Monday, January 17, 2022

Sports Person of the Week

Furino Sees a Fine Finish to His Yellowjackets’ Basketball Career


Senior captain Nick Furino capped off his basketball career in East Haven by earning All-SCC East Division honors for a Yellowjackets’ team that advanced to the SCC Division II final. Photo courtesy of Nick Furino

Senior captain Nick Furino capped off his basketball career in East Haven by earning All-SCC East Division honors for a Yellowjackets’ team that advanced to the SCC Division II final. (Photo courtesy of Nick Furino)

After stepping on the court in 4th grade, Nick Furino has spent the better half of the last decade playing basketball in East Haven. By the time he was a senior, Nick had become a captain who led the Yellowjackets to the SCC Division II championship game, while solidifying a spot on the All-Conference Team.

Nick took an interest in basketball after watching professional athletes play the sport on TV. Nick wanted to work as hard as they did. As he watched the pros from afar, Nick also saw his older brother Nate playing the game in East Haven, and it wasn’t long before Nick decided to try his hand on the basketball court.

“Watching my brother play, it drove me more. I wanted to get better. I always wanted to be better than him,” Nick says of Nate, a 2019 graduate. “We always used to throw the ball outside, play basketball together. He has taught me a few things. It made me want to play more.”

Nick joined East Haven’s travel team as a 4th-grader. When Nick was in 7th grade, Nate was a freshman who was seeing varsity playing time for the Yellowjackets. Nick says that watching his brother play varsity at the high school motivated him to work that much harder both on the court and in the weight room.

Nick followed his brother’s path and signed up to compete for the Easties in his freshman year. He spent that season at the JV level, learning how to take on bigger and stronger competition. Unfortunately, in his first high school game, Nick suffered a fractured right wrist and was forced to miss a portion of the season.

“It was tough. I didn’t want to sit on the bench and watch everyone else play,” Nick says. “Going out as a freshman, you’re missing out on an experience you probably won’t get back. I just wanted to be on the court.”

Nick was able to return to the Yellowjackets at the end of his freshman campaign. He continued to compete for the JV team in his sophomore year. Nick then became a starting guard for East Haven as a junior and continued in that role through his senior season.

As his tenure with the Easties unfolded, Nick gained confidence as a scorer and demonstrated that he was going to do everything in his power to help lead his team to victory.

“You want to dive for every ball. You want every possession. You always see the NBA players diving and getting the ball,” says Nick. “I’m not a singular player who just wants the ball. It’s a team game in my head. I want everyone else to be contributing. A one-man game isn’t it for a team.”

Heading into Nick’s senior year, the East Haven boys’ basketball team was coming off of a four-year win season. However, this year Nick helped the Yellowjackets post a record of 9-5 that included an appearance in the SCC Division II final. When the season was completed, Nick was selected to the All-SCC East Division Team alongside senior captain Ian Reynolds.

“This was a fun year. Many people probably didn’t think we were going to make it this far, but we had all been wishing for this moment since we were in travel,” Nick says. “We finally made it. It wasn’t the outcome we wanted, but it was good to be there. In practice, we had the mindset that any game, we could win.”

It means a lot to Nick that he garnered All-SCC accolades in tandem with Reynolds, his fellow senior captain. Nick had dreamed of being a captain since he was a kid, and he enjoyed leading the team throughout the season. Nick loved keeping the Easties together and picking up his teammates whenever they needed it.

Ricky Narracci spent the past four years as Nick’s head coach at East Haven. Narracci said that if the Yellowjackets had named an MVP in either of the last two seasons, that Nick would have won it both times. Narracci adds that Nick grew as both an athlete and a leader every year that he competed for the team.

“Nick was our leading scorer and our leading rebounder. He got a lot stronger over the offseason,” says Narracci. “Nick was going against kids who were bigger and stronger than him, and he really held his own. He continued to improve every year and got everything out of his ability and more.”

Aside from basketball, Nick is also a member of the East Haven baseball team. Nick pitches for the Yellowjackets and tossed a perfect game in his first varsity outing against Harding as a freshman. Nick says that playing both basketball and baseball has helped him become a better teammate who communicates more effectively.

Nick feels proud that he finished his high school basketball career by helping the Yellowjackets have a solid season. The best part for Nick was that he got to share that success with a group of teammates who he’s been playing with for several years in his hometown.

“Playing for East Haven means a whole lot to me,” Nick says. “I’ve been playing with these kids forever. I already know what they do. We know so much about each other. We took it from travel and brought it to high school.”

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