Latina’s Hoop Dreams Live On
2021 WHS grad Luke Latina will be playing at post-grad season at St. Thomas More. Photo credit : Jo-Ann Campbell
Recent Wethersfield High School graduate Luke Latina has some unfinished business left on the basketball courts.
Latina, who starred on the Eagles basketball team, will be taking a post-graduate year at St. Thomas More Prep to showcase and improve his game.
“It’s a great program,” Latina said of the Oakdale-based school, “I’m going to play against guys that are a lot better than me and I’ll get my butt whooped, but that’s what you need to get better.”
Basketball is in Latina’s blood. His dad, Anthony Latina, is the longtime basketball coach at Sacred Heart University and he has two godfathers coaching, one at Wesleyan and another at East Catholic.
The game has literally become a way of life for the Latina family.
“When you’ve seen as many basketball games as I have, thousands of basketball games at every level, you just fall in love,” stated Latina, “When I watch film with my dad or watch my dad’s team you just learn so much about the game. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Unfortunately, the game he loves so much was cut short in each of his last two seasons at WHS.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, causing the cancellation of winter sports activities shortly before Latina and his teammates were schedule to take on Middletown in the Division II tournament in March of 2020.
The Eagles season was once again abruptly ended this year when COVID-related precautions caused the team to cancel the last two regular season games and miss the conference tourney.
“It’s a huge mental battle and we leaned on each other. The first time was a little different because everybody was going through it, but this year was so tough to take because we were feeling really good about ourselves,” said Latina, who averaged 17 points per game this winter, “This is why I came here, my two high school decision were between East Catholic and here, and I wanted to stay home. I wanted to try and win something for the school and not getting a chance to deliver on what I wanted to do stinks, but it’s something that you have to deal with. It’s really taught us to deal with everything that’s thrown at us and make the best out of the situation.”
Despite the setbacks, Latina did have some epic moments at WHS, including two standouts during the 2019-2020 season.
In the 2020 regular season finale against Newington, the then-junior made an acrobatic lay-up off glass to beat the buzzer, sending the game into overtime. The Eagles ended up losing the finale, but their confidence was sky-high heading into the state tourney after knocking off #1-seed Tolland in the CCC tournament.
“It felt like everything was cooking for us,” Latina recalled, “We had a belief in our locker room that we were good, and we knew we were better than what we had played like earlier in the year. We were peaking at the right time.”
When he wasn’t playing basketball, Latina was a hurdler on the outdoor track and field of the track team, and also helped manage the girls’ soccer team.
The Wethersfield native, who is turning 18 this month, will now use his post-grad year to attract basketball scouts that were dormant during a recruiting dead period caused by COVID.
“I want them to believe in me and I want to believe in the program. I don’t care at what level, I just want to play,” said Latina, who will pursue a degree in education with the hopes of becoming a teacher and basketball coach, “I’ve dreamed of winning a championship my entire life. I want to go to college and win a championship, that’s the goal.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin