Pictured last season against Wellesley, senior point guard Jack Connell (1) will serve as one of three co-captains for Walpole High School varsity basketball in 2020-2021. Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The only thing for certain as it pertains to the 2020-2021 high school basketball season is that nothing is for certain. The reality of playing organized sports during a global pandemic is that every time a group of athletes takes to the court for a practice or game, it could very well be their last if a COVID spike occurs or the state of Massachusetts locks down again.
Even with all the uncertainty ahead, high school winter athletes will band together throughout the next several months and play the games they love in controlled fan-less environments. In Walpole, the varsity boys basketball team will look to make some noise in the Bay State Conference and put together a big bounce-back season.
Leading Walpole in 2020-2021 will be three captains in senior point guard and returning captain Jack Connell, senior guard/forward Charles Nicolas and junior center TJ Farrell.
“The team is definitely looking to bounce back from last year,” said Connell when asked about his team’s general goals and expectations. “Our major goal is to finish atop the Bay State [Conference]. I think we definitely have the weapons because our younger players are much improved from last year.”
As far as playing under the new rules instituted by the MIAA to combat COVID-19, Connell says he and his teammates will need to make adjustments. Certain rules include no inbound plays under the basket, no jump-balls and no halftime. Fouls at the end of the game have also become akin to Major League Baseball's new intentional walk rule - instead of actually fouling the opponent, teams will simply inform the referee of their intent to do so. However, Connell also says he and the Walpole boys have grown a greater appreciation for the game they love and they are just thankful to have the opportunity to compete together again.
“Obviously, the biggest adjustment will be the difficult task of playing with masks and how that effects the game from a conditioning standpoint,” said Connell. “However, I think the entire environment will definitely take some getting used to without fans, a locker room, and halftime. The actual gameplay didn’t undergo any major revisions, thankfully, but this season will take quite the adjustment period. That being said, basketball is basketball and I’m just happy I’m going to be able to go out there with the boys for one more season.”
The Walpole boys will tip off their season on December 18 at Natick at 6:30 p.m.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter and Instagram handles @flano0.