Wakefield’s Mark Plansky returns to Field House, talks to team

Published in the January 3, 2018 edition

MARK PLANSKY, WHS ‘84 pictured here with Wakefield Athletic Trainer Sue Courchesne, returned to the Charbonneau Field House to watch the boys’ basketball team defeat Chelsea 78-52 on Friday night. (Donna Larsson Photo)

By DAN PAWLOWSKI

WAKEFIELD — On a frigid night at the Charbonneau Field House, the Warrior boys’ hoop team defeated Chelsea 78-52.

Mark Plansky, a WHS ‘84 graduate and McDonald’s All-American, returned to Wakefield High to watch the Warriors against Chelsea on Friday night. Head coach Brad Simpson introduced the Villanova grad and ‘85 National Champion to the fans before the game, and Plansky spoke to the team following the victory, completing a very important night for the Wakefield boys’ basketball team.

“I appreciate the fact that he wanted to come back and talk to the kids and give them insight so it was a special night,” said Simpson, who taught Plansky and his siblings at the Middle School.

The Field House might not have been as full as they were when Plansky played there (perhaps due to the weather), but the Wakefield legend was happy to return home to a place that helped jumpstart a career in hoops that he continues today as a college basketball analyst on ESPN.

“It got a facelift,” said Planksy of the Field House. “New floor, new stands. When we played here at times we had those upstairs stands filled up and got hundreds and hundreds people here, but not much has changed. I spent a lot of time here. Believe it or not I had a key to it. Frank Charbonneau gave it to me and I used to come in here all the time and shoot by myself.”

The Warriors responded with an impressive victory, taking a 35-26 lead into halftime before outscoring the Red Devils, 43-26 in the second half.

Senior co-captain Andrew Miller can’t unlock the doors at the Field House, but he’s got the keys to the Warrior offense, setting the tone with 13 of his 29 points coming in the first quarter. He followed that up with nine in the second quarter when the Warriors needed a boost. As has been the case so far in the young season, Miller seems to know when his team needs him to get a bucket.

“Andrew Miller really had a great first half,” said Simpson. “We kind of stalled in the 2nd quarter and he kept us going.”

The offense in the second half was more fluid and balanced for Wakefield, as senior co-captain Joe Carmilia-Smith and sophomore Ryan Marcus each had a three-pointer and two layups for seven points in the third.

“It was a great team effort in the 2nd half,” said Simpson. “We were finding guys on back cuts and corner cuts, baseline cuts and layups. When we weren’t getting that, we were getting clean looks on threes so I was pleased with the way we executed our offense in the second half.”

While the offense was just fine, it was the defense and team spirit that caught the eye of Plansky, as the bench, including the many players who couldn’t suit up due to injury, all stayed loud throughout, bringing about the biggest cheers after Marcus drew a charge in the fourth. Sophomore Quinn Bayers had seven in the fourth with the game mostly in hand, but there was the bench, still into the game as if it was overtime in the 1983 playoffs.

“Mark told the kids he watched two things: ‘On defense you play hard and you communicate. The defense really established the tempo for you during the game.’ Second, he thought even the kids that weren’t dressed gave us energy off the bench and a coach loves to hear that,” said Simpson.

The Warriors fell to Burlington last night in their first game of 2018. A complete game story will appear at a later date.