WOBURN — While Belmont should be the frontrunner this season in Middlesex League Liberty, the Woburn High boys basketball team figures to have enough of a mix of talent, experience, guts and guile to compete within the division, and perhaps return to the tournament.
“We are young, but we have some experience,” said 13th-year Woburn coach Tom Sullivan (155-124). “We are looking forward to the season.”
The Tanners, who finished 5-15 last year, will start their five returning players led by senior captain Kevin Barry, who is also one of the team’s vocal leaders.
Woburn is going to go with its usual four-guard lineup that preaches a drive-and-kick philosophy.
“What I like about this group is that they are all basketball players as their first sport,” said Sullivan. “They all love basketball and are terrific kids. I think that is a cool thing.”
The other senior in the starting lineup is Bryan Ahlin, who was one of the first few players off the bench, last year. Ahlin will have a presence both inside and on the perimeter.
“Bryan is our ‘x’ factor for the offense,” said Sullivan. “He can go to the rim and shoot the three.”
Junior Thomas Skeffington is going to be the big in the middle for Woburn. He is 6-2 and is coming off his first full year with the team after getting called up a few times as a freshman.
The other starting guards are junior Dylan McLaughlin and Joe Gattuso.
McLaughlin is the top scorer among the returning Woburn players as he averaged 13.1 points per game a year ago with 39 3-pointers.
Gattuso was good enough to be a sixth man as a freshman, and should be better on offense this time around after playing well defensively, last year.
The new players on the roster include Michael Chiodo, a sophomore point guard who is quick, a good on-ball defender who distributes the ball well.
Matt Wackrow is a junior who was the leading scorer on the freshman team, and then again on the junior varsity, last season. Sullivan is looking for Wackrow to make an impact with the varsity his junior season.
Will Kupris is another junior who should be able to contribute to the offense with his terrific shooting touch. Sullivan also likes his basketball IQ.
Adam Murphy is a Woburn kid who is back home after transferring from Malden Catholic. Murphy is a physical player who can do a little of everything. He’s been a little banged up in the preseason and should see his minutes rise, fairly quickly, once the season gets underway.
Junior Jake Perrotta did not play much his first two seasons, but should contribute a lot more this season after a productive offseason. Perrotta is good around the basket with blocks, rebounds and put backs. Another interior player looking for time off the bench is Drew Buchanan, a skilled and strong player who can do things around the basket.
Freshman Brett Tuzzolo is a promising talent who, at 6-2, can be an effective player both inside the paint and from the perimeter. He will likely split time with the junior varsity in the first half of the season before joining the varsity full-time in the second half.
“We are going to try and get better every day of the season, but all the intangibles are there,” said Sullivan. “We are going to try and push the ball, shoot the threes, and go to the rim when we get the chance. We need to play up tempo and smart.”
“The league is going to be very competitive,” he said. “You have to bring your ‘A’ game every night or you are in trouble. I like my team, though.”
The Tanners opened up their season with a win at Arlington.