Rangers Basketball: Most Successful Season in a Decade

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Last year, at this very same time, I wrote an article for the Lobby-O about the disappointing basketball season for the Rangers Boys Varsity team (https://lobbyobserver.org/lobbyo/2016/02/rangers-on-the-rise/). While chronicling how tough the season was, I still titled the article “Rangers on the Rise”. As a player on that team, and someone who has been around baskeball for my entire life, I knew that the group of guys returning had the chance to do something special; something this town hadn’t seen in awhile. My teammates didn’t let me down, and proved my prediction right.

Heading into the season, nobody, including most people from our town, believed in our Rangers team. This was due to a multitude of reasons, most notably the wrecked season last year, as well as the divisional realignments in Central Mass which placed our team in the Mid-Wach B league with perennial powerhouses Nashoba, Groton-Dunstable, Marlborough, and Fitchburg. The experts in the area predicted a fifth place finish in the league for us: another dismal season would be in store.

I was named the solo captain of the team, and my goal was to change the culture of the entire basketball program, which had been in the dumps for the past few years. The season started, not in the winter, but back in the summer, when we came in third place in the most competitive league around: the Crompton League in Worcester.

When the team was picked in the first week of December, the outcome shocked some people, with a strange team makeup of 7 seniors and 5 sophomores. While all 12 players had at one time or another played in a varsity game, there was minimal game experience on this team. After the first week of practice, we were ready to tackle the hardest schedule Westborough Basketball had ever faced.

The season started with a 69-61 victory over neighboring Division 1 rival Shrewsbury, behind a career high 18 points by myself. With an upset to start the season, we springboarded the best season by the Boys Varsity team in over 10 years. Throughout the season we won our second straight Auburn Tournament, qualified for the Clark Tournament for the first time since 2014, went to the Clark Finals for the first time since 2007, qualified for the District Playoffs for the first time since 2014, and won 14 games; the most ever in Coach Brian Willar’s tender, and the most since 2007.

Our season ended with two straight gut wrenching losses in the Clark Finals to Bartlett (22-4), as well as a first round exit to Groton-Dunstable (19-5). While it was a tough end to the season, and my career, I understand how successful our season was, and how positive the future is this program.

The varsity team will graduate 7 seniors who have left an imprint on this program like no other in recent memory. Next year, it will be tough for the new squad to deal without myself, James Coffey’s, captaincy, defense and shooting ability; Ethan Gaffney’s speed, heart, and work ethic; Vinny Rosa’s height, 3 year veteran leadership, and rebounding; AJ Nowak’s veteran savvy, will to win, and natural scoring ability; Ryan Hughes’ sweet jump shot, athleticism, and height; Reed Chandler’s energy, athletic ability, and defense; and finally Kyle Clarkson’s 3 point shot, positive energy, and flexibility.

However, with all that the team is losing, next year’s team shows promise to continue a streak of winning seasons for Westborough Basketball. With five sophomores returning: Jack Lentine and Dom Caspariello, in addition to three starters Matt Doherty, Mike Doherty, and Jake Hughes, the team looks to excel next year. The Mid-Wach B league will not be as dominant next year, so look for the Rangers to make a push for their first league title since 2014.

Last year, I predicted in my article that it would be no surprise to see this year’s team win the league title, as well as go to WPI in the District Tournaments. Unfortunately, the league was loaded this year, and our team was one game away from WPI. However, with a strong returning core next year, I’m going to keep the same prediction: don’t be surprised to see Westborough winning the Mid-Wach B, Clark Tournament, and making a strong push towards WPI.
In my completely unbiased opinion, however, they will never be as good as the 2016-17 Rangers.