Boys basketball: O’Malley returns to lead Groton-Dunstable

Crusaders reached Central Mass. semifinals last year

North Middlesex’s Tallon Craver dribbles the ball during a preseason scrimmage against Bedford. (John Love / Sentinel & Enterprise)
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The 2019-20 high school basketball season began in earnest this week, and numerous local boys squads are looking to build off excellent campaigns last winter.

Groton-Dunstable made some noise in Central Mass. last season. The Crusaders, who advanced to the Central Mass. Division 2 semifinals, bring back standout Joe O’Malley.

Here is a team-by-team capsule look at area programs:

AYER SHIRLEY

League: Mid-Wach D

Last year’s record: 2-18

Returning starters: Dekae Ebika, sr.

Other returning lettermen: Trent Barron, sr.; Tyler Meehan, sr.

Promising newcomers: Gus Angulo, sr.; Jared Cherico, jr.; Shawn Hebert, so.; Brian Holmes, fr.; Cam Marshall, fr.; Antonio Urbaez, sr.

Coach Rick Kilpatrick (1st season): “We have work to do. It will take some time, but I’m encouraged by the guys’ approach thus far.  Our goal is to simply get better: every day, every week. Ultimately, we want to play our best basketball in February.”

GROTON-DUNSTABLE

League: Mid-Wach B

Last year’s record: 17-5, lost to Medway in Division 2 Central semifinal

Returning starters: Joe O’Malley.

Other returning lettermen: Riley Curran, Tristan Chase, Elias Jiser, Charles Willis, Tim Stark.

Promising newcomers: Andrew Watkins, Kyle Plausse, Jack Barry, Zach Millett, Jack Blount, Matt Lamarre, Doug Thompkins.

Coach Greg Gillette (7th season): “Our strengths are speed and athletic ability, and the kids have been working extremely hard. We will have to really defend and everyone will have to rebound across the board for us to be successful.”

Players to watch: Joe O’Malley, Tim Stark, Riley Curran.

LITTLETON

League: Mid-Wach D

Last year’s record: 10-11, lost to Northbridge in Division 3 Central first round

Other returning lettermen: Kirrone Arone, sr., G; Tony DeSisto, sr., G/F; Jason Frisoli, sr., G; Brandon Witherell, sr., G; Adam Zaferacopoulos, sr., G/F; Jared Lelievre, sr., C; Braden Lynn, jr., F; Ttyler Merrill, jr., G.

Promising newcomers: Brendan Abetz, jr., C;  Will Allen, jr., G; Lincoln Palmer, jr., C; Alex Forziati, jr., F/C; Shea Gearty, so., G.

Coach Michael Foustoukos (1st season): “We’re extremely excited for this season. Our senior leadership has been phenomenal thus far and we look forward to continuing to build on the strong tradition coach (Mike) Lombard established during his tenure here.”

Players to watch: Kirron Arone, Tony DeSisto, Jason Frisoli, Shea Gearty, Braden Lynn, Tyler Merrill, Brandon Witherell

NORTH MIDDLESEX

League: Mid-Wach C

Last year’s record: 1-18

Returning starters: Kyle Blaisdell, Tallon Craver, Matt Haskins, Alban Baboci.

Other returning lettermen: Will McCarthy, Derek Higgins, Timmy Burson, Jake Morse.

Promising newcomers: Mike Messina, Jake Richard, Ryan McGrath, Ayden McGrath.

Coach Jon Doherty (1st season): “We have a lot of good pieces, a lot of positive energy and buy-in from a great group of kids. Really hoping to make some noise this year and work towards getting North Middlesex basketball back to its past success.”

WESTFORD ACADEMY

League: Dual County League Large

Last year’s record: 9-11

Returning starters: Jake Barisano, sr.; Josh Rosenstein, sr.; Declan Morse, sr.; Aryah Purandare, sr.; Ayush Purandare, sr.

Other returning lettermen: none.

Promising newcomers: Luke Bramanti, jr.; Mike Kennedy, jr.; Alex Oakleaf, jr.; Matt Sepe, jr.; Colin Reynolds, jr.; Matt Rosenstein, jr.; Ethan Wing, so.

Coach Chris Bramanti (8th season): “The strong sentiment is that the veterans of this team will need to quickly mentor the younger players, as the season begins with a bang at the home of the DCL defending champions, Acton-Boxboro. The tough DCL schedule will provide ample challenges to this young squad, but with positivity and the camaraderie already brewing, this could be a much improved team.”