TOWNSEND -- The 2013 installment of the North Middlesex Patriots boys' basketball team coached by Erik Dellasanta is deep -- how deep are they?
Seven seniors deep.
"We don't have a stud who is going to get 20 and 10 every night," Dellasanta said, "which is good because it could be anyone on any given night."
The Patriots graduated their two senior leaders in Francis Philips and Ryan DeLuca. Dellasanta, despite losing Philips, DeLuca and six-foot-six center Caleb Baker, is confident that his team has what it takes to make it back to the post season.
"Ryan was an unbelievable defender and probably one of the hardest workers I've ever had," the coach said. "Francis was dangerous -- he took a lot of pressure of the other guys cause people were defending him. We will certainly miss them, but we will have guys filling in. This is a big senior class. We have seven seniors, and I think they are all ready to compete now at the level we need them."
Filling the shoes of Baker at the center position will be senior Sammy Heller. Heller is a six-foot-three banger inside who has bulked up in the off-season. Heller has the ability to drive the lane from the perimeter inward, and he is a tough two-way rebounder on both sides of the floor. Also battling for playing time at the forward position is six-foot-three junior Austin Lowrey. Lowrey boasts a big frame that gives the Patriots a bruiser inside that can draw the contact in the lane and convert. Lowrey is coming off a stress fracture in his foot, but when he is 100 percent, he will pose a big mismatch inside for opponents.
Also seeing playing time at forward will be the junior gridiron gunslinger John Boutwell, who unsurprisingly has a knack for finding the open man in transition with pin-point accuracy.
"We got some big and physical kids, so we are going to be okay there." Dellasanta said.
However, where the Patriots will be the deepest is the forward position. Dellasanta returns Bobby Larson and Drew Patno on the wings.
The biggest surprise coming into the preseason at the forward position is Richie Sharp, who sprouted a couple inches over the off-season. Sharp can shoot the lights out of the gym when given the opportunity. "Last year, he was just learning the varsity game as a sophomore at the point guard," he said. "Now he is ready and is all in. Richie is a good athlete."
Leading the Patriots into battle at the guard position will be senior Tyler Thomas, a Mid-Wach B All-Star a year ago.
Thomas dropped 10 points in the all-star game, but his value to the Patriots can't solely be measured in the number of points he scores.
"Tyler Thomas is like a rock for us -- he is just a competitive kid," the coach said. "He is a true leader. He shoots the ball well enough, but he does like to make his teammates better. He will be our point guard, but we have three-or-four guys that can role in there."
The Patriots will run a shooting guard platoon system where who will get the start will depend on the match-up that night. At the moment, Lucas Ravanis is the starter due to his aggressive on-ball defensive skills.
KKing 12/16/13 The following paragraph calls drew patno a shooting forward and a power forward. Is there a name missing?
"He wants to be a good defender," coach said. "He is shooting well enough to help out the offensive side. At the three-spot will be shooting forward Drew Patno -- he is very athletic and well above the rim. We don't usually have a kid like that. I am going to have a hard time keeping Mark Rossi out of the line-up he is really working hard.
These kids really like each other and they just want to win. They are really focused."