BY SEAN BRENNAN
Bronx Science appeared to be in trouble earlier this season.
The Wolverines had a memorable fifth win, bottoming out the year before, and opened this season with a 1-point loss to Longwood Prep. And when they sat with a 2-3 record in early December after two home defeats to KIPP and Clinton, it seemed like Science’s ship might sink again.
But a little chemistry lesson turned a difficult start into a special season for the Wolverines. Chemistry and science. A perfect match, no?
“At the end of last season and this season we were talking about the need to play more together to have better chemistry,” said science head coach Bart Allen. “So there’s this fall league, the 92nd Street Y league, and they’ve made it their business to join in and play together. I think we had two teams in this league so the focus in September and October was on gelation as a team. “
And since that first bumpy start to the season, the Wolverines have got a clear A in chemistry. The most recent example came last Friday when Science overcame an early 10-point hole before Alfred E. Smith blew en route to a 92-62 win.
The win was the 10th in a row for the Wolverines, who are now 12-3 in the season.
Science, which has already won the Bronx A Northwest Division championship, hasn’t lost since the Clinton game on December 7th.
“I think last year’s team didn’t work out too well,” said Allen. “I think the kids bought more this year. They understand that they don’t have to do it alone. Last year I thought there was a lot of “I have to do this, I have to do this”. This year everyone is doing a little. If we need a rebound, ricochet. If we need a theft, you get a theft. And it worked for us. “
Contributions came from all over the list to defeat Smith. Point guard Alex Halpern poured 20 points. Nate Denham logged a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Kyle Catry scored 16 points with eight boards. Jason Bohner contributed 12 points with seven rebounds. And the duo of Dylan Contreras and Akaash Sharma pulled five rebounds each.
Everyone did their part in a dominant Wolverines performance.
“We’re just a lot more focused this year,” said Denham. “Last year I would say that there just wasn’t enough excitement and engagement for the team. This year people want to win. “
And Denham hints at the Wolverines’ time in the Y Fall League by helping to turn the program around.
“I think we have pretty good chemistry because of that,” said Denham. “We’ve been playing together for a year now and I think playing in this league has helped build our chemistry.”
Another ingredient for this year’s success, Allen said, was a deeper and more eclectic list.
“Nate has been in college since he was a kid and I think this year he is realizing his full potential,” said Allen. “He and Alex are very good together. And I have a feeling that Jason Bohner, who is senior, is having a good season too. Jason had a game this year where he scored 20 goals.
“So we have at least three children who can score 20 points per game and everyone else has understood their roles. They are just a stronger team now, 15 children together. “
An example of this togetherness came late in the game when Will Nacos, a senior reserve team, scored a rebound. The play got the entire Bronx Science Bank going. And when Nacos scored again 23 seconds before the end, the bench only got louder.
“Will is a prankster and we just wanted him to score,” said Denham. “Those were his first points of the season.”
Science returns to the field on Jan. 28 with just three regular season games before the playoffs begin in February. And both Allen and Denham believe this Wolverines team has the goods for a long postseason run.
“I think we have a very good mix,” said Allen. “Alex and Nate have been here since childhood, Jason and Kyle know what to do, and Dylan Contreras stepped up and played really well. I think I have a very good mix of children with what they can do. “
“We’re pretty confident,” added Denham. “We definitely think we can do some damage in the playoffs this year.”