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A Sandy Valley High School graduate has the Stony Brook men's basketball team near the top of the American East Conference.
Jeff Boals, a 1990 Cardinal alum, has led the Seawolves to a 15-10 overall record and a 10-2 mark in conference play as of Feb. 13.
Boals is in his first season under the helm after spending seven seasons as an assistant under Thad Matta at Ohio State.
After a 64-61 loss to NJIT on Dec. 28, Stony Brook sat at 4-8. The Seawolves then rattled off wins in seven of their next eight games. They are now in second place behind Vermont who is undefeated conference play. Stony Brook and Vermont will square off for the second time on the final day of the regular season. Vermont won the first meeting earlier this year.
A group of Sandy Valley area residents recently made the trip to Long Island to see one of their own. They included Derek Faiello and Jeff's parents, Bob and Marjorie.
Faiello watched Boals during his playing days at Sandy Valley and at Ohio University. He and his family then stayed in touch with Jeff's parents.
"We knew he would someday have the opportunity to run his own program, so it has been awesome seeing him do so at Stony Brook this season," Faiello said. "Sitting in the stands at the first game I went to a few weeks ago, I cannot explain the amount of pride I had, knowing that Jeff has worked so hard to earn this position. His enthusiasm, knowledge of the game, and intensity can easily be seen during game time, and you can tell the home crowd loves this Sandy Valley kid."
After the game he attended, Faiello caught up with Boals to chat for a bit. He also noted Boals took time after that game to be with a family who had a child battling cancer.
"Jeff and his program have taken this boy under their wings," Faiello said, "and to see him using this opportunity as a head coach to do things like this for such a special young boy was just amazing."