Courtesy of Jabari Nurse
After graduating nine seniors from the team, the Wayland boys varsity basketball team hoped to rebuild their program and prove they can go far in their season. At the Barry Hutchinson Memorial Holiday Tournament on Dec. 28, they did just that.
After defeating Bellingham and Hopedale, who both came into the tournament undefeated, the boys successfully dominated the tournament and came home with a giant trophy and stirring pride.
“We came into the tournament wanting revenge because last year we had lost to Hopedale, and they had beat us for a couple years in a row now,” sophomore Jabari Nurse said. Nurse was named to the All-Tournament Team. “We wanted to try to make noise and put Wayland back on the map for basketball.”
Their first game was a tough matchup against Hopedale, a team that came into the tournament undefeated and hungry for a win. After four quarters of battle for the lead, Wayland came out on top with a final score of 64-63. Junior captain Jaden Brewington was a key member to the win, as he finished the game with 23 points and was named MVP of the tournament.
“It came down to my teammates,” Brewington said. “They did a really good job with setting screens, passing it to me when I was open and things like that. As a captain, I try to tell [my team] that I believe we can go really far, we just have to take it day-by-day.”
Not only did the team battle with undefeated Hopedale, but their final game brought another tough face-off against the host team Bellingham, which came into the tournament 5-0. The team prepared extensively in order to meet the level of these undefeated teams.
“[Before the tournament], we focused a lot on rebounding and things that have killed us in the past,” Brewington said. “We came off a stretch of just winning against Waltham, but we almost lost to them because we weren’t rebounding and doing the little things that were important, so [head] coach [Dennis] Doherty focused on that.”
The team has been in the Barry Hutchinson Memorial Holiday Tournament for three consecutive seasons but has not been very successful in the past. This year, they worked hard to come home as champions of the tournament. Intense focus and preparation were essential for Wayland to come into the tournament with confidence.
“We all stay locked in during practices,” junior captain Jack Melvin said. “Coach Doherty led us really well, and we were all mentally focused and prepared.”
Because of their lack of success in the tournament in the past, other teams seemed to not be prepared for Wayland to come out as strongly as they did. The boys brought their best game, and their performance allowed them to realize their potential as their season continues.
“It meant a lot to win,” Melvin said. “We have always been viewed as the worst team in that tournament, but this year we changed that and were able to bring the trophy home.”