Boys Basketball Season Ends One Game Short of Playoffs

Whitman seniors left to right: Julian Kleberg, Claude Cajuste, Mohammad Faiz, Andre Harris, Jordan Aiken, and Gary Harris and were joined by their families and coaches Thomas Fitzpatrick and Ray Eatmon.
Whitman seniors left to right: Julian Kleberg, Claude Cajuste, Mohammad Faiz, Andre Harris, Jordan Aiken, and Gary Harris and were joined by their families and coaches Thomas Fitzpatrick and Ray Eatmon.
Jordan Aiken was named an All-Conference player.
Jordan Aiken was named an All-Conference player.
Andre Harris, in his first year playing for the Wildcats, was named an All-League player.
Andre Harris, in his first year playing for the Wildcats, was named an All-League player.
Senior captain Julian Kleberg was consistent at the free-throw line.
Senior captain Julian Kleberg was consistent at the free-throw line.
Senior Claude Cajuste excelled in coach Fitzpatrick’s defense strategy that kept some of the division leaders to their fewest points of the season.
Senior Claude Cajuste excelled in coach Fitzpatrick’s defense strategy that kept some of the division leaders to their fewest points of the season.
At 6’1” tall, senior Mohammad Faiz had a strong presence and was a solid player off the bench that coach Fitzpatrick could always count on.
At 6’1” tall, senior Mohammad Faiz had a strong presence and was a solid player off the bench that coach Fitzpatrick could always count on.
Gary Harris was another senior who excelled in coach Fitzpatrick’s defense strategy and kept good teams off their game.
Gary Harris was another senior who excelled in coach Fitzpatrick’s defense strategy and kept good teams off their game.

The boy’s varsity basketball team worked hard and never quit. But eventually the numbers in the win-loss column would catch them a game short of making the playoffs. “Our goal is always to make the playoffs and go from there,” said Varsity Head Coach Tom “Fitz” Fitzpatrick in a recent article in the Long-Islander News.

Experience-wise this was a young group with none of the players having any starting varsity experience from last season. But the Wildcats made believers in their fans purely through hard work and a never quit attitude that surprised their competition many times. “Except for our first and last league games of the season we were in close games all year,” said Coach Fitz.

The Wildcats season came to a close after a loss to Northport, who is now in the semifinals after a record setting six-overtime win against Huntington this past Saturday afternoon. The Whitman-Northport game concluded an annual tradition, as this was the final game of the season in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. The Coaches vs. Cancer program is a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches. Donations are made during the month of January, and this year contributions continue at a record pace at high schools across the nation.

This was also the last home game for the Wildcat seniors who were honored at mid-court with their families. Senior captains Jordan Aiken, Gary Harris and Julian Kleberg were joined by their senior teammates Claude Cajuste, Mohammad Faiz, and Andre Harris. Four Wildcats received post-season honors recently. Jordan Aiken was named an All-Conference player and Andre Harris was named an All-League player. Whitman junior Matt Kleet was named Academic All-League player and teammate Willie Petro was named All-League Honorable mention. Both juniors, who saw considerable playing time this season, are expected to anchor next season’s team along with Korey Lee, Avery McKenzie, Dylan McNally and Matt Stockfeder. 

“I’m proud of the kids,” said Coach Fitz. “I also want to say thank you to third-year Assistant Coach Ray Eatmon. He’s one of the better assistant coaches in Suffolk County and the kids love being around him.” 

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