In a sea of towering basketball players, the smallest player on the floor breaks away, springs into the air, and drains the ball. Less than 30 seconds later, he does it again.
His name is Kyrell Luc, and at just 14, he was the player on Scituate’s roster as it dismantled Pembroke, 71-51, Dec. 15.
Scituate is one of two currently undefeated teams nestled by the coast to have defied obstacles that should have derailed their seasons. The other, Cohasset, is missing a star player; but for Scituate, it’s simple: The team is young.
Luc’s already a valuable piece on head coach Matt Poirier’s chessboard, and perhaps his added moves will help the team rebound from last year’s 76-45 loss in the Division 2 South quarterfinals to Falmouth.
“The more that he becomes comfortable in our system,’’ said the coach, “the more you’re going to see from him.”
In his first year, Luc isn’t an outlier on his team, now 4-0 — he’s more the norm.
“I don’t see us as a young team,” said Poirier. “We’ve asked our freshman to be a junior, our sophomores to be seniors, and our seniors to be freshmen at the college level.”
By Poirier’s logic, there are nine seniors and three first-year college players available on the court; by ours, nine sophomores and a trio of seniors, all of them familiar with Poirier’s demanding style.
Courtside during games is no time for the coach to be gentle with his group, and practices are only tougher. When sophomore Elijah Gantt jogged back from poking a three-pointer, his coach pulled him into the huddle and demanded that he sprint.
“I will not compliment them into mediocrity,” said Poirier. “I love them, but this is not an easy program to play basketball in.”
Poirier expects his team to treat every practice as a rival match, every game like sudden death.
“The way they enter the gym will determine our success,” he said.
A lot of trust is put in the coach’s son, sophomore captain Jack Poirier, to carry that mentality. He posted 15 points in downing Pembroke.
Size may not be Scituate’s strength, but what the crew lacks in inches, they try to make up for with breakneck speed.
“We have a saying,” said senior guard Jack Bernier. “ ‘The game should be slower and easier than practice.’ ”
That’s why it’s rare for senior Abel Lopes Jr., who opened the season with 20 points against Archbishop Williams, to have both feet on the ground when the ball is nearby.
“You gotta get tall with the tall guys,” said the 5-foot-11 guard.
Despite Scituate’s sparkling record, Poirier believes perfection is a distant mirage.
“The sprinting, the communication, the chemistry, defensive rotation is all a process,” said Poirier. “I still don’t think we’re there.”
Currently, there’s also a hole in the lineup in the shape of Aidan Sullivan, who, despite injuring his knee this fall, still calls commands to the formation on the floor.
“He’s the quarterback,” said Lopes Jr. “His leadership is still here on the court.”
Sullivan’s loss hurts Scituate, but he’ll be back in a month; meanwhile, Cohasset lost Chase Bomeisler for the season.
Cohasset went 17-6 last year, in large part due to Bomeisler’s 21 points and 12 rebounds per game, before losing to Cathedral in the Division 4 semifinals. But then Bomeisler tore his ACL in preseason football.
“It’s tough because he was gonna be a 1,000-point scorer within the first couple games of the season,” said Sam Lelio, a point guard. “But that adversity is going to help us a lot this year.”
Head coach Bo Ruggiero is pushing his upperclassmen to right the ship.
“When you’re 6-foot-7, and you’re averaging 21 points a game, no one man can replace that,” said the coach. “Right now, everyone who was expected to contribute will have to contribute that much more.”
Junior Thatcher Stone played deputy to Bomeisler last season, posting 16 points on average. His defensive skills mirror his offense, as the 6-foot-4 shooting guard can stretch from sideline to sideline, find the hoop in the paint, and “pick passes that people don’t expect.”
“We’ll have to see if he was legitimate,” said Ruggiero, “or if it was because we had a big aircraft carrier [in Chase] to clean up the mistakes.”
So far, Stone is more than legitimate, delivering 30 points against Southeastern in the second game of the season.
Lelio and fellow senior Tommy Carrabes each put up six points a game last year. This year, they’ll need more.
“I’m not very big,” said the 6-foot-1 forward, “but I’m a physical presence on the court. When teams see us, though, they see consistency in our size.”
It’s still a big team, despite Bomeisler’s loss, with no player under 6 feet.
“You always come to play the game,” said Ruggiero. “You play with the team you have, not the team you wish you had.”Katherine Fominykh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.