ARMONK, N.Y – Somers High School boys' basketball star John Decker said repeatedly throughout the year that his senior season had been special.
He and his teammates had surged into the playoffs and put Somers basketball on the map with new head coach Chris DiCintio. In his final regular-season game, he dropped 59 points and joined the 1,000-point club for his career high school.
After the eighth-seeded Tuskers lost at top-seeded Byram Hills, 76-58, Tuesday, Decker got straight to the point.
“It sucks. We lost. I don’t know what else to say,” Decker said. “We had a great year but it sucks that we came up short.”
Somers stayed close to Byram Hills in the first half and trailed, 31-30, at the break. Byram Hills guard Brian Skelly hit five three-pointers in the third quarter to stretch the Bobcats’ lead to 59-43, and they never looked back.
Throughout the year, Decker often credited DiCintio and his coaching staff with changing the culture of Somers basketball. But the coach disagreed.
“We come in, we try to give some insight from our experience. But the kids on the court are the ones who have to execute and they’ve done it all year long,” DiCintio said. “Even in our losses, their effort was always there 100 percent. ... They’re a special group of kids.”
The coach inherited that special group in his first year with the Tuskers and knows that he must now move on without Decker and the other seniors.
“It was one of the greatest pleasures I had because the group truly became like family,” DiCintio said. “They like each other. We had a great time off the court as well, doing so many team events. And my heart goes out to my team not so much because of the loss, but because it’s ending right now this particular year.”
Despite the loss, Decker and his fellow seniors left DiCintio with one last parting gift.
“My hat's off to the seniors, all of the seniors, for really setting a foundation for what we’re going to be about in the future,” DiCintio said. “It’s been a special year.”