by Tom Pedulla –
Sidney Thybulle, a center, and Colby Martins, a guard, played basketball together for so many years that they learned to anticipate each other’s moves and developed games that complemented one another. They long dreamt of helping Irvington High School to the Class B title.
Then the need for one to make a life-shaping decision abruptly ended their shared dream.
As their senior seasons approached, Martins, one of the area’s most dynamic scorers, determined that the best way to advance himself on and off the court was to transfer to Millbrook Preparatory School, a boarding school in Dutchess County. That leaves the weight of Irvington’s basketball fortunes largely on Thybulle.
Thybulle, at 6-7, 230 pounds, has the size to handle that. He also appears to have the ability after averaging 14 points and 14 rebounds as a junior. Coach Scott Brennen is working with him on developing the necessary mindset.
“Sidney is such a nice kid he can be a little passive,” Brennen said. “This year, one of the things we’ve talked to him about is being more aggressive and being completely the focal point of our offense and defense and using his size and strength to our advantage.”
Thybulle had grown accustomed to looking for Martins, who remains a close friend and whose decision he said he wholly supported. Now, Thybulle must assert himself as never before. If he does that, he may be nearly impossible to stop in a highly-competitive league.
“He provides a matchup nightmare for most of the teams we play with his athleticism, size, strength and feel for the game,” Brennen said.
Irvington’s growth as a program has matched that of Thybulle. He was a scrawny 6-3, 160-pounder when he made the varsity team as a freshman and the Bulldogs struggled to a 6-14 record. They improved to 12-8 and then 19-4.
Thybulle has others to share the leadership of the team, namely fellow captains Dylan Seymour and Brant Steinberg, a junior point guard adept at putting others in positions to succeed. He accepts that much of the offensive load carried by two players now must fall on one. Martins averaged 19.5 points per game last season.
“I know I’m the guy. I don’t shy away from situations,” Thybulle said. “That’s something I’m more than happy to take on as a player and a leader of our team.”
Brennen hopes Thybulle can increase his scoring average to 18 to 20 points per game and that others will find ways to contribute. James Rhodes, a 6-5 junior, can be very effective around the rim. Seymour and Jared Topman are good outside threats. Freshman Wyatt Triestman is a precocious talent.
The Bulldogs will constantly look for Thybulle, though.
“For us to be as successful as we can be, we need him to dominate in the paint,” Brennen said. “But Sidney does have the ability to step out and hit mid-range 15-foot or 16-foot jump shots.”
Thybulle has been a model student-athlete at Irvington. His performance in honors courses has allowed him to exceed an “A” average with a 4.27 grade-point average. He has been recruited by a significant number of Division 3 colleges with lofty academic reputations.
“Being a good student opened a lot of doors for me recruiting-wise,” he said. “It’s given me the opportunity to apply to higher academic institutions and set myself up for a good future and a good life.”
Thybulle devotes time to tutoring fellow students. He understands that his studies must supersede everything.
“You can only play basketball for so long,” he said. “But your knowledge is forever.”