By Greg Phipps
The Peabody High School boys’ basketball team is facing a major challenge entering 2018-19 but it is one they are looking forward to, according the head coach Thad Broughton. The Tanners graduated seven seniors, including four starters, from last year’s team that finished 12-9 and lost to Lynn English in the first round of the playoffs.
“We have a lot of new players this year,” admitted Broughton, who added that the team’s aggressive, high-energy philosophy on both sides of the ball won’t change much. “Our style of play will be similar to last year in terms of our core concepts. We’ll try to win games by playing solid defense and an up-tempo style on the offensive end. We try to give players the freedom to make plays and rely on their instincts.”
Pointing out that the players are working hard to pick up the system, Broughton said the team’s practices are intense in order to prepare for a rigorous schedule in the Northeastern Conference (NEC). “Our league is challenging, so we will need to do the little things to get wins. We’ll need to execute and pay attention to detail,” he said. “Every day, we preach the importance of sustaining our work ethic, togetherness and energy so we can weather the ups and downs of a long season. Our mission is to compete for the full 32 minutes and leave it all on the floor.”
Broughton acknowledged the Tanners’ yearly goal is to make the postseason with the ultimate objective being a state title. He said he expects his squad to be challenged every night it steps on the court.
“This season we hope our commitment to defense is one of our strengths,” he said. “We’ve been working hard in practice, and we’re ready to transition that effort into the games. Offensively, we want to fast break whenever we can and run at every opportunity.”
Among the experienced players the Tanners will rely on in 2018-19 are seniors Chris Canela, who led the team in scoring last year and is expected to have another strong season, and Joe O’Neill, who played well down the stretch last winter and will be counted on to be a major contributor, according to the coach. Returning from injury-plagued seasons are senior Mike Tansey and Tyler Callahan. Tansey missed two-thirds of last year and is a solid athlete who can rebound and block shots. Callahan also missed a good portion of last season and is good around the basket both as a rebounder and defender, Broughton pointed out.
Also expected to have an impact, according to Broughton, are junior forward Alex Jean and senior guard Pat Rigol. Jean played both varsity and junior varsity last year and continued to improve throughout the season. Rigol provided quality minutes off the bench last season and is an accurate outside shooter.
Peabody opens its season this Friday at Revere.