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Sports Person of the Week
Arnum’s a Shoreline Star on the Court
Jeremy Arnum earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors for his exceptional play with the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team this year. The sophomore wing sustained a broken wrist during the middle of the season, but worked hard to make his way back to the team in time for the Shoreline Conference Tournament. (Photo courtesy of Jeremy Arnum)
Jeremy Arnum has shown himself to be one of the top players in the Shoreline Conference during the early stages of his career with the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team. A sophomore wing, Jeremy earned All-Shoreline Conference First Team honors for the Warriors this winter, even after missing several games with a broken right wrist.
Jeremy was shocked to learn that he was awarded his All-Shoreline distinction. However, considering his season averages of 18.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.1 steals per game, he made a pretty great case to receive that accolade.
“It surprised me a little bit. I was hoping to be able to do that coming into the season,” says Jeremy, who was also named to the New Haven Register All-Area Team. “I worked really hard over the summer. When I got hurt, I thought it wasn’t going to happen, but I was already averaging like 20 points per game at that point, I guess.”
Jeremy got injured during a marquee matchup against Morgan in the middle of the regular season. While the injury was disheartening, Jeremy put in the hard work to make it back to the team in time for the Shoreline Conference Tournament.
“The way it broke was right toward the top. I could have been out for three months, but it ended up being a lot faster. Waiting for the MRI made me nervous. I didn’t think I was going to be able to come back at all, and I didn’t expect to play at the level I did when I got back,” Jeremy says. “I was trying to be extra cautious. I was doing workouts to get it back. I was shooting when I had the cast on. I felt it was weak, and the ball was heavy. I was using my fingertips to take a lot of shots. I was kind of holding myself back a little bit to be safe.”
Jeremy made his triumphant return in Valley’s 65-56 Shoreline quarterfinal win against Old Lyme on March 23—one month after he had sustained the injury. Jeremy scored 21 points to go with five rebounds and five steals in the victory. Jeremy says that he felt pretty good in that game and didn’t have to push himself to the point where he was uncomfortable. Things became a little more difficult for Jeremy when Valley faced Cromwell in the semis, but he still helped the Warriors notch a 38-34 overtime victory.
“The Cromwell game was the one I started to notice that I had to get out my comfort zone. When I tried to do the normal things, I started to get a little sore,” says Jeremy. “In the finals against Morgan, I could get a full flick of my wrist. That’s when I was at 100 percent again.”
Jeremy had all of his energy focused on that championship contest against an undefeated Morgan club. The Warriors ultimately came up a little short by taking a 62-54 defeat, but it was a nail-biter the whole way. Jeremy knew that his team left everything that it had on the court.
“That Morgan game was the one I was thinking about for when I came back. They are so big, and they are a good team. That game was a statement game for me. I was really doing it for the seniors,” Jeremy says. “We were not scared to lose that game. We knew we could win that game, and we were up for a while.
“I give props to Morgan,” he adds. “They could have given up, but they pushed us more than we pushed them. I was really emotional after we lost, but I knew we did our part. Everybody in the Shoreline thought we would lose that game by a lot. We all are dogs, though.”
Jeremy viewed his extended time on the sidelines with silver lining. The Warriors had depended on Jeremy to make many plays and, with him out of action, they had to become more versatile in their attack.
“The first game they played after I got hurt, I knew it was going to be different. I knew that someone would have to step up and have to take control. Yeah, I was down, but we all could play,” says Jeremy, who lives in Ivoryton. “Losing a star player that contributes a lot is tough, but if you know how to play basketball and have confidence in how you run offense and defense, you can be fine.
“That first game against Old Saybrook, we didn’t have that spark,” he says. “We just needed some time to adapt. It was a good thing, because everyone started to have more confidence in each other.”
Jeremy holds a major role on both offense and defense for Valley. Jeremy plays on the wing as either a shooting guard or a small forward for the most part, but he can also run the point.
“My game I would say is off-ball. That’s probably my best asset. If I play [point guard], then it’s because we need a spark. But if I bring up the ball, they expect me to go to the basket and try to trap me,” Jeremy says. “Off-ball, I can get screens. I can pull up. There are a lot of things that I can do. I have a pretty sweet stroke, but if I’m missing shots, I try to get to the basket. If I’m open, I take the shot. If they try to stop my shot, I can blow past them and get to the rim.”
Jeremy developed his defensive prowess while playing AAU ball for the Team Spartans squad based in Massachusetts, along with competing against talented Valley alums like David Bradbury.
“The defensive part of my game came from AAU. I would also play with David Bradbury. I played pick-up with him and some of his friends from college. I would get beat a lot playing against them, but I was also learning. Playing with them gave me confidence. Defense is confidence,” says Jeremy. “Everything about my game is confidence, really. You have to avoid getting into your own head. On defense, I do whatever I can just to stop momentum. I usually take the second-best player, and Simon Partyka would take the best player to guard.”
Head Coach Kevin Woods knows that Valley boys’ hoops has a great player to build its program around with Jeremy on the roster.
“Jeremy had nothing but a positive impact, even when he wasn’t able to play. He didn’t miss a practice, and he pushed his players. This kid did everything he was supposed to do to get himself back. He worked hard on his left hand and, when he could start using his right, he was doing as much as he could,” Woods says. “He didn’t have the captain label, but he certainly was captain material and one of the top leaders on the team. We were fortunate to have our captains Keenan Pindar and Marcus SantaMaria, and I think they rubbed off on Jeremy. He keeps getting more talented on the court, but he keeps getting more talented as a player and as a leader.”
On the heels of a sensational sophomore season, Jeremy has big ambitions for both himself and the Warriors next year.
“I think that it comes down how much work we put in for next year. I think we will make states. I have no doubt that we can compete with any team in the state,” Jeremy says. “I thank the whole team for believing in me and trusting that we could do big things when I came back. They pushed me to be more of a leader than I was. They have been great teammates, probably the best teammates I’ve ever had. They pick me up. I wish we could have had a longer season that ended the way we wanted it to, but the season we had built a lot of character for us.”