Will lean on talented, experienced front court

Published in the December 14, 2017 edition


NORTH READING — With seven players back, three of which that earned significant playing time last season, the 2017-18 Hornets are a talented but inexperienced squad.

“The first month will involve some growing pains and the only way for these kids to gain experience is to play in meaningful games, make mistakes and learn from them,” said Head Coach Joe Casey.

North Reading will be counting on their five seniors to show the underclassmen the way.

“We have five seniors who we will be relying on heavily, especially our three senior big men,” said Casey.

Senior forward Colin Boucher, who played a lot as a junior, stands at 6’2,” has excellent offensive skills, is a solid scorer and according to Casey has potential to be in the discussion for CAL All-League. The other two senior big men, captain Lionel Beane 6’3” and Tim Peach 6’5,” are both very athletic and excellent scorers around the hoop.

The remaining seniors will round out the starting lineup. Forward/guard and captain Burke Riesenberg can play almost any position and is the team’s best defender. Point guard Jared Gonzales in the words of Coach Casey has good speed, can shoot the ball and is a good floor general.

Juniors, captain Matt Solecki and Ryan Connor are the two other returners. Last season Solecki, who is a great shooter, was just beginning to be a top contributor before a foot injury ended his year. In the spring he tore his ACL so he will need time to get back into basketball shape. Conner will earn minutes off the bench.

There are plenty of newcomers making waves as well. Freshman Will Taylor is a natural point guard who is going to get significant playing time and is the first freshman Casey has carried on the varsity. Junior Ryan Landers at 6’4” is considered by Casey the most improved player and will backup the front court starters. Juniors Alex D’Ambrosio, Francis Walsh and Mike Mikula will provide intensity and energy off the bench.

Even with the inexperienced roster Coach Casey expects his team to make it to the state tournament.

“We face a tough schedule but our goal is to make the state tournament. We’ve been to the tourney four out of the past five years. This is a terrific group of kids that understand the tradition and want to see it continue.”