Coach Jim Dolan focuses heavily on making his team feel like a family, and the boys’ basketball program at Weymouth High is the better for it.
The Wildcats have come a long way since the 2008-09 season, when they didn’t win a single game. Dolan said that the difference this season is not just the players, but their goals.
“In our program we try to work on them to be better people and leaders and hopefully leaders in the school community as well as on our team,” said Dolan. “They don’t want to let each other down. They’re really tight on and off the court.”
The word “family” that is printed across the back of the team’s warmup shirts has a more literal meeting for senior captain Connor Deegan .
The 6-foot shooting guard grew up watching his two older brothers play for the Wildcats.
Patrick Deegan , a 2011 graduate who captained a Bay State Carey championship squad, now plays at Connecticut College. His oldest brother, Tommy , the BSC MVP as a senior, is the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,245 career points). He went on to play at Bates, graduating in the spring.
“They were always playing basketball, and I always wanted to play with them,” said Deegan. “They were competition. I was always playing with them and their older friends. They always pushed me, helped me, and supported me in all my games. They really made me the best player I can be.”
Deegan, averaging 16.6 points per game this season, spent the offseason honing his skills with the Prodigy AAU team. Teammates Ryan Jones , Tre’von Betts , Dave Harrison , and Daron English also played on the AAU circuit.
Jones, a 6-foot-2 junior averaging a commanding 19.6 points and 15.6 rebounds per game, takes his role as a leader seriously.
“Well, I set an example by being very vocal on the court,” he said. “I make myself known on the court. I want to make my team ready for the game and motivate them before games as well.”
Dolan has watched Jones mature as an athlete, from a sophomore reserve to a team leader.
“We were 17-4 last year,” said Dolan. “We had a good year and Ryan showed a ton of potential and he’d have some good games. Being a sophomore on a varsity team, he wasn’t consistent yet. He’s worked really, really hard in the offseason and that translates to success on the court.”
Harrison, the starting quarterback for the football team this past fall, will be a major contributor, but is currently sidelined with an ankle sprain.
The 6-foot-4 power forward averaged 9 points per game last season, the most among the team’s returning starters.
As a three-year starter, Harrison has the experience to help propel Weymouth to the state tournament.
The Wildcats are encouraged by their 2-1 start, considering that Harrison has not played and all three games have been on the road.
“He’s going to be a big factor once we get him back,” said Jones. “He was a starter last year, one of our returners. Once he gets back he’ll jump right in really quick. He’s been doing this for a while, so we’re going to be really good once he gets back.”
The Wildcats are also relying on point guard Betts and English, a transfer from Norwood. Betts averages 8 points per game, but English is out for the time being after rolling his ankle during the 67-59 win against Dedham.
Returning starter Ryan Andrews drained five 3-pointers on his his way to a 17-point night in a 77-61 win over Framingham.
“What’s nice about this team is we’ve got some players returning,” said Dolan. “They’ve been part of a program that’s been very successful the last couple years. Coming into this season there were some kids that had to step up who hadn’t played big varsity minutes. They want to stay part of that successful program winning basketball games and doing it the right way.”
Doing it the right way to Dolan means being role models 100 percent of the time, whether or not they are playing basketball.
“Our kids help out in local Weymouth junior basketball leagues,” said Dolan. “They work a summer camp, Weymouth Summer Hoops. We’re trying to create a program with the whole community involved.”
There is undoubtedly a sense of community within the team. From getting ready before a game in the locker room, to working out in what the team calls the “dungeon” weight room, the players do it together.
“Our team is really a family,” said Jones. “We’re brothers. We’re with each other before and after games, on the weekends. We’re always with each other and we have a great friendship off the court. Coach Dolan, we listen to him. He knows what he’s doing and he gets us where we want to be. He’s a really good coach and I love him to death.”
Four teams ready
for Adams Classic
The North Quincy (2-2), Braintree (0-3), Weymouth (2-1), and Quincy (2-2) boys’ programs will match up in the Adams Basketball Classic Thursday and Friday.
North Quincy and Weymouth both fell in the first round of the 2012 Division 1 South tournament.
Coryn Doncaster can be reached at email@example.com.