By Bob York
Unless you happen to skate, ski or swim, chances are the winter season is the between season – between football and lacrosse. And if either sport is high on your list of collegiate endeavors, then staying in shape during the winter months is of the utmost importance. And for many an aspiring athlete, that means a trip to the gym to sign up for basketball.
“As usual, we had a bunch of great athletes on this year’s roster,” said Conrad Pitcher, the Big Green boys basketball coach, “but unfortunately, basketball wasn’t the primary sport for most of them.
“Irregardless of what sport they’ll be playing once they get to college,” added Pitcher, “there’s no doubt they brought their athleticism to the basketball court and made this a competitive team this season.”
The final tally showed Deerfield owning an 8-14 record, but six of those losses came by 10 points or less, including an overtime loss to Andover and a one-point setback on a buzzer-beater by Taft. “Heck,” said Pitcher, “we only lost to Northfield Mount Hermon School … the New England Class AAA champions by 16 points and only trailed them by five at halftime.”
The Deerfield boys hoop program was able to call upon the services of five postgraduates this season, which is the most it has had in recent memory. And while most had their eye on the prize in another sport, Sam Wilson didn’t. He majored in hoopology and as far as his mentor is concerned, he earned his master’s degree in three months.
The 6-5 forward who was named the team’s Most Valuable player, “did a great job for us this season,” Pitcher said of the Big Green’s leading scorer, who averaged just over 21 points per game. “Basketball is Sam’s primary sport and he’ll definitely find a home for himself next year on a Division III team somewhere.”
The other postseason hardware that was handed out went to William Hess (12), who was named the team’s Most Improved Player.
A pair of post grads drew the starting assignments in the backcourt, where Harry Glor averaged 10 points and three assists per game. Glor, who will be playing football in the fall at Amherst College, tuned up for his collegiate debut by hauling in 25 passes for 320 yards last fall for the Big Green. Glor’s partner in the backcourt was Mark Glicini, who Pitcher described as “my floor general and an outstanding defensive player,” averaged 10 points and seven assists a game as the point guard, “and we’d generally stick him on our opponents’ primary scorer in the backcourt,” said Pitcher. As for Glicini’s future, it will take him to Yale, where he will play lacrosse.
Another forward on this season’s squad was Brian Pickup (12), who is Princeton bound, where he too, will play lacrosse. On the basketball court, he averaged eight points and four rebounds a game, and according to Pitcher, “was one of the most hard-nosed kids we’ve had around here in quite some time. “For a forward, he was only 6-2, but he more than held his own against kids much bigger than he was.”
Maybe that’s because he likes to rough it up it bit, like he’ll be doing in lacrosse and exactly the way he played the game of football. This past fall, Pickup grabbed 14 passes as the Big Green’s tight end and was one of the team’s leading tacklers as he played defensive end as well. And due to his all-around high level of play, he was awarded the prestigious Thomas Ashley Award as the team’s MVP.
Another guard, post graduate Pat Dugan, is looking to play Division III football on the collegiate level next fall, as he was the Big Green quarterback this season and was connecting with Glor, Glicini and Pickup well before the basketball season started.
“Pat didn’t even play high school basketball, but he gave us a try and he did pretty well for himself,” said pitcher. “He really worked hard and was truly selfless … he’d rather set someone else up than score himself.”
Not everyone on this roster is one and done, however. Pitcher does have some players who logged playing time who are scheduled to return to the fold.
One is 6-3 power forward Patrick Ononibaku (14), who averaged five points and four rebounds per game “and his long arms allow him to compete against players who are taller than him,” said the Big Green coach. The other returnee with some clock time is small forward T.J. Randall (13), who stands in at 6-1.
Other players coming back who didn’t see much playing time this season are Taylor Harris (13), Billy O’Neil (13) and Chris Ortega (13).