Windham Tech hopes to return to state tourney this year
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Willimantic - posted Mon., Dec. 10, 2012
The Windham Tech boys’ basketball team struggled during the 2011-12 season. After many years of playing in the state tournament, the team’s 5-15 record meant the Mighty Tigers didn’t qualify for post-season play last year. “We lost a lot of kids to transfers and graduation, so it kind of hurt us last year,” said assistant coach Bill O’Connor, as the Mighty Tigers prepared for a scrimmage against Tourtellotte on Dec. 7.
But it’s a new season, and the Windham Tech team appears to be in much better shape for 2012-13. “I feel that we have a much better team. A lot of returning kids, so I think they know the style of basketball we want to play,” said O’Connor. During the team’s first scrimmage of the season, against Plainfield on Dec. 4, O'Connor said, “We saw a lot of improvement from last year, and as is the case for every scrimmage, a lot of things they need to work on.”
Asked about the team’s strengths, head coach Jeff Belanger said, “We’ve got pretty good depth in the guard position.” Noting that the players are on the smaller side, he said, “We’re going to use our speed to our advantage.”
With four returning experienced varsity players and a number of younger first-year varsity players, the focus for the early part of the season would be on giving the younger players more experience on the court. “What we’re looking for is we’re trying to get our bench to learn court press,” said Belanger of their goal during the team's three remaining scrimmages. “We’re still learning to gel and communicate. It’s all about getting our young guys ready to play.” Asked what the key might be to regaining a spot in the post-season tourney Belanger said, “Us developing some depth, so we’re able to run our full-court defense.”
Among the more experienced players this year are four out of the five seniors on the team. Brandon Martingano was a member of the CSC All-Star East second team last year and is expected to be a top scorer this year. Danny Gutierrez is a shooting guard who will step in as point guard. Chris Jenco is a forward with lots of speed. Jovany Velez is the team’s center. Senior Darvin Gonzalez is a first-year varsity guard moving up from JV this year.
Belanger said he expects the scoring to be spread out among his players. “I don’t expect anybody to be averaging over 20,” he said. Among the less-experienced players expected to rack up points are sophomores Damon Vega, a forward with plenty of speed and tenacity, and Aviel Rosado, a guard.