Season home opener Sat. night against Lincoln-Sudbury
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE — The 2014-15 Red Raider hoop teams returns this weekend for its season opener against Lincoln Sudbury at the Melrose Middle School gym at 6:30 p.m. Saturday night. According to Melrose coach Mike Kasprzak, the Raiders are entering its season optimistic and energized.
“We have a good core of seniors coming back and a solid freshman and sophomore class,” says Kasprzak. “This team is confident in their abilities. We like where we are now.”
Many of this starting core just hung up their cleats from Melrose’s Div. 3 Super Bowl appearance at Gillette Stadium. “We’re about a week behind in terms of full team practice because of the Super Bowl. We’re playing catch up a bit,” Kasprzak confirms. Returning from Gillette are starters such as Colby Andrews, Will Caffey, Christian Pizzotti, Mike Cusolito and Julian Nyland. “We went easy on them for the first few days, because they’re tired. It takes a few days to get their legs going, but they’re at full capacity and will be ready.”
After two reigning years of league champ status, the Red Raiders (12-8) settled for second place in the league in 2013-14 behind Watertown. This year there is no reason to believe they can’t duke it out with their rival Raiders for the top spot and go further in playoffs with an experienced core returned. “I think the Freedom League in general is a little more balanced then last year and we expect Watertown to be strong and Belmont and Woburn the toughest in the large division,” says Kasprzak.
Representing Melrose are senior captains Colby Andrews, Will Caffey and Christian Pizzotti, juniors Julian Nyland and Nick Markley, sophomore Tamahri Mercer, junior Mike Cusolito, sophomore Avery Davis, senior Charles Bonasoro, junior Will Brincheiro, sophomore Sean Prendergast and senior Anthony Gilardi are among those who will lace up this season. Last year’s leading scorer Colby Andrews has the potential to put up numbers for an MVP season. In last year’s playoff run Andrews led the Raiders with a career high 29 points against Woburn, who knocked Melrose out. “Colby was shooting for over 20 points a game at the end of the year. This year we also expect him to provide defense as well and stretch the floor.”
Caffey is another player to watch. The senior captain is a decorated 200M runner and just coming off a heroic performance for Melrose at the Super Bowl. “Will has speed and his footwork is improving, we’re looking forward to seeing what he does.”
Overall, the success of the program tends to breed more of it. Melrose has qualified for playoffs for four years straight after a long hiatus and this year they hope to go one step further. They have the chance to start off on the right foot Saturday when they host Lincoln Sudbury at home. First tip is at 6:30 p.m.