TOWNSEND — At the conclusion of last season, the Patriots longtime head coach Erik Dellasanta stepped down, which left the North Middlesex basketball community wondering which direction the program was heading in.
As the months passed, North Middlesex athletic director announced the promotion of Dellasanta’s assistant Justin Maly to the head coaching position.
From that point forward, North Middlesex has not skipped a beat.
The Patriots have unfinished business to take care of after falling in the Western Mass. semifinals at UMass Amherst to Longmeadow.
“The boys are looking really good in the first couple of weeks,” Maly said.
“They are adjusting to my new style of offense and defense very nicely. We are getting there slowly but surely. They want to follow the lead of last year’s team who made it into the playoffs and made it into the semifinals round at UMass Amherst. The kids are psyched and really ready to go.”
A high school team is only as strong as its senior class, and the chemistry between all of the players on the North Middlesex roster would impress Robert Boyle himself.
North Middlesex is captained by seniors Connor Glow, Drew Patno and Nate Sullivan.
“It all starts with our senior class,” Maly said proudly. “Drew Patno is Mr. Everything.
He can play just about any position well from the two-to-the-four. Drew is a true team basketball player.”
North Middlesex has a ton of size and length, but what can’t be documented with a tape measure is versatility.
“No one is delegated to one position,” he said. “Everyone can play anywhere we need them to. These guys are very interchangeable, and they don’t mind doing what’s best for the team. Out of the 12 guys we have, I can pretty much play anyone. They’re all skilled players.”
Glow is looking like the front-runner for the point guard spot coming into the opener with Algonquin. Getting some quality minutes in the shadows of Glow will be Zach Collins, who the coaching staff is expecting big contributions from.
At the shooting guard spot is the lanky junior tri-sport athlete Ryan Sharp. Sharp is North Middlesex’s highlight man.
“Sharp is an absolutely tremendous athlete,” he said. “Richie has the ability to knock down the big shot. He can dunk it behind his head with two hands — it is unbelievable what this kid can do. He’s got the size, speed and knack for the game. He makes those plays that coaches don’t even know how to teach, it just comes natural to him.”
On the other side of the floor at the other forward is Sullivan, who had a growth spurt over the last two years. According to Maly, the senior captain now stands at 6-foot-5.
“Nate is very effective above the rim, but that’s not all he brings us,” Maly said. “He has a great three-point shot. We look to him to get a lot of rebounds and act as a slasher for us.”
Kyle Monahan will be the keeper of the paint at a touch over six-foot-five.
“Kyle is a very tall and lengthy kid,” he said. “Kyle’s arms touch the floor, and he can clog up the lane with his wingspan.
“When we scrimmaged Main South and Shrewsbury this weekend they had to put floaters over him because his arms nearly scraped ceiling. He’s hard to get shots off around him. Kyle knows his game is under the rim. He is going to make some opportunities for himself by rebounding.”
Coming off the bench will be forward John Boutwell is a rugged defender, who is a competitor that knows what it takes to win.
Brandan Vargeletis is back after a brief hiatus last season. Vargeletis is a monster under the basket. He is not afraid to draw contact and rebound.
Junior guard Ryan MacDonald will come in for the Patriots in key defensive situations. Matt Wetherell is a lockdown defender.”Matt is a coach’s dream,” Maly said. “He does whatever we tell him. If we ask him to go shutdown a kid, he does it. That’s the story with this team. They’re hard workers who truly believe in the team concept. There are no personal agendas with this group. They want to win as a team.”
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