Published in the December 16, 2015 edition
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — The boys’ basketball team is back on the court and is ready to make some noise in the Cape Ann League.
The Pioneers concluded the 2014-2015 season with an overall record of 16-6. Lynnfield qualified for the Division 3 North state tournament and defeated Stoneham in the first round of the tournament. The Pioneers were eliminated from the tournament by Pentucket in the D-3 North quarterfinals.
With a strong nucleus returning this winter as well as several promising new players, Pioneers head coach Scott MacKenzie is optimistic his squad is poised for another successful season.
“I’m incredibly excited to work with the guys,” said MacKenzie. “We have a locker room full of fantastic young men who want to be coached and who are willing to put it all out there each day at practice. As a coach, you really can’t ask for much more than that.”
Two senior captains will lead the Pioneers this winter, one of whom is point guard Brendan Sullivan.
“Brendan is the backbone of the team and this is inarguable,” said MacKenzie. “He might very well be the toughest kid I have ever coached and his leadership abilities are outstanding. On top of this, Brendan can really play. Excellent defender. Excellent playmaker. And he never shies away from the big moment. The kid is just outstanding in every way.”
The Pioneers’ second captain is senior Jake McHugh.
“Jake is a two-year starter, three-year player and we are going to rely heavily on his shot-making ability and basketball IQ to help us win games,” said MacKenzie. “It’s been great to watch Jake develop into a terrific team defender and he is a sneaky good rebounder as well. He’s a basketball kid who loves to play and Jake’s experience on the floor will really help us when things get tight.”
The Pioneers have several key players returning this year, including junior Louis Ellis.
“Louis is going to be moving into a starting role for us this year,” said MacKenzie. “He’s blessed with a basketball body and a ton of talent. To be honest, this kid has the ability to be a big-time player in the league.”
MacKenzie also has high expectations for junior Mike Carangelo.
“Mike is 6’4” and is real long and can play inside and out,” said MacKenzie. “His versatility is unique and we need him to fill multiple roles for us. He’s another hoop kid with a real good skill set.”
Senior Esaie Philantrope will serve as a lockdown defender for the Pioneers.
“Esaie is such a phenomenal athlete,” said MacKenzie. “He really is and you just have to let him go when he’s on the court and let him create chaos, especially on the defensive end.”
The Pioneers also have high hopes for swingman Tucker Torosian.
“Tuck’s my dude,” said MacKenzie. “Last year, he was the ultimate practice player and worked his tail off to make everyone better. This year, he’s going to be on the floor at the wing position with an opportunity to score from the outside. The kid can shoot it and his hands on defense are outstanding. (He’s) just a great team player.”
While the Pioneers have a promising core this winter, MacKenzie said the locals need to focus on getting back as a unit each and every day.
“Right now, we need to work on everything and that’s not coach speak,” said MacKenzie. “We have 10 new faces in the locker room and that means getting 10 new players used to doing things day in and day out they way they need to be done at the varsity level. It’s a work in progress but that’s OK.”
The Pioneers faced Triton on Tuesday, Dec. 15, taking place after deadline. Lynnfield hosts Pentucket on Friday, Dec. 18, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The Pioneers travel to Masconomet on Monday, Dec. 21, beginning at 6:30 p.m.