Bombers basketball, second in the state
PINE PLAINS — “Thank you seniors! Undefeated!”Those were the cheers of the energetic crowd as the boys varsity basketball team defeated the Onteora Indians 64-50 at Stissing Mountain High School on Friday, Feb. 3, bringing the Bombers’ record to 13-0.The Pine Plains team is also currently ranked second in New York State Class C, trailing closely behind Tuckahoe.While the Bombers are certainly enjoying a successful season, the game was bittersweet — it marked the final home game for seniors Rob Lamont, Bryant Rosato and Charlie Nicolich.Before the game began, the three students stood at center court with their parents to receive words of praise and thanks from their coach, Brendan LoBrutto.They then joined juniors Justin Cooper and Zach Lydon as the starting lineup for the Senior Night matchup, with Onteora up 13-12 at the end of the first quarter.The applause resonating from the packed bleachers seemed to provide fuel for the Bombers, who quickly took the lead in the second quarter (with the help of a crowd-pleasing dunk by sophomore Tyler Lydon). Pine Plains maintained a sizeable lead for the rest of the game.“They played great,” LoBrutto said of his team. “The three seniors deserve it. They’ve been a part of the program for years, and they work hard. This is their night.”This is only LoBrutto’s second year as the Bombers’ coach, but he’s no stranger to victory. Last year’s team had a 17-5 record and earned the school’s first sectional title in 45 years.LoBrutto feels “a lot of pride for the school and Bombers uniform.” He’s been a social studies teacher at the Stissing Mountain High School for the past three years, and he graduated from the school in 1999.When asked why the team is currently undefeated with such a high state ranking, the coach emphasized that his players have a strong work ethic.“Our size gives teams a lot of problems, and the kids have a lot of natural talent,” he said. “We work really hard. They want to work. They’re not letting this record get to their head.”In fact, LoBrutto made it clear that the team’s record in early February isn’t as important as their record at the end of March.“We can enjoy the victory, but we have to get back to work tomorrow,” he said. “We have to buckle down, concentrate and end the regular season strong to get ready for sectionals.”Seniors respondAfter the game, the three seniors took a moment to reflect on their final home game and discuss the team’s current level of success.“It was exciting,” Lamont said of Senior Night. “I’ve been looking forward to this moment since my freshman year. It was an emotional game, but coming out with the win makes it that much better.”Lamont credited the Bombers’ undefeated record to the bond that is shared among his teammates.Nicolich echoed Lamont’s sentiments, noting that the team acts like “a big family.” He was also enthusiastic about participating in his final home game.“I remember looking up to the seniors and watching them play their last game when I was in sixth grade. It’s surreal to be here now,” Nicolich said. “The fans were great. Our fans are the best in the league.”Rosato already participated in a Senior Night event as part of the Pine Plains football team, and he said he felt a “combination of emotions” on the basketball court.Rosato feels that playing both football and basketball for the school gave him a sense of structure, and his favorite memory of Pine Plains will always be “Friday night under the lights on the football field.”As for the basketball team’s win against Onteora, Rosato felt a sense of team spirit.“I liked this win because it was a team win. We had everyone off the bench. Everyone really came together to make it a good win,” he said.The Pine Plains boys and girls varsity basketball teams will participate in the Coaches vs. Cancer tournament at Bard College on Saturday, Feb. 11. The girls face Red Hook at 4 p.m.; the boys face Red Hook at 6 p.m.