Amistad finished last year’s regular season at 18-2. Since the New Haven-based team, now in its seventh year as a varsity program, does not play in a conference, it only had the Class S state tournament to participate in.
Amistad drew the No. 3 seed and lost to No. 30 Haddam-Killingworth in the opening round 64-36.
“We had a phenomenal regular-season record, but a terrible state tournament game,” Amistad coach Ryan Ott said. “But every single one (of the seven seniors who graduated) got an academic scholarship (to college).”
Now, with virtually an entire varsity roster of underclassmen, Amistad had another fine season at 11-5 and will spend this week practicing, preparing for what Ott hopes will be a better performance in Class S. Amistad will draw the No. 10 seed and host No. 23 MLC.
“We could be the youngest team in the state,” said Ott, who grew up in Louisville and teaches social studies at Berlin High. “We do have a lot of depth. We have a young, talented team, trying to be patience and trying not to rush the process. Once they have had some time to develop and play together more, they will become more successful.”
Among the area schools Amistad has beaten this season include Westbrook, Platt Tech and O’Brien Tech. Among the losses were to North Branford and Morgan.
“Each year, we are strengthening our schedule by adding more games against established programs in New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford and the Shoreline Conference,” Ott said.
Regarding any future plans of joining a league, Amistad athletic director Jay Fellows said, “We’re open to considering joining a conference if the right situation presents itself.”
Of course, Amistad would need to find a proper fit for all of its varsity sports, not just boys basketball.
Brandon Pettway is the team’s only junior, but according to Ott, this is his first full season as a varsity player after missing a part of the last two years recuperating from a broken leg. He leads Amistad with 16 points and 12 rebounds per game.
“We are hungry to advance further in the tournament,” Ott said. “We have a brand new facility (located on Dixwell Avenue). Our enrollment has grown. I feel like in the years ahead, we will get more high quality basketball players. We are young now, but if we keep the guys together and grow them, we will have more success down the road.”