PSA pg 1 4-1-21

There was no national championship game, no net to cut down, no wild celebration.
But when Bryce Harris drained a 3-pointer from the corner in front of his bench, giving Putnam Science Academy’s boys’ prep team a four-point lead that it would not relinquish March 27, it was a fitting end to the Mustangs’ stop-and-go season.
“I told the kids Friday how proud I am of them,” PSA coach Tom Espinosa said after his team beat St. Thomas More 100-98 to finish the season 18-3. “A lot of teams I’ve had in the past couldn’t have done what they did in terms of dealing with COVID, having a closed campus, not being able to go home on the weekends, the temperature checks every morning … just everything. They did a fantastic job. They were here on campus and they couldn’t get off.
“It isn’t the most talented team we’ve ever had but I give them so much credit for being a team. Guys were team players. Guys weren’t selfish. Guys who didn’t play were still on time and worked hard in practice. This is a special group, a group I’ll always remember.”
Harris typified the group. When the season began in October, he was a starter. After just two games, PSA had to pause its season. And when the team reconvened in January for the restart, there was massive roster turnover with five guys gone and eight new guys in. Harris lost his starting spot and became a back-of-the-rotation piece. There was a game in which he made a comment upon being subbed out that Espinosa didn’t like and resulted in Harris being benched for the remainder of that game and finding himself in the doghouse.
“Bryce could’ve cracked, and he didn’t,” Espinosa said. “He didn’t say anything. And I definitely challenged him. The next day, I still remember, he was the first guy working out in the morning, he was the first guy in the gym for practice that afternoon. That’s been Bryce.
“That shot he hit at the end, that sums it up. What he went through, what the team went through, it was a perfect ending to our season. There’s no way a lot of other kids could do that, or would do that.”
Harris’ 3-pointer March 27 gave him 22 points in the game; he finished the year averaging 12 points and 5.6 rebounds. That included a couple of monster performances, most notably a 10-point, 17-rebound effort against Canterbury and a 21-point, 18-rebound showing against Bridgton Academy.
Because of COVID restrictions, PSA played mostly in-state schools, as opposed to the national schedule it would typically play. The Mustangs lost twice to South Kent (they also beat the Cardinals twice) and once to St. Thomas More (in their penultimate game of the season). Everything else was a win.
Postgrad player Nana Owusu-Anane, one of the eight new players in the second half, led the team in scoring (14.6 per game) and rebounding (8.4). Darryl Simmons Jr., a member of the Class of 2023, stepped into a major role as the starting point guard when University of Miami-bound Bensley Joseph broke his ankle. Simmons proved to be more than capable, finishing fourth in scoring (12.1), first in assists (4.4), and first in steals (1.7). C.J. Anthony, a postgrad player who is still being recruited, led the team in charges, drawing an eye-popping team-record 18 in the 21 games. As a point of reference, Hassan Diarra led the Mustangs in that category last year; he drew six charges in 40 games.
In addition to Joseph going to Miami, 10 other PSA players have already committed to play Division I basketball: Josh Bascoe (Bucknell), Sean Durugordon (Missouri), Isaiah Folkes (Charlotte), Harris (Howard), Elijah Hutchins-Everett (Penn State), Nic Louis-Jacques (Colgate), Owusu-Anane (Brown), Alexis Reyes (East Carolina), Mohamed Sanogo (Florida International), and Leon Williams (Gardner-Webb). Durugordon, Folkes, and Louis-Jacques enrolled early at their respective colleges while Joseph and Bascoe only played three games between them because of injury.
All in all, Espinosa said, it was another successful season for the powerhouse Mustangs. It was just different.
“I feel bad for them,” he said, “especially the kids who did just one year of prep school. They’ll never experience the real season here with the schedule and our home crowd, or a league tournament, or the real competition like St. Thomas More and us when the gym is packed and you can’t get in, or playing for a national championship. They missed out on so much unfortunately.
“But it was a real good group and I’m thankful I had the opportunity to get to know them and coach them. I’ll be their biggest cheerleaders next year when they go on to college.”
Stephen Nalbandian
Sports Information Director
Putnam Science Academy


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