By Waverly Brannigan
After battling through an unusual season, the boys’ basketball team is heading to the Cape and Island League’s playoffs. As always, going to the playoffs brings excitement and motivation to any team, and the boys’ basketball team is no exception.
The boys’ basketball team’s regular-season record has them at 6 wins and 6 losses, which many players feel highlights the ups and downs the team has faced. Senior Captain Gannon Mooney notes, “Our team has been very up and down this season. When we are at our best we are a very tough team to beat, but we haven’t been able to do it consistently.”
This inconsistency is likely due to the nature of the season. Primarily, there were so many unknowns at the beginning of the season. There was the question of whether or not there would even be a winter sports season, which was then coupled with a long delay of the season’s start. Usually, winter sports begin right after Thanksgiving break, but this year, winter sports had a rough two week delay. This resulted in a decline in practice time and games, which can also counteract a decline in a team’s overall play. However, Junior Justin Bloise emphatically stated that, “We came together as a team day in and day out. We tried to stay committed and focused on achieving our goal.” He, and many of his teammates, feel that they were able to work very well together as a team to overcome the challenges they faced.
Since the MIAA canceled all state tournaments for winter sports this season, the only thing the teams have left is to conquer the Cape & Island League tournament. This is especially disappointing to seniors because they will not have the opportunity to compete at one of the highest levels to conclude their last season. However, Senior Captain Malique Bodden has positive feelings towards the league tournament. His end-of-season goal is to win the league tournament, which would seal his successful high school basketball career with an exciting win. Captain Gannon Mooney feels similarly, noting that, “We play in a good league, and it will be fun to play these teams in a playoff-like atmosphere.”
The chance of playing more competitively has kept the team going this season, especially as they were all coming from the intramural fall season. Bloise was very glad to have the opportunity to play basketball competitively, as his “favorite aspect of the season was being able to still play even during the pandemic, and the times were we were able to have fans come in and cheer for us.”
As a high school athlete, one of the best parts of the experience is being part of a tight-knit team, and the support the community brings to games is uplifting and motivating. Getting the opportunity to have that sense of a team and community back this winter was a very welcome shift from the fall season, because it allowed for so much more excitement and desire within sports, like basketball.
Of course, the team had to adapt to the Covid-19 rules and regulations that were imposed on the season, which players across the board feel like the team handled well. Mooney feels that the team did a great job following the new MIAA regulations this season, even though there were some changes to the game. The changes that players had to adjust to included completely eliminating jump balls from games, only allowing 3 people and the shooter in the paint for free throws as opposed to the regular seven total, each game beginning with a coin toss to deem possession, and of course, masks having to be worn at all times.
Bloise says, “We have been following the protocols to keep people safe on and off the court, but the adjustment we had to make to playing in masks was especially hard until we got used to it.” Playing sports in masks is definitely a challenge for athletes of all sports, but due to the pandemic and priority of keeping people safe, the mask requirement has been handled very well by the boys’ basketball team.
The boys’ basketball team has had a great season so far, focusing on handling the ups and downs of the pandemic as a team. The most important aspect for many players was the ability to be able to play basketball competitively with their teammates. As a senior, Bodden was grateful to keep “building another family with these guys,” and Mooney agreed, as he personally has “enjoyed being with the team… having a great group of guys and it’s nice to be back in a real team setting after the fall intramural season.” In the end, the opportunity to be playing interscholastic, competitive sports overpowers the disappointments of Covid-19 rule changes and regulations. The boys’ basketball team has been incredibly successful in strengthening their ties as a team by following safety protocol and giving their all to the game. As they move into this year’s postseason with the Cape & Island League tournament, their enthusiasm and love for the game will be a primary factor in helping them reach their goals.