Their season begins at home on Tuesday night
Published December 7, 2018
By JENNIFER GENTILE
MELROSE—The Melrose High boy’s basketball team returns after another winning season in 2017-18. Last year, Melrose advanced past Masconomet in an overtime playoff thriller before bowing out against Belmont. This year they hope to use that playoff experience to build upon their winning tradition.
Head coach Mike Kasprzak, now in his 12th year as Red Raider coach, previewed their early season. “In practices I’ve seen some promising defensive moments and also stuff that we need to work on,” he said. “I think, like last year, there will be balance in scoring. We’re in the process of finding combinations on the floor that work. The starting five can change at any time.”
Leading the charge this year are tri-captains: junior Luka Vlajkovic, junior Chris Cusolito and senior Jay Tucci. Melrose may have lost eight seniors last year, but they return with three playoff-experienced players who will help Melrose battle in a brutally tough Middlesex League. Expect junior forward Luka Vladjkovic to make up a large part of Melrose’s offense. He brings height to the game and will be a dominant force under the glass. “Luka has had a great offseason and loves the game,” confirms the coach. “He’s a skilled player with good passing.”
Kasprzak likes what he sees with Jay Tucci on defense. “He is a real balanced player who brings tons of energy to the floor. His defensive skills are strong.”
Cusolito, meanwhile, is a strong point guard for the team but comes into the season injured, which opens up a guard spot.
Melrose has many new players this season including seniors Jade Jones, Harry Kelley, Dana Montiero, Luke Pashoian and Marino Preziosa.
Forwards in that group include Kelley, who brings height and energy to the floor, according to Kasprzak. “He’s a jack-of-all-trades who can shoot and rebound well.” Junior forward Brandon McSorley is a player the coach describes as, “able to do a lot. He can shoot a long ball.” And Robert Wiesen is a new player who, “hustles good, rebounds well and brings lots of energy.”
Guards include Jade Jones, Luke Pashoian, Charlie Borstal, Ryan Maher, Marino Preziosa, Dana Montiero and Matt Morrisey. Any number of them could be in the mix as a starter. Says Kasprzak, “There are some good defenders and high energy kids with basketball I.Q. in this group.”
One promising prospect for Melrose is the new addition of freshmen Holden Symonds, a club-ball player who is sure to keep the league on notice this year.
While Melrose has the ingredients to be a very competitive team this year, what their recipe is remains to be seen.
“We return a core of experience in our captains who bring energy and basketball-first skills,” says the coach. “That said, we have a long way to go in finding our identity. I see us having the freedom to play at a different pace this year and there is already great chemistry. We’re just looking forward to getting out there.”
Melrose opens their season against mega tough Arlington on Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Melrose Middle School gym.