Younger players contribute to boys' basketball, hockey teams' strong seasons

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Will Kharfen

This winter season, both the boys’ basketball, 12-5, and hockey, 2-5-3, teams experienced substantial losses to their rosters. Now, both teams are looking to younger and new players to make major impacts to both team’s play this season.
Much of the basketball team’s success this past season were attributed to graduates Michael Davis, Nate Hollenberg and Mike Gately, when they were able to advance to the MIAA South Division One Finals before losing to Catholic Memorial.
This season, the basketball team is lead by three captains, senior Matt Mackowski and juniors Noah Neville and Ethan Wright. “They have done a great job,” commented basketball coach Paul Connolly. He added, “Based on last year’s team, after having voted, these guys received the majority of the votes which was a big part of my decision. I also look for leaders when it comes to my captains and these guys have definitely proved that to me.”
The Tiger basketball roster as a whole looks much younger than previous years’ with the roster consisting of only three seniors, six juniors, four sophomores, and two freshmen, making the team a very diverse group of ages. Connolly said, “The players that are returning know the expectations and culture of our program, and each year I have been fortunate to have underclassman, as they come back and become upperclassmen, know the expectation from me and know how to instill the expectations to the younger guys.” He described this as, “a perpetual system each year having returning players each season.”
Taking control of governing the boys’ basketball team this season, Neville and Wright have been able to lead the team to much success. Neville believes it’s not just about the captains, but also the whole team. Neville explained, “Last year’s experience really helped us prepare, so going into the season we had a lot of confidence and felt like we were going to be able to guide the team.” He then continued by adding that, “it’s not just us there are other players that are big parts of our team, so we are part of it, but collectively we all do a lot.”
Another team trying to fill massive gaps on their team is the boys’ hockey team. “After losing crucial players we have had needed a lot of younger guys who have not had a ton of experience to step up into bigger roles this year,” said senior Curtis Judd, a captain along with seniors Ricky Alexy, Zac Gordon, and Joe Zeidan.
Even though the team may have had struggles as of late with a rough start to the season, coach Jamie Gresser has high ambitions for the team. “The main goal this season is to earn an opportunity to play in the state tournament,” he said, adding, “We need to bring our best effort to every game and practice, win more puck battles and skating battles than our opponents, and play hard in all three zones.”
As for his team’s captains, Gresser puts full trust in them. He said, “They will be relied on not only for their hockey abilities but also for their leadership in helping teammates adjust to new roles.” With this different team, the captains will play a larger role in helping the team adjust to its new players as the season moves forward. “Although the season has gotten off to a slow start, we are beginning to come together more and more each day, so I’m very excited to see how our team progresses.”