BILLERICA – Heading into last season, Shawsheen Tech Basketball coach Joe Gore and his staff knew they had a talented team on their hands, one they felt could certainly compete in a challenging Commonwealth Athletic Conference. But they also figured that perhaps they were about a year away from truly competing for the top of the league, with a still relatively young roster.
As it turned out, they were almost right about their team, as the Rams certainly were a talented squad ready to compete in the CAC. The one part they got a little wrong was the timing, as the Rams not only competed well in the CAC, they actually tied for the regular season league title with Lowell Catholic, going 10-2 on the campaign while splitting a pair of meetings, before the two teams agreed to face off in a winner take all game after the season to determine a league champion.
Unfortunately for the Rams, a hot shooting Lowell Catholic squad took the league title that day in a game played at Shawsheen Tech. But even with the loss in the de facto championship game, Gore, who is now entering his third season as head coach of the Rams, was thrilled with the progress his team made last season.
“Two years ago, when we took the team over, we knew we had a very young, but a very talented team,” Gore said. “We really peaked one year earlier than we thought we would, but that was because everyone bought in and connected, so because of that we were able to have a very good season.”
As good as last season was for the Rams, the even better news for them is that while they were forced to say goodbye to some key players like James Genetti and Jake Tyler, they bring back most of last year’s team, as they attempt to make another run at the CAC title.
“We are super excited for what we are bringing back and we are very excited to get underway,” Gore said. “We lose some good scoring with Genetti and Tyler, but this is a group we are very excited about. We are absolutely looking to win the league title. That is our goal. We also scheduled a very tough non-league schedule to help prepare us for the league schedule. We have set our expectations very high for this season.”
One of the biggest reasons for Gore and the coaching staff’s optimism is senior point guard Jeremy Perez of Tewksbury, a two-time CAC All-Star, who has become one of the best players in the CAC. Gore believes that Perez has a future playing beyond Shawsheen Tech, but before that happens, he is looking for another big year from his talented point guard.
“Jeremy is getting some looks from Division 3 schools. We are hoping he can lead us this season,” Gore said. “He can score very well, but he is really an old school, true point guard, who makes everyone around him better. He is also one of the better defenders in the league. We are really hoping he can propel us to the league title.”
Joining Perez in the backcourt will be senior Jeff Kelly, giving Gore a duo that he is very confident will have a very successful season.
“They are one of the better back courts in the area. We are really excited to see what they can do this season,” Gore said. “Jeff got some minutes for us last season as a sophomore, but he has probably worked harder than any kid I can remember in our program. He has been in the weight room five days a week and he works with a shooting coach multiple days per week. He is fully committed to his craft, so we are excited to see more growth from him this season.”
While they are strong in the back court, the Rams will also be talented up front with 6’5 junior center Aiden MacLeod as well as junior forward Mavrick Bourdeau.
“Aiden has developed his footwork and post moves over the past year and he is gaining confidence all the time. We are expecting big things from him,” Gore said. “Mavrick brings a ton of energy on both sides of the ball. His speed and athleticism will be huge for us.”
Another key player for the Rams will be senior forward Tim Sweeney, whom Gore sees as having the potential to be the top player in the CAC.
“Tim will be an x-factor for us. If we want to win our league and have a great season, he will be a key for us,” Gore said. “If he can get comfortable on the wing with his offensive abilities, he will have a great season. He has the potential to be the league MVP.”
Another pair of players who will see key minutes for the Rams will be freshman guard Frank Moron as well as junior guard Gianni Zompa.
“Frank played with the Middlesex Magic AAU team and he is one of the smartest players on the court. He is very athletic and he is going to contribute immediately for us. We are very excited to have him,” Gore said. “Gianni has the ability to come off the bench for us and get us ten to 15 points in bursts.”
The Rams captains will be Kelly, Perez and Bourdeau, along with fellow senior Adam Quattrocchi, all of whom Gore believes will provide excellent leadership for their teammates.
“Their leadership off the court made it a no brainer for us,” Gore said. “They are four kids who define leading by example. They are just relentless in their leadership whether it is in the gym or getting the kids together to play. They lead by example, and that is why the other kids bought in and that makes our job a lot easier as coaches.”
One of the things that the coaches and players are most excited about this season will be welcoming fans back to their gym after having no spectators last season. Gore is particularly happy to be welcoming fans back to the Rams newly named Mark Donovan Gymnasium.
“The fact that we are allowed to have fans in our gym is great,” Gore said. “Also, every time we step on the court, we will see that we are playing at the Mark Donovan Gymnasium, so that will always be special for us. He was a wrestling coach, but he was always our biggest supporter. He was a symbol of working hard and out working your opponents. We hope to go out and represent coach Donovan well, and compete for the league title.”
• • •
The Rams have gotten off to a 1-1 start to the season, with a 40-30 win over CAC rival Whittier in their season opener last Friday night in a road game. Shawsheen was led by senior captain Adam Austin Quattrocchi, who had 12 points and eight rebounds, while junior captain Mavrick Bourdeau chipped in with ten points of his own.
Shawsheen followed up their season opener with a tough loss to strong Chelmsford team on Tuesday night, falling by a score of 82-54. Senior captain Jeremy Perez led the way for the Rams with 23 points, while freshman Frank Moron added 17 points in a losing cause.