The Pearl River boys basketball team battled inexperience, inconsistency and a tough schedule throughout the 2012-13 season.
The Pirates once again competed with quality opponent to the final moments Friday at Peekskill before suffering a season-ending 70-67 defeat.
"We felt good going into the game," Pearl River Head Coach Jerry Houston, Jr. said. "We had a good handle on what they did. We felt if we could withstand the first few minutes of the game and settle in a bit, we'd be right there. That's what happened.
"The kids played a complete game all the way through with the exception of a three-minute hiccup that really turned the game at the end of the third quarter."
Houston pointed to missed free throws as part of the problem, something that had hurt he Pirates other times this season.
"We just stopped scoring the last 3:30 or so," Houston said. "We had some good looks. We missed a free throw or two. You have got to make your free throws in order to beat really good teams this year. When you look at the games we lost, we had some missed opportunities. We're hoping this is something we can build on.
"We had 11 times that we found a way to win it, but nine times we came up short. We're hoping we can learn from that and bring back more experience."
Pearl River loses two starters to graduation from the team that went 11-9 -- forward Tom Davis and point guard Rich Masley.
"Tommy and Richie played really well Friday night," Houston said. "They are going to be tough to replace. We had a lot of emotion tied up in those two guys."
The Pirates will again feature one of the top offensive weapons in the section in forward Kevin Degnan, who is being recruited by Division 1 college programs. Iona, Fordham, Siena and Fairfield have already offered basketball scholarships the versatile, 6-foot-7 forward and the recruiting process is far from over. He emerged as the Pirates' top offensive option and one of the best players in Class A as a junior, averaging 24 points and 11 rebounds per game.
"I know there will be more schools involved with him," Houston said. "I think they really like his mobility. He gets up and down the floor well. He's very comfortable passing and playing on the perimeter."
The other two returning starters will be sophomore guards Jack Byrnes and Tom Armour. Byrnes is a dangerous outside shooter with good size at 6-2. Armour also showed the ability to be an offensive option. Junior guard Chris Flood and junior forward James Linnane also saw significant playing time.
Houston said that another year of physical maturity should also help.
"We will look for Kevin to take another big step and for those guys to take a big step as well," Houston said. "Everybody should get a little bigger, a little stronger."