It was a good season to be a Devil. Now, I would never walk into church on a Sunday morning and make that statement, but when describing the almost complete 2015-16 basketball season, it is certainly a pretty accurate description. No matter what school in the county you support, you have to admire what is going on in the basketball programs in Seaman.
Let me throw some numbers and facts at you- 14-1, 11-6, 15-4, 18-5, 19-0, 18-1, 8-7, 15-6, 16-8. Those are the records of all the teams in the North Adams system for 2015-16, an overall combined mark of 134-38. Not a bad year to be a Devil and there’s more. Two junior high boys teams win conference regular season and tournament titles, the seventh grade girls team does the same, the varsity girls win the conference championship and a sectional championship and are currently preparing for a game in the district finals, the varsity boys win a conference championship, might be time for a bigger trophy case in Seaman.
Any successful sports program requires coaching stability and the coaches at North Adams have become familiar faces with their longevity. Success also starts at the top and in my humble opinion, the Devils have one of the best in Athletic Director Tony Williams. I asked Williams earlier today what he attributes his program’s success to.
“The work ethic of our coaches and players are allowing us to have the success that we are having,” said Williams. “And it’s not just in basketball, it is in all of our athletics, our fall teams had great success with three sectional championships, and both golf teams qualified for Districts. Our community is so supportive of all of our student athletes. That support is a major contribution to our success. And I am a firm believer that success in athletics helps for success in the classroom.”
Makes sense to me. In the education world, there are always new teaching models coming along that everyone jumps on the bandwagon and follows, thinking that they have finally found that elusive key to student success. I believe the athletic success model is in Seaman at the moment and their fans and supporters should be quite proud because the cupboard certainly isn’t running dry anytime soon.
Now, I am not slighting the other schools in the county at all, just using North Adams as an example of an outstanding season. Basketball wise, things aren’t too bad in Peebles either, and they have built that coaching stability at the varsity level with Josh Arey and Vohn Hoop. It was another good year for the Peebles boys, and I am trying to type this column as quickly as possible so I can get on the road to hopefully see the Indians win another sectional title and trip to The Convo. Don’t sleep on the Lady Indians in the future either. Coach Hoop and his troops won 11 games this year with only one senior and have a pretty good group of junior high girls on the way.
In most cases, a new coach in a program takes awhile to adjust and succeed and that was the case this year in Manchester, especially with the girls program, seeing their fourth coach in four years. With a team forced to play freshmen a ton of varsity minutes, Coach Jacie Simon’s group struggled most of the season but showed marked improvement as the year wound down for them and that is a good barometer for such a young varsity team. Also, congratulations to Manchester’s Morgan Johnson, who despite every team keying on her, averaged over 20 points a game and in her final high school game, became the all-time leading girls scorer in school history. Not a bad way to go out.
You’d only have to ask him and Greyhounds boys varsity coach Kyle Pertuset will tell you that his team had a disappointing season. I was never able to put my finger on the Hounds’ problems but given time, I think Coach Pertuset will turn things around. It will just take the right mix to get the Hounds back on the winning track.
At West Union, Coach Jason Claytor did a stand-up job this year with the Lady Dragons, winning more games than any Lady Dragons team had in nearly a decade plus winning the first tournament game that the program had won in over a decade. Coach Claytor told me that he was thinking about looking for another coaching job, which again in my humble opinion, is a giant loss to the West Union program. Jason Claytor is a good man and a good coach and I will certainly miss him on the sidelines. Also someone should give some props to JV coach Ted Pennington,who quietly, or as quietly as Ted could, put together a great season with the JV girls.
On the boys side, the Dragons fielded a young squad that took their lumps, which was not unexpected, and again with a new head coach in Josh White. If White is given time and stays with the same group, success will come and he will also be able to challenge Rob Davis for the best-dressed coach award. Again, an argument for coaching stability.
It has been a long season and I will be the first to admit that I am pretty tired. With my added responsibilities here at the paper, I probably didn’t get to as many places as I usually would and I owe a sincere debt of gratitude to all the coaches who kept me going with their e-mails, texts, and Facebook messages. I always say that with the proper information, I can write the story and no one could ever tell I wasn’t really there. I also need to say a huge thank you to the folks at C103 Radio for letting me barge in on their post game interviews with my handy tape recorder, no need to make a coach answer the same questions twice.
Now, as the season comes to a close, I will try my best to survive some of the super-intelligent basketball fans that I have encountered along the tournament trail. I am proposing that for next year, all fans be required to pass a simple basketball IQ test before they can buy a ticket but I’m guessing that won’t go over real well.
It’s close to time to start thinking about spring sports and I am excited to change gears and to get outdoors. Of course, with snow in the forecast for later in the week, I may have to put that off for awhile. Anyway, a thank you to all the fans who have supported my work this season, all of your kind words mean a lot. I’ve dealt with thankless jobs so it’s nice to be appreciated. Congratulations to all the student/athletes for their successes from all of us here at The Defender. Now it’s off to Route 73, then 348…..and so it goes.