Charlestown looks ready to rebound from last season

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. – Step outside of Charlestown High School and you find you’re in a place with some noteworthy sites.  In one direction is the Bunker Hill Monument, in another you can see the Tobin Bridge that connects Chelsea and Boston.  In another direction is the Schrafft’s building, which can easily be seen from the nearby highway, and a major Hood plant is just around the corner.

The school itself has some history on the hardwood over the past couple of decades, as it has been a powerhouse in the city.  Last year was not one of those years, but Edson Cardoso’s team is planning to make that an aberration.  The Townies have a good deal of talent and the veterans know why last season’s team, inexperienced though it was, disappointed with a 6-14 mark.  They are primed to turn that around with a much more experienced group.

Certainly, if Freddy Oliveira (6’5″ Sr. SF-PF) plays like he did for much of Sunday, that will go a long way towards changing the results.  Oliveira has always had the talent but lacked the consistency of effort, as he can look like a Division I prospect one game and then be on a milk carton the next time around.  On Sunday, the lefty really got after it, showing all the tools he has and being a warrior inside.  Besides his rebounding and post scoring ability, he can face up, pass and drive for the occasional layup.

The primary leader of this team will likely be Taris Wilson (6’3″ Sr. SG), who led the Boston City League in scoring last season.  Wilson wasn’t 100 percent on Sunday, so he definitely looked off, but he’s a well-built athlete who is more of a scorer than a shooter.  Talk to him and you can tell he understands what happened last year and what needs to happen this year for the team to succeed, and Cardoso said he’s seen all the leadership signs from Wilson he has hoped to thus far.

Oliver Benner (6’4″ Sr. SG-SF) transferred from BC High and will give the team a nice veteran complement.  The lanky wing has a good body and impressed on Sunday as he can shoot, but does more than that.  He battled the entire time and got a couple of stickbacks, and attacked to get chances in close as well.  Malik Smith (6’3″ Sr. SG) has a good body and hit a few mid-range jumpers off the catch, although his jumper is almost a set shot.  Maxwell Spinola (6’2″ Sr. SG-SF) isn’t very athletic and doesn’t get up much on his jumper but will be in the mix on the wing, as will Jimmy Edwards (6’1″ Sr. SG), who has a good body and showed some ball toughness on one drive to the basket.  Ryan Gunter (6’1″ Sr. SG) is the other senior on the team and was not at Sunday’s workout.

Among the six juniors, the one who may be primed for a big year is Jeffrey Ramos (6’2″ Jr. PG-SG).  A slight guard and a baby physically, Ramos drove often to create opportunities and one time made a nice bounce pass past a defender for a layup.  He also got a stickback, and hasn’t had much buzz but may be ready to break out.

Chris Conway (6’3″ Jr. SF-PF) has a good frame and is strong inside, too strong for many others on this team as he showed at times on Sunday.  The lefty struggled to finish on the day but did just that after a nice cut to the hoop one time, and he figures to be a key player in the frontcourt.

The rest of the juniors figure to play on the perimeter.  Charles Washington (6’0″ Jr. PG) has a ways to go physically, similar to Warfa Abdullah (6’0″ Jr. PG-SG), while Jerry Joseph (6’1″ Jr. PG-SG) has a good frame and shown promise before.  Tyrik Thompson (5’8″ Jr. PG) is a quick little guard who will also be in the mix for minutes running the show.

The staff has been high on Jovani Harper-Lopez (6’4′ So. SF) since he arrived last year.  He showed some flashes of the potential here, as he has a good frame but a thin upper body.  A plus athlete, he drove the baseline for a layup, finished with the left (off) hand and got a stickback, and while he hit from long range that doesn’t look like his forte.  He’ll be asked to play a bigger role this year.

Keywan Platt (6’3″ So. SG-SF) has a very slight frame but was very active on Sunday.  He is shifty and can finish with contact, and he isn’t afraid of some physical play.  The skill package needs a good deal of development, as he hit a very high-arcing jumper one time and traveled a few other times, but there’s certainly some potential with him.

Gabriel Mordon (5’8″ So. PG), a small point guard with a slight frame, and Anthony Frias (6’0″ So. PG-SG) round out the class.

Two freshmen are also in the program with some promise.  Sergei Tyrell (6’2″ Fr. SG) had a nice drive and reverse layup one time, and his body has a ways to go.  Sahdot Arroyo (6’2″ Fr. SG) is also a baby physically.

Cardoso isn’t straying from how he’s wanted this team to play in the past, which means pressing and trying to push the tempo.  That’s how Jack O’Brien’s teams did it, and the Townies certainly have plenty of guards that would allow them to press, put five new guys in the game and keep that going until bringing five more guys into the game to continue that work.

The Boston City League figures to be a little more up for grabs this season with some teams having key defections.  With a lot of veterans back who are hungry to erase what happened last year, and still a very talented group, Charlestown figures to be in the mix for the City Championship in February.  If Oliveira plays like he did on Saturday, there’s no reason this team can’t also do plenty of damage in March.

(Note: This story originally ran on Hoopville on October 7, 2013, and is reprinted here with permission.)

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