Nauset Basketball Teams Hope To Thrive Under Second-year Coaches

by Brad Joyal

ORLEANS – Despite losing its starting core from last year’s team, the Nauset boys basketball squad will look to build under second-year coach Kevin Harrigan this winter.

The Warriors will look a little bit different this season without 6-foot-9 center Nico Harrington and 6-foot-5 power forward Dillon White — two former starters who graduated from last year’s team — but this year’s group has plenty of familiarity and experience playing together.

“The varsity team is a lot of guys that have known each other for a long time,” Harrigan said. “They are a very close group. We lost a lot of our size from last year in Nico and Dillon, so we’re a different team than we were.”

Nauset will look to play a faster style, with junior Joey Berardi returning in the backcourt and senior forwards Jacob Knight and Liam Johnston and senior guard Kieran Handville also providing veteran leadership.

But Harrigan said there will be plenty of newcomers as well, and that will force the Warriors to gain chemistry early in the season.

“It’s going to be a lot of guys at the beginning of the year that haven’t played a ton of minutes before, but they are definitely ready athletically and we’re excited about how it’s going to look,” the coach said.

Harrigan said he’ll lean on Berardi a lot after he gained valuable ball-handling experience last year as a sophomore.

“He’s worked really, really hard to take on a larger role offensively,” the coach said. “The ball is going to be in his hands a lot this year.”

The team won’t have many easy games, according to Harrigan, who noted this year’s schedule will provide a challenge against teams from across the Cape and Islands and beyond.

“If we’re lucky enough to make it to the tournament this year, I want us to be experienced playing against teams that are really high quality,” he said. “We’re going to have our fair share of tough competition. There aren't going to be many gimmes.”

Like the boys program, Nauset’s girls team will also be led by a second-year coach in Jean Leyton. However, unlike the boys, the Warriors girls are loaded with a deep senior class that has been starting in varsity games for years.

Seniors Gabby Foster, Jordyn Streitmatter, Jill Ernstrom and Samantha McIsaac will lead this year’s team after rarely leaving the court throughout last season, although Leyton said they should have some more help coming off the bench this winter.

“This is the best numbers that we’ve had in years, so I’m really encouraged,” Leyton said. “I have a couple freshmen that are going to be quality contributors for the varsity. Our four seniors are going to be able to get some rest this year.”

Although Ernstrom has been sidelined during the preseason due to injury, Leyton said the group of seniors should have no trouble picking up where they left off last season.

“They’ve been together for a number of years and they know each other in and out,” she said. “I think the hard part is going to be assimilating that one other person in there with them. Jill is hurt, she broke her finger and can’t play for another week or so, so we might have a freshman starting with them.”

After struggling to hold leads or stick with opponents as games wore on, Leyton said she’s hopeful this year’s team will be built to last.

“Last year, we held our own but in the fourth quarter we got so tired,” she said. “We let a few games slip through our fingers that way, but this year I’m really expecting that we should be better at finishing games.”