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By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
The 2017-2018 season marks a new era for Walpole High boys basketball. The departure of longtime head coach David St. Martin last April certainly served as a bit of a shock, and the Rebels will be without three of their five starters from last season as Luke Esty, Brett Von Klock, and Jordan Washburn have all graduated.
This season, Mike Masto, formerly an assistant and the JV coach at Franklin High School, takes over as head coach of the Rebels. Masto says that he holds clear and simple expectations for the 2017-2018 Rebels, and believes that if his team does all the things they need to do to be successful and improves game-by-game, the positive results will come.
“The only expectation I have is that the guys show up, compete, and work as hard as they can,” said Masto. “This idea was really emphasized throughout tryouts and at our preseason meetings with the players and parents. We’re going to work a lot on the process of getting better and we’re not just focused on outcome and the wins or losses aspect. We’re focused on the way we play, how we play, and the ways in which we execute.”
Captains for the 2017-2018 Rebels are senior guard Trey Wilkes and junior guard Matt Falvey. Masto says that Wilkes and Falvey hold high expectations for both themselves and their teammates, and that each has done a, excellent job at getting the group ready for the season.
“We’re a young team, but we have some outstanding and experienced captains in Trey and Matt,” said Masto. “Every guy on the team thus far has shown up with the mindset of getting better and has bought into what we’re trying to do.”
Masto also says that junior center Bryan DiPasca and junior guard Matt Chamoun should serve critical roles for the Rebels in their first varsity seasons.
“Bryan is somebody that we are going to rely heavily on to rebound a lot and be in the post,” said Masto. “He’s earned the right to start with his hard work ethic and the way he utilizes his size to his advantage. Matt’s shooting and dribbling abilities make him a perfect fit for a sixth or seventh-man type of role. Whenever he’s on the court, he’ll be our two or three, and we have a lot of ideas that we’ve drawn up to get him the ball and make him a pivotal part of the game plan.”
Obviously, coming off of a season in which the Rebels failed to qualify for the postseason, there is room for improvement. In order to improve from last season and possibly make a run to the state tournament, a point of emphasis this season will be execution and guys buying in and doing all the little things right, according to Masto.
“I can’t speak upon what happened last year,” said Masto. “I know that if these guys buy into the process like they have in the first couple weeks, that we’ll be an extremely focused team. I’ve worked hard on not measuring success by wins or losses. If we’re the more skilled team on a given night and we execute the right ways, we’ll win. If we’re not the more skilled team but we do all the little things correct and we execute, we can win. If our guys take off their jerseys for the final time at the end of the year and say ‘I did all I could and played to the best of my abilities,’ then they’ve done all I or the rest of the coaching staff could possibly ask of them. We’ve really bought into that mentality and I’d obviously love to make a playoff push, but the true measure of success this season is going to be how we compete and collectively having an open mind to building this new system.”
The Rebels will open up Bay State Conference play when they host rival Needham on December 15.
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.