“Remember us.” Boys’ varsity basketball team co-captain Joe P. ’19 utters this as a reminder and as a creed, but if you’ve seen the team in action this season, you already know they’re hard to forget.
With only three returning players from last year’s squad— Joe, co-captain Deandre O. ’19, and Kenden A-R. ’18— the first order of business for head coach Papa Lo this year was to integrate the new players and get everyone on the same page defensively. “Coach Lo is intense with defense,” says Deandre. “He always wants us to be talking on defense. Last year was different, we had a bigger frontcourt. We have more scoring ability now, but—”
Joe cuts in. “It all starts on defense.”
J0e and Deandre often finish each other’s thoughts like this, a synergy that has served them well on the court, but more importantly, in their long-lasting friendship. “We’ve known each other since fifth grade,” offers Joe. “We got each other’s back.”
The Winchendon Wapiti basketball team has reached the halfway mark of their season in formidable fashion, dropping only two contests thus far. A vital key to their success has been in sharing the ball on offense, a philosophy that begins and ends with Joe and Deandre as court leaders. “Doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” notes Deandre, “Coach wants us to get everybody going, get everybody a touch early in the game.” When the ball is whipping around the court, too, scoring and big plays can come from surprising sources. “Rowan N. ’19 has been great,” offers Joe. “He’s stepped up to become our point guard. He’s started and come off the bench, but he gives the same energy, regardless. David K. ’17 is a pure hustle guy. He defends the pick and roll better than anyone.”
When your captains are extolling the valuable virtues of their teammates and, in Joe’s words, “going out and doing what we’ve been taught to do,” then success— and not necessarily always in terms of wins and losses— inevitably follows. What would be a fitting ending to the season? “Championship,” the boys crackle in unison again. Now that would be memorable.