Division 3 boys basketball preview

New faces lead Wareham's defense of title

By Michael Carraggi
Globe Correspondent / December 17, 2010

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Wareham is entering the season hoping to defend its Division 3 state title; of course, the Vikings know that “defending’’ is a strong word.

The Vikings lost seven of their top eight players and three 1,000 point scorers, including current New Bedford-standout Jules Tavares. They expect to get offense from senior forward Juwaun Gamble, who poured in 16 in a recent win over dangerous Martha’s Vineyard .

Coach Kevin Brogioli hopes the changes on the back of the jerseys will make the bulls-eye on the front that much smaller.

“There’s not much pressure on us, which is nice,’’ said Brogilo. “A lot of teams lost players ... I think the south may be wide open this year.’’

One of the few teams with an edge may be Lynn Tech, a Division 3 North finalist last season. The Tigers will try to rebound from a narrow loss against Bedford with a sectional title on the line, bringing back guard-heavy talent.

Bedford won’t find it hard to put last year’s memory of falling at the TD Garden behind it difficult since most of the team has graduated. The team returns only three players, but coach Jim Byrnes hopes that allows them to sneak up on some teams after being a strong squad in recent years.

“We might not get a top four seed, but we will have room to improve,’’ he said.

Richie Warren Jr., who led the Commonwealth in scoring last season, and Jerome Cooper will highlight coach Marvin Avery’s scoring attack. They will be complemented by athletic big Charles Collins.

Hamilton-Wenham, returning Cape Ann League All-Star junior guard Stephen Tam, is another team hoping to reload after losing league MVP Matt Cook.

Watertown will be trying to get back to the tournament after returning 11 players, including dynamic guard Marco Coppola.

The only guarantee in a wide-open Division 4 is that there will be a new champion.

Last year’s winner, New Mission, moved up to Division 2 after exhausting D4’s resources. Ready to fill the vacancy left by New Mission’s departure is a host of teams, led by the group the Titans wiped the TD Garden floor with in the championship game.

“I think we should be back in the hunt for (the D4 title),’’ said Cathedral coach Carnell Suttles.

Cathedral lost only four players from last season’s D4 South-winning squad, though one was Catholic Central Large MVP Earnest McNeil. Suitles returns three junior starters in forward Kyle Lawyer and league all-star guards Joe Green and Carlos Bermudez.

Manchester-Essex will boast a veteran squad that expects to contend after losing just one player from last year.

“Now that we’ve been here for a bit we can keep a one-game-at-a-time attitude,’’ said coach Duane Sigsbury.

One of the players returning is 6-foot-5 guard Joe Mussachia, who turned down six scholarship offers to attend Amherst and is one of the top players around, according to Sigsbury.


Starting 5

A preseason look at the top players in Division 3-4 boys’ basketball.

G — Joe Mussachia, Manchester-Essex

G — Marco Coppola, Watertown

G — Richie Warren, Jr., Lynn Tech

F — Connor Stockdale, Watertown

C — Justin McAfee, Bedford