Ryan Roach has seamlessly orchestrated the offense at Cardinal Spellman in his four seasons as a starter, all the while demonstrating a plethora of on-court skills and a remarkably high basketball intellect.
But the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior from Weymouth has also done so with a calm demeanor and keen ability to embrace his surroundings, even displaying a willingness to inject a little humor when appropriate.
“He’s a point guard pure and simple,” acknowledged Mike Perry , now in his 38th season as head coach at Spellman.
“I’ve had other guards in the past that were also outstanding scorers . . . but he’s just been that ideal point guard in the sense that he always comes up and gets the offense running, runs the [fast] break and always looking to pass first.
“We’ve had to force him to create a little bit of his own offense. He’s always very unselfish.”
Roach, who is averaging 12 points, seven assists, and two steals per game for the 4-2 Cardinals, is a supreme ball handler who alertly monitors the whereabouts of his teammates before dishing passes with pinpoint precision at the most opportune scoring moments.
On the court, he’s both a general – succinctly and effortlessly directing Spellman into the correct defensive schemes and offensive sets, including pick and rolls and pick and pops – and a conductor – making split-second decisions. That court sense is reflection of his genes; his father, Kevin , is a former captain at Bentley University. And his older brother, Shaun , is currently a senior captain at Gordon College.
Together, his physical tools and mental astuteness make Roach an enjoyable, almost desirable, talent to play alongside.
Last season, Roach earned Catholic Central (Large) MVP honors in leading Spellman (18-4) to the Division 3 South quarterfinals. With a strong senior core, the Cardinals are shooting for their fifth consecutive league title, in addition to a deeper run in the tourney.
“Ryan controls the game,” said Austin Joseph, a senior who shares the backcourt with Roach at both Spellman and during the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) season as a member of South Shore Wolfpack.
“Everything goes the way he wants it. He speeds up [the tempo] when he wants to. He slows it down when he wants to. It’s really hard to press us when he is in the game.”
Back in May, at an AAU tournament in Springfield, Roach was playing in his customary fashion, leading the Wolfpack to their division finals and a second-place finish. Only he was going about it with a slightly different appearance from his usual clean-cut look.
But Roach wasn’t alone.
“Unlike every other AAU team where the kids are all older, we’re just a group of [eight] local best friends,” recalled Roach, who will play collegiately at Stonehill on scholarship.
“It was our last tournament together after a bunch of years, so I figured we might as well make it remarkable.
“We had a hotel the night before that we were staying in. My brother brought the buzzers so we figured why not just get crazy Mohawks.
“Me and Austin Joseph already had Mohawks going in, so we were telling everyone, ‘Yeah, we should get Mohawks.’ And then after we won a huge game Saturday night, everyone was like, ‘Yeah, we got to do it.’ Because we were all pumped up from the game we all got Mohawks.”
They subsequently nicknamed themselves Hot Nation.
Even now, when recalling the circumstances, it elicits a smile from the elder Roach, the coach of the Wolfpack.
“They knew it was a big tournament,” said Kevin Roach, also the varsity coach at South Shore Christian Academy. “They wanted to really represent and play well and play together. So they just said, ‘Let’s do it.’ ’’
Roach’s role in the decision was nothing new: passionately urging others to join him in a venture he viewed as team-building and memorable, if somewhat goofy.
It’s an approach that surprised few, including Perry, who understands Roach’s roots as well as the tight bond that exists between his leader and fellow captains Joseph and forwards Rory Donovan (who will play football at New Hampshire) and Joe Crane , who is leading the team in scoring at 18 ppg.
“Those four guys do everything together,” Perry said. “They’re just a real close group and I’m sure it was one of them saying, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’ ’’
This season, Roach and the Cardinals are honoring the memory of former teammate Joey Glynn , who collapsed and died this past June while playing in a men’s league game at the Watertown YMCA. Spellman is donning warmup shirts throughout the season with Glynn’s initials and number 21 printed on the back. He would have been a sophomore on the basketball team at Bentley this season.
Win for Duxbury girls
After watching the Duxbury boys’ program host a holiday tournament for several seasons, third-year girls’ coach Bob Sullivan saw an opportunity.
On Dec. 27 and 28, the girls’ Duxbury ProSports Holiday Tournament became a reality.
Featuring a field of four teams, including Marshfield, Notre Dame Academy (Hingham), and North Quincy, host Duxbury captured the inaugural event.
The Green Dragons dispatched North Quincy, 48-26, en route to the championship.
Catherine Harrison, a 6-1 junior co-captain, collected 20 points and 12 rebounds in the final to earn MVP honors.
In addition to Harrison, Jane Minton (North Quincy), Kendra Delahunt (Notre Dame Academy), and Maggie Ahearn (Marshfield) were named to the all-tournament team.
For Duxbury, which finished 21-3 last season and lost to Medfield in the Division 2 South Sectional finals, the early season success is coming despite losing significant talent from last year’s roster.
“We graduated three special players: Michaela North is at Tufts, Bridget Quilty is at Roger Williams playing, and Kate Norton , my shooting guard, is rowing at Michigan,” Sullivan said. “We lost, I believe, 42 points per game.
“This season we have a young team. Molly Quilty is 6-foot-4 and she had 13 rebounds against North Quincy. My point guard, Maddie Foote , has been playing varsity since freshman year.”
W-H wins in Florida
It’s become a tradition for the Whitman-Hanson boys.
The Panthers, under the direction of head coach Bob Rodgers, have traveled outside the state over the holiday break the last few years.
This past week, they went to the Florida Keys, and captured wins over Key West (70-53) and Marathon (78-49) to improve to 4-1 overall.Paul Lazdowski can be reached at email@example.com Follow him on Twitter at @plazdow.