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Sports Person of the Week
Carasone Does the Dirty Work on the Court
Junior Shea Carasone is making key contributions for the East Haven boys’ basketball team through his gritty intensity on the court. (Photo courtesy of Shea Carasone)
Whenever he’s on the basketball court, Shea Carasone likes to dive for loose balls, guard the opposition’s top offensive player, and basically do anything he can to help his team win. Shea’s gritty style of play earned a starting varsity spot with the East Haven boys’ basketball squad as a sophomore, and now he’s back in the lineup for his junior year and helping the Yellowjackets succeed.
Shea started playing hoops in East Haven’s Biddy Basketball League when he was four. Shea’s parents helped him get into the sport, and he would always watch his older sister Jenna play for the Yellowjackets until she graduated in 2014. By watching Jenna compete, Shea realized that he wanted to play basketball in high school, too, and began working toward that goal.
“I didn’t miss a game. I was always watching her play,” Shea says of his sister. “From her Biddy games to her high school games, I always idolized her. I always wanted to be out there, just like her.”
Shea signed up to play for East Haven’s travel program in 4th grade and later joined the team at Joseph Melillo Middle School. Shea got better with every season and credits his Biddy Basketball coach Anthony Bagnoli with helping him learn the fundamentals of the sport. While rising up the ranks in East Haven, Shea developed quite a passion for basketball.
Shea joined the Yellowjackets when he started high school, seeing time at the freshman, JV, and varsity levels during his first year. The transition to the high school game was a rough one for Shea, but Head Coach Ricky Narracci pushed him to perform to his potential and helped Shea realize just how good he could be.
“It was tough. I was playing three games a day,” says Shea. “Right when I came in, Coach Narracci was hard on me. But I loved it. I fed off that energy. He pushed me to become the basketball player I am now.”
In his sophomore season, Shea became a starting guard for the Yellowjackets. Shea was now settling in and getting more comfortable playing at the high school level. The Easties tried to find their identity throughout the season. As the campaign wore on and they gained experience playing together, Shea saw more confidence in his squad.
Now a junior, Shea continues to start for East Haven at the guard position and feels happy to have established his role. Shea says that he enjoys doing the “dirty work” and making plays for his teammates. Shea understands that his role on the team is to play scrappy, hard-nosed basketball, and it’s a role that he loves to hold.
“Coach Narracci preaches, ‘Know your role.’ This year, I really found my role on the team. I’m a scrappy player. I like to guard the other team’s best player every game. I love to make plays for my teammates and watch them score,” Shea says. “I just love to do the dirty work. I love to get steals. I love to make the assist for my scorers. If the ball is on the floor, I’m going to go get it.”
After winning just four games last year, East Haven is off to a 3-2 start in the 2021 season. Coach Narracci says that Shea is proving crucial to the team’s early success and always gives the Yellowjackets a boost with the way he plays the game.
“He is one of the more competitive kids I’ve ever coached. He wants to win. He’s not interested in his stat line. His mental toughness is something he has worked on since he was a freshman. He has really developed in that area of his game,” says Narracci. “He brings grit. Most nights he has the toughest defensive assignment. He is very dependable in zone or in man. We can count on him to be a steady presence.”
Alongside basketball, Shea is also a member of the East Haven football team. Shea started playing football when he was five and has been competing for the Yellowjackets since his freshman year. Shea was primed to start as an outside linebacker while serving as the backup quarterback for the Easties until the 2020 football season was canceled. By playing football, Shea has learned how to be more aggressive on the basketball court.
“The mentality of being a scrappy player, I definitely got that from football,” Shea says. “I’ve definitely learned the physical attributes of both.”
With 10 seniors on the basketball team, Shea wants to keep building his leadership skills for when he’s a senior next season. Shea loves playing basketball and appreciates every second that he gets to do so in East Haven.
“I’m just grateful,” says Shea. “I love being out there.”