Boys basketball: Belchertown seniors cherishing one last run

  • Belchertown senior guard Carson Boscher, right, is pressed by Elijah Maldonado of Agawam in the first half of the Orioles’ 55-50 loss to the visiting Brownies on Tuesday. Full game coverage and more photos at gazettenet.com/sports. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown seniors Joseph Bianco, top, and Carson Boscher, back to camera, win a rebound from Marcus Wallace, left, of Agawam in the first half of the Orioles' 55-50 loss to the visiting Brownies on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • Belchertown head coach Matt Stenuis takes a timeout with his players in the first half of the Orioles' 55-50 loss to Agawam on Tuesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer 
Published: 1/18/2022 9:31:34 PM
Modified: 1/18/2022 9:30:29 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Every once in a while, a young athlete will come around that you know is going to be someone worth waiting for. If you’re lucky, you’ll get more than one gifted player at a time.

Belchertown boys basketball head coach Matt Stenuis said he won the lottery with his whole senior class this year, knowing that the chemistry and skill that his seniors employ could lead to something special come February and March.

“We have said all along, and even our first year, we were looking at this class. We knew that we saw something special coming, and we knew this was going to be our best team,” Stenuis said.

So far, they’ve lived up to that hype. The Orioles opened the season with a six-game winning streak before dropping their first game of the year to Palmer, a one-point defeat last week. They also fell to a tough Agawam team, 55-50, on Tuesday night. The program’s seven seniors — Joe Bianco, Carson Boscher, Evan White, Nate Sajdak, Nolan Otto, Thomas Vinagre and Kiernan Corish — have played a major part in their success. 

“They're a very tight-knit group. They've played together since, I think, second grade. They all know each other's strengths,” Stenuis said of his seniors. “Chemistry is huge in high school basketball — too many teams, you get one or two stars, and that's it.”

It’s clear watching the seniors on the Orioles that they know where each other are on the court at all times. There’s a synergy to their play that isn’t always present in other schools, especially with teams that are still getting to know each other.

“We have been playing together for really, almost 10 years now. There's not many teams that can say that,” Boscher said. “I've grown up with pretty much every single kid on that bus. I played with (them) for so long, so I know exactly how everybody plays. I can use that to my benefit when I'm around the point guard out there.”

Having played together since such a young age, Belchertown has the advantage of using some of their old tricks, according to Bianco.

“We run some of the same plays we did when we were that age,” Bianco said. “We kind of mastered that craft and I think that chemistry is a very underrated thing in basketball. I think that that's gonna help us in the future and tougher games.”

Growing up with the same kids for so long can make you feel like family, but it can also get grating — like people you’ve grown up with, you can get annoyed or irritated with your siblings at times. Not so for this group of seniors, says both Stenuis and his players. Not only do they have the chemistry together on the court, but they're an incredibly tight-knit group off of it. 

“We hang out, man, almost almost every day. I'm at practice with these guys every day. Even the managers, too, we all hang out with each other,” Boscher said. “We're all friendly with each other, there's no bickering going on. The chemistry is just at an all-time high.”

That’s good news for the Orioles, who want this year’s team to play together for as long as they can. Currently sitting at 6-2, the Orioles are eyeing up a lengthy postseason run in the newly formatted MIAA statewide tournament. Though they’ll rely on their seniors like Boscher, Bianco, White and Sajdak, they’re also blessed to have younger players like juniors Connor White and William Hill, and sophomore Andrew McDonald stepping up on the court, too. They should also get Corish, who went down with an injury early in the season, back before the postseason — he’s a massive cog on the team's defensive end.

While their eyes are focused on a deep run, regardless of how their season ends, seniors on the Belchertown roster are planning on enjoying every second of it.

“I wouldn't trade it for anything. This is one of most special times in my life," Boscher said on his senior class. “I'm definitely gonna miss it when I leave high school. I'm not gonna be able to get on the court with half these guys, so we’ve got to end on a good ride.” 


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