SARATOGA SPRINGS — Ken Mantia, head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Saratoga Central Catholic for the last decade, has an interesting season ahead of him now. On Martin Luther King weekend in back- to-back games, senior captain Ryan McFadden, the teams’ top defender, suffered a torn MCL knee injury in the game versus Hoosick Falls. The next day, senior captain Tyler Haraden, the teams’ top scorer with at least 21 points per game, broke his foot. Both injuries have, essentially, ended Haraden and McFadden’s high school basketball careers.
“Haraden looks like he’s out for the season, there’s a small chance that he could get back by sectionals. So now, all of a sudden, we’re down two starters, so other kids have really stepped up and they’re doing a great job,” Mantia clarified.
Since the injuries, other team members have stepped up and the team has seen significant role changes, effectively adopting the “next man up” mentality. The “next man up” mentality is, basically, the opportunity for the players who normally don’t have the opportunity to step up and into the shoes of their injured teammates.
“It really gives kids an opportunity to shine, and they’ve been really relishing that,” Mantia said.
Stepping into McFadden’s shoes is senior Ben Scammell, a shooting guard, and appropriately stepping into Haraden’s shoes is his brother, Sam Haraden, also a senior and power forward.
“[Scammell] has kind of stepped into Ryan’s spot and he’s been doing a great job. He’s got a couple of games where he had three three-pointers and Sam Haraden has been doing a really good job defensively for us,” Mantia said.
Other key players who have stepped up are Terel Tillman, a junior point-guard who was an all-league player as a sophomore and has been a starter since sophomore year; Sean Englert, a senior center; and Aiden Dagostino, a sophomore shooting guard.
“The load is kind of with those three guys and then the other two kids, Scammell and Haraden, are stepping in and doing their part,” Mantia explained.
“The kids that have been hurt, they’re still on the bench, rooting the kids on. They’ve had great attitudes, so it’s been good to see. We’re playing well, just taking it one game at a time,” he said.
As of Jan. 31, no games have been lost since the injuries.
McFadden and Haraden were “obviously disappointed by the injuries because they’re seniors. I mean, it’d be one thing if they could re-group and come back next season but when we’re in the middle of a really good year, we’re 14-2 now, we’re ranked in the state, and all of a sudden, their careers are over, it’s very tough. But they’ve been coming to practice, supporting the team, sitting on the bench at the games, their attitudes have been outstanding,” Mantia commended.
While the injuries were devastating to the entire team, they may have ironically helped to switch things up.
“It’s funny because now it’s hard to guard us, because you don’t know who it’s going to be. Tyler was a great player, and the opposing team used their whole defense to stop him,” he explained.
Injuries aside, the Spa Catholic boys have had a tremendous season and are taking it one game at a time to maintain that.
“We’ve done a lot of great things, it’s been a tremendous year. So we’d like to keep going as far as we can. I’ve seen seasons like this where guys will step up and you look back and it’s just amazing what kids can do when they get the chance to show off their skills,” Mantia said.
The Spa Catholic boys play again on Tuesday, Feb 6. For game details, check out the Sports at a Glance page.