Ipswich Basketball Preview

Jason Finkst , Journalist

As the highly competitive Cape Ann Basketball League steps back into the winter spot light we ask ourselves, how will our Ipswich Boys Basketball Team compete this year against the powerhouses of the Cape Ann League. Newburyport, Pentucket, Masco, Lynnfield, Amesbury, rival Hamilton Wenham, as well as Whitter in the Commonwealth league will all be previous tournament teams Ipswich will face this year. As we take a look into the 2018-19 season Ipswich has a full schedule of toss up games. If they come to play they can do very well and put Ipswich Boys Basketball back into the state tournament for the first time in three years.

The boys will have to compete every game, but with six returning seniors the team should be ready. Benjamin Yanakakis and Jason Finkst will be third year retuners and looking to lead the team on the court with their point guard skills and shooting. Yanakakis believes that, “By just being the same type of leader and not making the same mistakes, just proving I belong as a leader and holding myself to a higher standard as well as my teammates,” is the best way he believes he can help lead the team this season.  

Jack Norris should bring his strong ball handling and passing skills to help him out with his role of being the floor general. Jacob Eliopoulos should also be a very helpful point guard from this years senior class. Jacob will look to help the team with his defense, a high basketball IQ and his gritty hustle. Dan Stedman will also look to help with his gritty defense and hustle on the court while grabbing up the majority of the team’s rebounds. Isaiah Morrissey will also be returning this season. He started towards the second half of the season and made a huge impact right away. Morrissey is excited for this season telling me that “Honestly just playing, getting back out there and playing some basketball is what I am most excited for.” When talking with Alan Laroche about coming back as the head coach for his 11th season, he praised the returners saying, “Many of the returners gained good experience last year which should translate into better results this season. We are bringing back good defense that will be a great foundation for the start of the start of the season.” The team will not only have a strong senior class returning but also many underclassmen coming up from the Junior Varsity team to help contribute to the strong defense and sharp shooting offense.

When sitting down with Yanakais, a returning starter, about the team’s goals for the upcoming season, he replied confidently, “I think our first goal should be to have a winning record because we haven’t done that in my three years of being on varsity. I would say our second goal is probably making the playoffs; we are definitely capable of that and I honestly think we are capable of winning a Cape Ann League title”.

Morrissey had pretty much the same goals saying, “Like everyone else making playoffs, I don’t want to look above that because you don’t want to think about something that you have never been to before.  I just want to get there and go on from there.” Laroche believes that if the team “Competes at the highest level possible each game, then that will bring them back to the postseason.”

Every team in the Cape Ann League is very similar to each other making the league very difficult and exciting. Coach Laroche said it best, “If you are a basketball fan then each game will have its moments and excitements. Games against the Cape Ann League small teams always have a little more at stake which adds to the excitement.” The fans and students of Ipswich High School Basketball should be witnessing a lot of nail-biting games with you sitting on the edge of your seat. Ipswich will play seven teams in this upcoming season who had made the state tournament the previous year. Ipswich may be facing a lot of good teams this year but the players feel that they are ready.

Rivalries in the Cape Ann League with Ipswich such as Newburyport, Rockport, and Georgetown should all bring a little more excitement to the court, but none of those teams compare to Ipswich’s long-lasting fight with Hamilton-Wenham. In the recent years, Hamilton- Wenham has run the Cape Ann Basketball League and beaten Ipswich in the last ten meetings. Yanakakis feels confident that this year will be different, saying, “Yes, definitely,” to beating Hamilton-Wenham this year. With Hamilton losing nine seniors, Ipswich will look to take advantage and win the two games against Hamilton this year. Ipswich will also face off against Georgetown and Rockport twice this season. Georgetown and Rockport will look to get revenge on losses to Ipswich the previous season. Ipswich will also face off against Amesbury and Manchester-Essex twice this year one home and one away, with Newburyport, Triton, and Masco away. Ipswich will battle at home against North Reading, Pentucket and Lynnfield. Lynnfield, the usual Cape Ann League Large winner, should fall short this year from their previous years of first to Newburyport who most likely have the strongest team.  

Every game Ipswich is going to have to come to play and work as hard as they can. With such a strong senior class and three returning starters, supporters believe that this year will be the team to get Ipswich back into the state tournament. This senior class isn’t rattled by high expectations. These athletes have performed well and succeed on the soccer field, football field and lacrosse field, so they should be ready for the pressure. The student-athletes look to use their athletic abilities and sport mentalities from one sport and apply it to the other. Fans and spectators should be ready for this year’s Ipswich Boys Basketball team aggressive defensive, sharp shooting and chemistry to rip through the Cape Ann League and into the tournament. Keep your eyes and ears open because this year Ipswich Boys Basketball is going make some noise.  

Senior Ben Yanakakis looks to help lead his team back to the state tournament