Coach Tony Zaksewicz enters his fifth season with the Matanzas Pirates basketball team.
It’s no secret: The Matanzas Pirates boys basketball players won’t be the biggest team on the court this season, but they do have speed and tenacity to make up for their lack of size inside.
The Pirates lost two key big men last season in Wendell Powell and Jalen Hancock.
And so, they are switching their style to a more up-tempo, fast-paced game to take advantage of their strengths.
Coach Tony Zaksewicz enters his fifth season with the Pirates. Last season, the Pirates finished with a 16-14 record, lost in the district championship, but made their first state playoff appearance in school history.
The Pirates are 2-1 this season.
To get back to the state playoffs, Zaksewicz knows his team has to be successful in changing its brand of basketball.
That starts with shooting the ball well. Junior Ivan Tsabak was the team’s second-leading scorer last season, and led the area in 3-pointers.
Senior Shawn White, at 6-feet, 1-inch, will be the presence in the paint for the Pirates. He was the third-leading rebounder on last season’s team. Though White is strong inside inside, Zaksewicz knows that when his team faces a team with a legitimate big man, there will be rebounding issues.
In the second game this season, the Pirates played North Florida Institute. White had 15 rebounds in the game, but the Pirates still lost the rebound battle.
“We hope to pick up enough points in transition with our speed to make up for our lack of height and our rebounding deficiencies,” he said.
Fortunately, many of Matanzas’ district opponents lack size, too, Zaksewicz said.
Other key players include Kurt Grimes, Kory Jones and Darrick Richardson, all of whom were on last year’s varsity team, but were limited in playing time.
Most of this year’s team features players who don’t have a lot of varsity experience, Zaksewicz said.
The Pirates (2-1) play 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at home against Pedro Menendez.
Contact Andrew O’Brien at [email protected].
7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 Pedro Menendez
7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 5 @ St. Augustine
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8 @ Nease
7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 12 @ New Smyrna Beach
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 Ponte Vedra
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 @ Fernandina Beach
7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 19 Warner Christian
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21 Bolles
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 5 @ Pedro Menendez
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12 Nease
7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 16 @ Bartram Trail
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18 Calvary Christian
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 @ Ponte Vedra
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 Lake Mary Prep
7:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 23 Creekside
7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 Palatka
7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2 @ Flagler Palm Coast