Entering the 2017-2018 basketball season, Old Rochester Regional’s coach Steve Carvalho expected his team would still be a strong team in the South Coast Conference, but not necessarily at the level ORR boys’ basketball had been in recent seasons.
“Right now we are, I don’t want to say unproven, but we’re certainly inexperienced in the post,” Carvalho said before the season. “I don’t have experienced kids who’ve played at the varsity level. I think they might get there though.”
Yet here they sit 10-1 (6-1 SCC) having only lost to Apponequet, the SCC’s top team. And that’s with one of the team’s top players, Jason Gamache, missing seven games (Games 3 through 9).
“Coming in, I knew I had three very good guards in Gamache, (Bennett) Fox and (Cole) McIntyre,” Carvalho said. “We’ve had a lot of contributions across the board from a lot of other people. But the kids have done well.
“I’m proud of the kids and what they’ve done,” he continued. “We’ve had to win some tight ones of late. We’ve had to learn how to win in different ways, including our last game where we were behind.”
There was some concern with the team losing its presence in the post after losing Matt Valles to graduation. More importantly, how would it affect the Bulldogs on the glass – something the team needs in order to execute the game plan.
“Rebounding is a daily conversation,” Carvalho said. “Our rebounding is so essential because it triggers our running game, and our running game triggers easier looks and that puts us in a press. Connecting the dots. We want to set tempo.”
That’s something Carvalho has always stressed with his ORR team: set a high tempo from start to finish. Though some changes have been made in the half-court offense, the approach hasn’t changed much.
“Identity overall, Bulldog basketball, yes it’s still the same,” Carvalho said. “Mainly on the offensive end I’ve been tweaking things a little. At any given time, I have four, sometimes five, guards out there. But we’ve made some adjustments offensively, but we’ve always had somewhat of a spread offense.”
Fox, ORR’s 6-foot-3 guard, has been immensely consistent throughout the year, averaging 17.6 points per game. But he can’t bear the load on his own. So while Gamache was on the sideline for an extended period of time, the Bulldogs saw a few other players fill in the holes. Instead of a three-man show, with McIntyre being the third player, Old Rochester has become a complete team.
“Cole McIntyre hasn’t surprised me, but with those two (Gamache and Fox) getting a lot of attention nightly, he was the key to come in and average double figures, and he’s certainly done that, averaging twelve points,” Carvalho said. “Jake Asiaf has really played well of late. He gives us this kind of point forward. He rebounds, plays defense. I’ve been really happy with him. Matthew Brogioli’s been rebounding, giving us all the athleticism. Sam Hartley-Matteson has come in as a big man. Collin Fitzpatrick’s back, Jake Yeomans, we’ve had kids come contribute at the guard position.”
But Asiaf has been the one really big one this year, says Carvalho.
“After not playing last year, he’s really gotten better week-to-week. He’s really helped us out a lot,” Carvalho said.
While the rest of the SCC might’ve hoped for a down year for the Bulldogs, it’s become clear that once again they are one of the greater forces throughout the conference.
“I never use the word rebuilding, but there were a lot of holes to plug,” Carvalho said. “I knew Bennett (Fox) and Jason (Gamache) were going to be good, but we didn’t have Jason for those seven games. For the kids to win all those games – except the Apponequet game – without him … I mean, Jason was an SCC all-star last year: thirteen points a game, he plays defense, he rebounds. So from that end, I couldn’t be happier with our record.”
ORR’s girls’ basketball team continues to dominate as well, improving to 9-1 (5-1 SCC) after a 54-38 win over Dighton-Rehoboth. Mary Butler led the Bulldogs with 16 points, while Cassidy Yeomens scored 14.
After both the boys and girls take on Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech, they’ll both play Wareham on Friday. The boys will be on the road for a 6:30 pm start, and the girls will host the Vikings.
Old Colony boys’ and girls’ basketball continued their run of strong play, defeating both Bristol-Plymouth and Bristol Aggie last week.
The girls’ team has now won six straight, improving to 9-1 (2-0 Mayflower Athletic Conference) on the year. Abby Cioper led the Cougars in the 44-27 win over Bristol Aggie with 14 points, while Savanna Halle added 10. The Cougars will visit Upper Cape on Wednesday at 5:00 pm and then host South Shore on Friday at 5:00 pm.
The boys’ team is now 8-3 (2-0 Mayflower Athletic Conference), having won five-straight. Jake Jason continues to average just over 23 points a game (23.7). Zach Soucy was able to score 15 in the 81-36 win over Bristol Aggie, while Hunter Soares added 11. The Cougars host Upper Cape on Wednesday at 6:30 pm and visit South Shore on Friday at 6:30 pm.
High School Sports Update
By Nick Friar