Somerville High Winter 2011-12 Preview: Basketball

(written and photographed for Somerville Patch)

With the 2011-12 Somerville High winter season about to begin, Somerville Patch will be previewing all seven of the Highlander teams. Unsure how the Highlanders did last year? Want to know who might impact the upcoming season? Just want to know when the first game is? Read on and find out.

Boys’ Basketball

2010-11 record: 16-4 overall; 6-2 in Greater Boston League

The Highlanders put together a terrific 2010-11 regular season, earning them a preliminary-round bye in the MIAA playoffs.

“We had excellent guard play last year,” says boys’ baksetball coach Mark Antonelli. “I expect to hopefully have the same this year.”

The Highlanders lost their first playoff game to the Westford Academy Grey Ghosts, a loss Antonelli attributes to basic problems like turnovers and weak-side rebounding.

Antonelli says he hopes injuries to his more experienced players this season will help his younger players develop better fundamentals quickly.

“By the time everybody gets healthy and comes back, the group is better, is stronger for it,” says Antonelli.

First 2011 game: Friday, 12/13 at Xaverian Brothers, 7 p.m.

Home Opener: Friday, 12/23 vs. Malden Catholic at SHS Field House, 7 p.m.

Players to watch: Billy Bonnet, senior guard; 2010-11 GBL All Star

“He’s one of the quickest guards in the area,” says Antonelli.

Johnson Thomas, senior captain and forward

“He’s got a great makeup about him,” Antonelli says. “He’s a very intense individual. Plays hard on every play.”

Key to the season: Ball movement on offense, containment on defense

“When we hold onto the ball and dribble, dribble, dribble, we’re so small, we’re not going to get a lot of easy baskets inside,” says Antonelli.

“We can contain the ball, make things tough for the other team, and then hopefully be fundamental, block out and co-rebound.”

Girls’ Basketball

2010-11 record: 10-10 overall; 4-4 in GBL

In his first year with the Highlanders, girls’ basketball coach John DePasquale inherits a squad that graduated several key players from last year’s playoff-qualifying team. DePasquale says the inexperienced roster is a “great opportunity.”

“There are lots of roles that need to be filled by a lot of young players,” DePasquale says. “So it’s an exciting time for them.”

Though DePasquale says he likes where his guards are at offensively, the team still needs defensive leaders who can box out for rebounds and contain offenses.

“Probably our biggest challenge right now is defense,” DePasquale says. “Understanding how to stop drives, how to defend the ball and not let people get to the rim.”

First 2011 game: Friday, 12/16 at Pentucket Regional, 7 p.m.

Home Opener: Tuesday, 12/20 vs. Wachusett Regional at SHS Field House, 7 p.m.

Players to watch: Indira Evora, junior guard; 2010-11 GBL All Star

“She can handle the ball very well, she has an excellent shot, and she passes very well,” DePasquale says. “She is a classic, play-making, athletic skill-guard.”

Melissa Baptista, sophomore forward

“Defensively, Melissa is a hybrid,” DePasquale says. “She’s very effective inside and she’s very effective outside, defensively. Offensively, she’s right now more effective closer to the basket.”

Key to the season: Defense

“I don’t know that we’re going to be able to put up big numbers offensively,” DePasquale says. “And that of course requires you then to be a sound, effective defensive team.”

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