Bringing up Jake Jason anymore isn’t fair to the 2019-20 Old Colony boys basketball team, but it’s hard to ignore that, for the first time in four years, the Cougars have had to compete without the best player in the program’s history.
Although, the Cougars have done their best to create a new identity while sticking to the same principles that have made them a successful program under Coach Matt Trahan. This helped Old Colony qualify for the postseason fairly early in the regular season.
The Cougars’ consistent approach has also made it easy for Hunter Soares and JoJo Cortes to assume their roles as the team’s new leadership.
“(Soares) worked so hard in the offseason. He played AAU ball and really ramped up his game,” Trahan said. “He’s similar to Jake where he’s more of a multiple-threat (scorer) where he can take just about anybody off the offensive dribble. Get to the basket or step-back and drop a shot. Within the offensive system that we’re running, he’s getting touches, but he’s also finishing the job. He’s come a long way and been really, really effective for us.
“(Cortes) knows he can distribute. He can score, he’s leading the break. There’s a multitude of things to his game. He’s been in the system for the last four years and I feel like, this being a different year than last, there are a lot of pieces around him.
“It’s not like he has to take on the burden of running the offense. He can play the two (guard) if we need him, because you got Jarrett Taylor who can play the point and execute as well.”
With Cortes and Soares in charge and the team ready to show it still has plenty of talent, the Cougars have maintained the same approach since Day 1, which is why they have continued to develop throughout the season.
“They came in and were ready to go. It wasn’t one of those things where we had to mature and learn,” Trahan said. “It was more of like, ‘Hey, let’s go.’ You’ve got seniors that are ready to produce – can’t say enough about Craig Pratt and Cooper Howell, the other guys on the floor. Those guys motor each and every day.
“We’ve played in some really tight games, and to their credit, collectively, the kids don’t waver. The kids have played well in tight games.”
However, for all the good the Cougars have done, there is still room to grow. Because their ultimate goal remains the same as it does every year: win in the postseason.
“In my opinion, our defense, specifically, can always be better. That has to be consistent on a night-to-night basis,” Trahan said. “For us, it’s really based on the scouting report and what we see in the way we’re matching up… There are games where I may sit in one defense because it’s working. There are other games where you’ve got to move other pieces around. The kids definitely — they like that, I think, playing multiple defenses.
“We have to be consistent and keep getting better at what we do. It’s one of those things where you hit midseason, late in the season, I’m not a guy who wants to settle for, ‘Hey, we’re good.’ Our goal is to be great. At the end of the day, we want to make sure we’re climbing that ladder.”
With its 51-41 win over Diman Voke, the Old Colony girls basketball team is set to return to postseason play after missing the MIAA tournament in 2018-19. Hailey Hathaway led the Cougars with 17 points. Isabel Souza also finished in double figures (12 points), and Kat Kirby chipped in eight points.
Old Rochester girls basketball took a break from its South Coast Conference domination to play Dartmouth on Sunday. Both teams entered the game 11-2, but only the Bulldogs walked away with an improved record as they knocked off Dartmouth, 57-46. Logan Fernandes led the Bulldogs with 18 points. Cadence Johnson (15 points) and Mary Butler (12) each finished in double figures, as well.
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar