As the third in a line of brothers excelling in multiple sports at Mansfield, Makhi Baskin has essentially grown up within the football and basketball programs.
That extended family network provided vital support when tragedy struck the Baskin family a week before Christmas. Fred Baskin IV died unexpectedly. He was 27.
Surrounded by his teammates and basketball coach, Mike Vaughan, Baskin gave an emotional address at his brother’s wake Dec. 27.
“It’s been a blessing for us,” Baskin said, recounting his speech. “I said that [Coach Vaughan] has always been there for us through the ups and downs and that’s why all the players have a special bond outside of basketball. Without their help, especially Coach Vaughan, I don’t think I could be functioning the way I am now.”
After excusing himself from team activities for a few days following his brother’s death, Baskin requested to get back on the court. The senior guard helped Mansfield to victories over BC High (75-52), Attleboro (71-62), and Bridgewater-Raynham (65-24) over the holiday break before his Hornets fell, 63-45, in a Hockomock rivalry game at Franklin Friday.
Vaughan said Baskin asked to rejoin the team to “keep his mind off things.” Contributing in multiple sports has also become a family tradition, and a fitting way to honor his brother’s legacy.
The Baskins moved from Boston to Mansfield in 2009, and Fred IV made an immediate impact while helping the Hornets to the Division 1 South final. Middle brother Nick was a three-year letterman and played significant minutes as a sophomore when Mansfield lost a triple overtime thriller to Catholic Memorial in the 2013 D1 South final. Then, as a sophomore, Makhi helped Mansfield win its first state title in program history.
But before he was a key guard and a standout cornerback on Mansfield’s 2019 D2 Super Bowl team, Baskin was a 5-year-old hanging around the sideline during Hornet basketball games.
“I’ve known [Baskin] since he was a little boy running around the gym and across the court when he’s not supposed to,” said Vaughan.
“It’s unique when you’re coaching and you get the older brothers, and don’t think twice about the younger brother. Those [younger brothers] tend to be program kids. They’ve seen the way we do things and it’s my job to kind of show them the way.”
Before Vaughan served as his coach and mentor, Baskin learned from his brothers. He described Fred as a hard worker who stayed positive no matter the task. Baskin said both of his brothers helped guide him to find traction as a student and athlete, setting the table for his dream of playing college football to come to fruition.
“[Fred] always inspired me because he did the little things right,” said Baskin. “That’s what Coach Vaughan nails into us every day. The little things are the most important things. That’s what I try to do every day on the field, on the court, and in the classroom.”
Junior guard Matt Boen — he and Baskin are the only holdovers from Mansfield’s 2017-18 state championship team — is also following in the footsteps of his older brothers, Michael and Max, both of whom starred on the hardwood.
Even freshman Chris Hill, the younger brother of multi-sport stars Jeff and Brendan, is making an impact on the varsity, showcasing the continuity of Vaughan’s tight-knit program.
“We’re all a big family here at Mansfield,” said Boen. “I grew up with Makhi and I’ve known him forever. I know how much Fred meant to him, and it was hard for all of us. [Makhi] was emotional those first few practices, but every time he was down, we just came over and told him we’re here for him.”
Fred IV attended Bunker Hill Community College and continued to live in Mansfield while maintaining his passion for sports. The father of two played several seasons with the Brockton Bucs of the Eastern Football League and progressed in tryouts for the NBA’s developmental league.
Perhaps his biggest asset to the Mansfield community was his positivity, exemplified by a smile that Vaughan called “infectious.”
“Fred always had a special place in my heart,” said Vaughan. “He was not a bad person or a trouble maker. His smile lit up the room and I think Makhi is remembering all the positive stuff Fred offered and been as good as he can be under the circumstances.”
“I said to the whole team, ‘Life is precious. Life is valuable. There are things out there can suck the life out of you, and they’re not often done on purpose.’ It was a tough week. It’s one of those things you try to be as supportive as you can. And meanwhile, try to go out and win basketball games.”
■ In his 21st season as head coach at at alma mater, Matt Poirier recorded his 300th win Friday when No. 17 Scituate (5-1) ran past Plymouth South, 75-43. His son, Jack, poured in a game-high 22 points in what has been a stellar career. After the game, Poirier deflected credit when he said, “I have not made a basket at our gym since Feburary of 1984,” said Poirier, a former Scituate star. “As a coach, I have only been a small part of all these wins. It was the effort, dedication, and sacrifice of my players that won those 300 games.”
■ Lynn English suffered its first loss during a road trip to South Dakota over the holiday break. The Bulldogs fell, 63-42, to defending South Dakota state champion Yankton, but bounced back with a 77-53 thrashing of TechBoston in Saturday’s MIAA endowment game.
■ There were several exciting finishes on Friday night . . . Senior Peter Clearly hit a buzzer-beating three to lift Pentucket over Masconomet, 60-58 . . . Freshman Ryan Mela drained a triple with 2.2 seconds left to lift Milton, 64-63, over Natick . . . Shawsheen received 15 points from junior James Genetti to hang on, 62-59, and defeat Greater Lowell for the first time in 14 tries . . . Sophomore Jason Romans banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Bishop Fenwick a 57-54 win over previously unbeaten Cardinal Spellman.
Games to Watch
Tuesday, Charlestown at Brighton, 5:30 p.m. – Former Brighton coach Hugh Coleman leads the Townies against his former assistant, Kurt Martin , and the Bengals.
Wednesday, Hingham at Hanover, 6:30 p.m. – Behind 25 points from Pat Damon, Hanover handed Hingham its first loss of the season last January. These Patriot League rivals are ready to tangle again.
Friday, Cambridge at Acton-Boxborough, 5:30 p.m. – Cambridge had won four straight Dual County League titles before A-B beat the Falcons twice to steal the conference crown last year.
Friday, Franklin at Taunton, 6:30 p.m. — Can the Panthers stay atop the Hockomock League after scoring a huge win over Mansfield? An extremely talented Taunton team awaits the undefeated Panthers.
Friday, Andover at Dracut, 7 p.m. — After the Middies upset Lawrence, 70-68, last Friday, Andover will be on high alert in this Merrimack Valley crossover matchup.
Nate Weitzer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.