NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

December 12, 2012

Leaders on the hardwood

Vikings look to build on 5-15 season

BYFIELD — In his second year as the Triton boys basketball head coach, Dave Clay wants to bounce back from last year’s 5-15 record, and he thinks he’s found the three players to do so.

Senior co-captains Zakariya Alaoui, Paul Dacy and Sam McKenzie gave themselves a couple of weeks off after the end of last season, then got after it in a big way.

“I challenged the whole program at the end of the season that they really needed to dedicate themselves to the game,” said Clay. “And I knew these guys would be the ones leading the pack. They’ve been playing for the past three years and they didn’t get the playing time they deserved last year. That was mostly due to my fault, but they stuck with it, they were persistent and I think it’s going to pay off.”

“We had 10 seniors on the team last year,” said Clay. “So they knew that the off-season commitment was huge, and in order to get the experience playing, they had to play a lot.”

The Vikings’ captains hit the gym every morning at 6, attended the Rising Star summer basketball camp in Melrose and played over 50 games in two summer leagues: the Manchester Athlete Club outdoor league and the Tri-State summer league out of Sanborn, N.H.

“All three of us started as soon as the season ended (and) we definitely learned that if you keep playing every day, you’re going to get better,” said Alaoui, a shooting guard. “We used last year as motivation because it did stink for most of us not being able to play. But we used that to push us hard into that offseason.”

Clay says the three captains earned their teammates’ trust through hard work. After being elected captains, they have raised the intensity level for the younger players.

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