The Winthrop High School freshman boys basketball team rolled to an impressive victory over Medford Monday afternoon.
The win brought head coach Aaron Daigneault’s team a step closer to a .500 record, but more importantly illustrated the overall improvement that the ninth graders have made since the opening day of practices.
The Vikings, led by Daigneault, a former Division 1 college athlete, and assistant coaches Jason Rockefeller and Kevin Adamson, are playing fundamentally sound two-way basketball and displaying the cohesive and camaraderie that have made their coaches proud.
Adamson, a Dom Savio basketball great who led the Spartans in to a memorable, triple-overtime game against Milton High at the old Boston Garden, said the players have been maintained a strong commitment to basketball, many having played together before on youth traveling teams in previous years.
“We have players who competed on teams in Winthrop parks and recreation leagues for two or three years so they knew each other’s roles coming in to our program,” said Adamson.
In Tuesday’s win over Medford, Luca Zanelli, a 6-foot forward, had the hot hand early, displaying a soft shooting touch and the ability to get to the basket and rebound as well. Zanelli is averaging 15 points per game.
Mike Chaves, Aiden Green, Victor Marques, and Juan Guaque joined Zanelli as key contributors in Monday’s game.
Chaves, a very good ballhandler and consistent scorer, is averaging 18 points per game. Also a quarterback for the football team, Chaves played briefly with the JV team this season.
Green can also handle the basketball well and is regarded as the team’s best outside shooter, according to Coach Adamson.
“Aidan has pure shooting techniques and can hit from long range,” said Adamson. “Mike [Chaves] is learning to penetrate the lane and dish and Aidan is reaping the benefits of that. They form a nice backcourt.”
Guaque is another talented guard in the Vikings’ backcourt. Guaque was immense against Medford early, decisively utilizing his ballhandling skills to scissor through the Mustangs’ full-court defensive pressure.
Pete Jurovich, a 6-foot, 3-inch forward, was a key member of the starting five before suffering an ankle injury. Jurovich watched Monday’s game from the bench, providing support to his teammates.
“Pete was dominant all season,” said Adamson. “This is his first year playing basketball and he’s improved since Day 1, He’s a good athlete and is a building block to the Winthrop program’s future.”
Ramzi Khelladi, a 6-foot, 2-inch forward, forms the other half of Winthrop’s twin towers. “Ramzi is improving and the more he plays, the better he gets,” said Adamson. “He’s made vast improvement.”
Osa Osuki, who moved to Winthrop from Tennessee, is also making improvement for the Vikings. “He’s a tremendous kid who loves basketball and is only going to get better every day by playing,” said Adamson. “He has an offensive skills and he’s the best passer on the team.”
Liam Turner has plenty of experience from playing youth basketball on a team coached by his father, Jeff Turner. “Liam is a phenomenal kid and a model student-athlete,” said Adamson.
Nick Reyes has made progress all season as a reserve guard. “He’s our three-point specialist,” said Adamson.
Manny Ventura is making positive strides in his first year of organized basketball.
Adamson expects several of the freshmen to continue their participation in the high school program, but they need to dedicate themselves to off-season training.
“They have to get in the weight room and play more basketball in the summertime,” said Adamson. “They have to have a basketball in the hands and dribble around town more. The future looks bright for Winthrop High basketball. There are a lot of sophomores on the varsity and our freshmen are going to help the team grow and be successful in the immediate future.”
The Winthrop High School freshman boys basketball team is having a successful season in the Northeastern Conference. Front row, from left, are Nick Reyes, Juan Guaque, Aiden Green, Mike Chaves, and Liam Turner. Back row, from left, are Coach Aaron Daigneault, Manny Ventura, Pete Jurovich, Ramzi Khelladi, Luca Zanelli, Osa Osuki, Coach Jason Rockefeller, and Coach Kevin Adamson.