The 2018 Boys Varsity Basketball season looks to kick off the season hoping to have a great season like the 2017-18 season, where the Whalers finished with an 18-2 record but were knocked out of state tournament by the Cohasset Skippers, which was a devastating heartbreak for the Whalers.
This year’s Varsity team, captained by juniors Devonte Usher and Torane Burton, along with senior Victor Gamberoni, are gearing up for a tougher season with new goals. Old faces returning to the team include the likes of juniors Joel MacVicar and Wilmer Penalo, seniors Isaac Corbett and Gideon Holdgate, and returning sophomores Malique Bodden and Kenard Liburd. There are also new faces to the team looking to compensate for the five seniors who left graduated from the team last year. Fresh to the team and looking to make their mark are seniors Gamberoni, returning to NHS after a 2 years at Governor’s boarding school, Luke Brucher, a new 6 foot 7 student from Connecticut, and Prince McPherson, who moved from Georgia last year. Juniors Luke Mackay, sophomore Gannon Mooney, and the only freshman, Justin Bloise, are also new additions to the team. In total, there are seven new players to start off the season and fill the positions which were vacated by the five who have left.
When asked about how he felt about the new influx of players and how they compare to last year’s team, Coach Willis Ferreira, returning for his seventh year as head coach, stated, “We definitely lost a lot of experience from the seniors that left and I hope the new guys will fit in, but it will take time for the team to gel.”
Junior Captain Torane Burton also added that “there are a lot of young bloods on the team and, if we continue to use our speed and work on our endurance, we will win and go all the way.” When asked what are his goals for the team this season, he simply said, “Just to improve on the previous seasons.”
The preseason for the Whalers has been going well, and they look to improve every day so they can keep the Cape and Islands league title. MacVicar stated that “I expect us to have a great season if we work hard and practice every day because we have the potential to do better”. He gave huge praise to the coaches as he said, “the coaches do a great job by not pushing us too hard but providing a good mix of fun and hard work.”
As the coaching staff and players prepare for a tough schedule ahead of them, the league looks to be more difficult as main rival Martha’s Vineyard is now in the mix of competition. The Whalers are also expected to play Division 2 Nauset Regional, Division 4 South Sectional State champions Mashpee Falcons, and Abington High, just to name a few.
However, Coach Ferreira also said that “a tough schedule is good for us and it will definitely prepare us for the playoffs and better and equal competition is always a good thing”.
Captain Gamberoni is a key player that the team will be relying on for big plays to help the team out and he feels confident about the season ahead. He said that “I think our defense is going to be our offense this year and I hope the team peaks in February when it’s the playoffs and that’s how we are going to win the state title.”
Newcomer freshman Bloise is stepping up from JV and hopes to make his mark on the Varsity team, and to help the team in any way possible. When asked how he feels being on Varsity, he said, “It feels great playing Varsity as a freshman because it gives me experience and it is more competitive than JV but now I have to work harder because plays are more difficult now.”
The Whalers wrapped up their preseason by traveling away to Division 2 powerhouse Sandwich Blue Knights on Thursday, December 6 where the Whalers participated in a scrimmage. The Whalers stood their ground and played well, but Coach Ferreira still thinks there is room for improvement and it was a good competitive game to test and reinforce plays that he wishes to use in the season ahead. Two key players are battling injuries; with Mooney out with a broken nose and Usher with a concussion, the team will have to improvise for the first few games. The Whalers are scheduled for a season league opener vs Sturgis East on Tuesday, December 11 at home for a 5:00 pm start and then away vs Cape Cod Academy on Thursday, December 13 to get the 2019-19 season underway.
By Tajaun Francis