Published in the December 15, 2017 edition

By JENNIFER GENTILE

MELROSE—The 2017-18 Melrose Red Raider basketball team returns fresh off another playoff season and begin this Friday night at 7:00 p.m. at home against Lexington.

This year, Melrose returns with some fresh faces and experienced players that could keep them competitive in a tough Middlesex League. 

THE MELROSE High boy’s basketball team opens their season tonight at home against Lexington. (file photo)

Last season Melrose had a 12-9 campaign, with a playoff berth cut short by perennial strong New Mission, 56-46. Some of those Melrose starters return, including senior captains Dylan Vienot and Joe Stanton. Count on returning starter Frantz Pierrot to serve a big role on the floor, along with returning players Anthony Colozzo, Charlie Stanton and Mike Fennell.

“Our captains are great leaders,” said head coach Mike Kasprzak. “I’ve seen tremendous improvement with Joe, both he and Dylan are great athletes and players you want on every team.” 

Look for Melrose to have a spread out offense this season, in which no “one guy” will be responsible for scoring, and a lot of that will be behind the efforts of the aforementioned, but also some new faces including senior Pete Wiesen, senior Mohammad Sheriff, junior Jay Tucci, sophomore Brandon McSorley, sophomore Chris Cusolito, sophomore Luke Vlajkovic and freshman Amari Andrew-Brown. 

Last season, Melrose sported a very talented team who fought hard in a tough Div. 2 North field. This year, Kasprzak sees an up-tempo team capable of fast breaks while also serving up some big presences under the basket. Sharp shooting will be a focus as they kick off their season. 

“We want to find those clutch baskets,” says the coach. “With some experience we can do that. This is a fun team who will progress each game.” 

Across the Middlesex League expect teams like Arlington (top ranked) Watertown and Wakefield to pose challenges. Just another day in the M.L.

“There are no easy nights in the Middlesex League,” says Kaspzrak.

Melrose hosts Lexington tonight then faces a tough Arlington team on the road on Tuesday. 

Season schedule

Fri 12/15/17 v Lexington, 7

Tue 12/19/17 6 @ Arlington, 6

Thu 12/21/17 v Woburn, 6

Sat 12/30/17 @ Lynnfield, 2:30

Tue 1/2/18 @ Wilmington, 6

Fri 1/5/18 v Stoneham, 7

Tue 1/9/18 @ Watertown, 6

Fri 1/12/18 v Wakefield, 7

Fri 1/19/18 @ Burlington, 7

Tue 1/23/18 @ Belmont, 6

Fri 1/26/18 v Reading, 7

Tue 1/30/18 @ Winchester, 6

Fri 2/2/18 v Wilmington, 7

Tue 2/6/18 @ Stoneham, 6

Fri 2/9/18 v Watertown, TBA

Tue 2/13/18 @ Wakefield, 7

Thu 2/15/18 v Burlington, 6

Mon 2/19/18 v Lynnfield, 5

Wed 2/21/18 v Newburyport, 6:30