The boys and girls basketball programs at Seabury Academy are at very different places right now. One is aiming for state-tournament contention, while the other is in construction mode. Still, both teams are looking forward to the hardwood challenges ahead.
The schedule might say otherwise, but as far as Seabury boys basketball coach Ashley Battles sees it, the Seahawks have three seasons to play through in the coming three-plus months.
Season 1 will be December, when the Seahawks won’t have 6-foot-7 Free State transfer Georgi Funtarov, who is not yet eligible. Sophomore Marcus Allen, who has an injured ankle, will also miss some games.
Season 2 comes in January and February, with Seabury wanting to establish Funtarov as one of its three primary players, along with senior Thomas Diaz and sophomore Khadre Lane. The Seahawks will have to get its trio of go-to guys on the same page as Allen, senior point guard Garrett Gillett, senior Jesse May (also a FSHS transfer) and sophomore Aaron Lock.
Season 3 will be the biggest one: the postseason.
Second-year Seabury coach Battles described his team’s schedule as “absolutely grueling,” because the Class 1A program will be taking on plenty of 4A, 5A and 6A schools while playing few against smaller schools. He won’t be overly concerned if Seabury takes some lumps in the process.
“For us it’s not necessary about wins and losses during the season,” he said. “It’s about preparing for that third season.”
The Seahawks, 12-7 last year, have the pieces to be successful. Battles said Gillett can push the ball and initiate offensively and defensively, while Funtarov, Diaz and Lane can “go get buckets” and May and Lock can clear the glass and do work inside.
That being said, Battles wants the Seahawks to respect their opponents, be they 6A or 1A.
“Even though we have good players,” he said, “we know that our job is to go out and be humble, play as hard as we can, play as smart as we can.”
When Becky Bridson took over the once-defunct Seabury girls basketball program, she knew it would be a long, difficult road to normalcy. Now, entering year three of Bridson’s tenure, it appears the Seahawks might finally be on track.
Seabury had neither a full schedule nor any kind of postseason the past two years, but things are different now, with a 16-game varsity schedule and postseason eligibility intact.
“For the last two years,” Bridson said, “it’s really been about building and learning and growing.”
The problem with all of that, Bridson added, is that the Seahawks don’t have much game-time experience at this point, other than some match-ups against junior varsity teams, with a handful of varsity games thrown in.
Seabury has just two seniors — Alyson Oliver and Hannah Spomer — on its roster, but the Seahawks have a talented pair of juniors who are expected to help lead the team. Bridson said Courtney Hoag, a transfer from Free State, and Alexa Gaumer have stood out as Seabury’s most experienced players.
“They’ve played basketball since they were itty-bitty, and it shows,” Bridson said. “They’re both very naturally gifted.”
The Seahawks also figure to get contributions from juniors Raquel Dominguez, Padget Sutherland, Taylor Sweeney, Emilie Padgett and freshman Reilly Malone.
Considering where the program was when Bridson took over in 2009, she said the mental and physical growth of the players has been “astronomical,” and this season, full of new opportunities, will be important for the players.
“I hope that it’s validating for them,” she said, “and I hope they understand that their hard work has paid off.”