The re-building process - or, perhaps, the re-loading process - for our basketball program is well underway. Obviously, schools don't routinely expect to win seven consecutive state titles, an accomplishment on which Coach Gomes and the rest of his staff no doubt look fondly but leave it where it belongs: neatly tucked away in a trunk with a sign on it that reads, "PAST". Last season, Coach Gomes didn't really know what to expect. By his own admission, the basketball program was in a state of transition, and going up against the best that the state has to offer two or three times each week during the winter months wouldn't make the process any easier. With a mix of strong but inexperienced underclassmen and a few seniors, the Hawks managed to finish the regular season with a 9-9 record. That does not, however, tell the whole story, as the team began to gel towards the end of the season and really came together during both the division and state playoffs. In fact, their push during the state playoffs was so good that they were about 1/2 second short of moving to the state finals, as Ryan Hagerty's tough, desperation shot at the buzzer splashed the net just a fraction of a second too late (at about 2:20 of the clip) in a frustrating 48-47 loss to Hope.
Graduated from last year's team are stars Will Tavares and Kazre Cummings, and there's no doubt that their talents and leadership will be missed. Our guys return quite a lot from last season, including senior Will Parmlee, juniors Matt Duffie and Ira Lough, and sophomore Kyle Hensler. Those key players are joined by the likes of outstanding freshman Justin Mazzulla and junior transfer Andrew Ciacarelli, giving the Hawks a solid and more experienced core. As this season unfolds, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch and find out just how good this team can be.
The Hawks got things off on the right foot last night in their first game of the regular season, a league matchup against Mount Pleasant (a game broadcast live right here on The Network, and which can still be seen at the top of the page and/or at our UStream link at the bottom of the page), a team that's more often than not in the thick of things in the state title chase, as they always have talented, athletic players and some guys who can shoot it. The Hawks prevailed, 58-44, but the seeming decisive nature of the final score is not in any sense indicative of the kind of game it was.
The Providence Journal has a slideshow of the game HERE:
In a word, the game was schizophrenic, which, given that it's this early in the season, it pretty understandable. Teams are still figuring themselves out at this point, to say nothing of going up against good competition. Our guys were largely in control of the game for the first half (leading 26-21 at intermission)and into the second, helped bu a 7-point outburst from junior big man Ira Lough. The Hawks were making pretty good account of themselves throughout, as some highlights attest:
With the flow of the game seeming to be with the Hawks, the Kilties put on a furious push and actually took the lead about halfway through the second half. Truth be told, the Hawks probably put themselves in that position by ringing up throughout the game dismal numbers on something that often drives head coaches to distraction: the free throw stripe.
You have to hit your free throws. Missed ones always come back to bite you where you hate it most.
In the end, however, the Hawks put together a run that was a combination of tight defense, some hoops in transition, and some efficient ball movement in their half court offense to pull away.
Coach Gomes reacted to the season-opening win:
All in all, it wasn't a bad start to the season. It will be fun, though, as has already been pointed out, to watch this group over the course of the season and to find out just how good they can be.