By Joan Harris, contributing writer
This winter, Nantucket is showcasing an extremely strong boys basketball team composed of many veteran players along with a full cast of youthful and vivacious newcomers. This diversity of backgrounds, combined with the fact that every player on the team is skillful in their own right and as a unit, has awarded the team with their 3-1 record.
According to sophomore Carlos Aguilar, this singular loss is an anomaly that they will be sure to rectify in the rematch. Aguilar’s faith lies in the progression the boys have made in the off-season, as many players took initiative and practiced on their own, personal time. They possess essential height in JJ Bennet (senior) and Jack Halik (sophomore), as well as speed and agility in co-captain Justin Bloise (senior) and Aguilar. Experienced coach Willis Ferreira is very content with his lineup, pinpointing this group as unusually adept on the court, hopefully leading to a fruitful season.
Co-captain Karson Wellington, Junior, believes that “if we maintain our stamina and continue as we have been playing, we can be a state championship-winning team.” Wellington is sure to be a standout player throughout the season, in defensive aspects specifically, as his stature supplies a much-needed solidity in the foundation. This impressive roster provided the team with their 71-29 season opener win against the Tri-County Cougars, a game in which JD Heneke, a sophomore, excelled in particular, going six for eight from the three-point line and amassing 22 points total.
On most teams, the wide-reaching versatility that is ubiquitous among the Whalers would be enough to solidify serious success. However, Nantucket possesses much more than just their copious amounts of dexterity, and a large part of their accomplishments can be accredited to the friendships present among the boys. They strengthen these bonds by use of competitive banter during practice, a mechanism Wellington says is “all fun and games and increases ambition.”
Each player brings something different and effective to the table, with Bloise saying, “our strengths include quickness, height, and physicality. Our starting five is dominant and the players on the bench are skillful.” Makai Bodden, senior, is a successful outside shooter, Bloise is efficient at inside scoring and transitioning, and Augulair frequently creates important open space and maintains good court vision. The intense artistry in virtually all fields combining to create an effectual rhythm during games.
Bloise, beginning his last year of high school basketball, is a strong leader for the team and a prime example of hard work and dedication. He, along with other seniors such as JJ Bennett, Bodden, and Max Beebe, will be substantial losses next season as they venture to new opportunities. Continued success will rely on underclassmen Jayquan Francis, JD Heneke, and Aguilar; if their current performance is anything to go by, this is a role that they will be sure to step into. These three first exhibited their strong capabilities and game understanding last year during their first varsity exposure, and have cemented themselves as extremely competent, effective players. This year, they have guided Jack Halik, KC Holdgate, and Dwayne Martin, also underclassmen, into their first varsity year. These new contenders, under the trio’s knowledgeable eyes, are shaping up to be tremendous court players.
The Whaler’s boys basketball team, due to their tremendous and tangible amounts of skill, combined with their well-roundedness as a unit, will surely be a threat to their division’s championship. This possibility will likely be around next year as well when new recruits step up to bigger responsibilities and fill the enormous shoes of departing seniors.