First it was a 1-point loss to Westford. Then it was an overtime loss to Woburn. After that there was a tough 9-point defeat to Medford.
The Concord-Carlisle boys felt as though they were doing things correctly, but they were not doing enough to win. They shuffled through their first eight games of the season with a record of 3-5.
Since then, though, they have experienced a turnaround. The Patriots (10-6) learned to thrive in the inside-out offense taught by coach David Cohen, and won seven of eight games to put themselves in position to make the postseason.
“For us it’s just about getting better,” Cohen said. “Our system is a little more reliant on balance and understanding than some others, in the sense we have an inside-out game where we use both traditional post play as well as guard play. The coming together of two of those aspects sometimes takes a little longer.”
In wins over Dual County League powers Wayland and Waltham earlier this month, Concord-Carlisle’s various offensive weapons proved that they were hitting their stride at a pivotal point in the season.
Seniors Blaine Taylor (6-foot-5), Chris Sellew (6-5), Alex Sugarman (6-7), and Evan Boynton (6-3) give the Patriots plenty of size in the paint, while senior guard Zach Dowd has provided steady perimeter play alongside junior point guard Jameer Henderson, who leads the team in scoring with 15 points per game.
Whereas the team was searching for consistency to start the year, the Patriots have since established that they can be consistently good.
“We tried to control things early in the year to get it right,” Cohen said. “I think what happens is the kids start to make better decisions and start to play more on their own, and that opens it up and we start scoring more points, and I think we’ve had a better flow over these last couple of weeks.”
Without the team’s less-than-perfect start, Cohen said, he believes his players would not have made the same strides.
“I really do believe the struggle in the beginning helped us because it really demonstrated areas for us to improve,” he said. “Kids have been able to see the team develop and get stronger, which has sort of fueled our ability to work hard in practice.
“I think if we fluffed over those things and some of those close games go the other way, maybe the fuel’s not quite as strong.”