By Dan Guttenplan
---- — WEST NEWBURY — Ed Hickey knew his first season as head coach of the Pentucket boys basketball team would require some patience.
Last year’s team graduated its entire starting lineup after posting a 14-9 record. Hickey arrived at tryouts in November and selected only three seniors on the varsity roster. By comparison, five sophomores made the team.
“It’s a whole new system, and a whole new experience for the players,” Hickey said. “I was looking forward to the challenge, but I new it would be a transition.”
With a 58-57 victory over Greater Lowell Tech last evening, the Sachems improved to 3-7.
Hickey replaced Leo Parent, who built a hard-working program which he helmed for 17 years. Hickey’s experience certainly speaks for itself. He served as a student manager at Ohio State under Randy Ayers for five years, two of which saw the Buckeyes win Big Ten championships.
After graduating from Ohio State in 1995, Hickey worked as an assistant at Gannon College and Stonehill College, coached a freshman team at Silver Lake Regional in Kingston, Mass., became JV coach at Melrose High and was an assistant at Framingham State before taking over at Dedham in 2003.
In eight years at Dedham, Hickey compiled an 86-94 record, winning two Bay State Herget Division titles and the Division 3 South title in 2005, when he was named an Eastern Mass. Coach of the Year.
Hickey relocated to southern New Hampshire last year when his wife took a job as an internist in Exeter, and accepted a position as the chairman of the math department at Pentucket High School. He coached at Phillips Exeter as an assistant last winter, waiting for the opportunity to open at Pentucket.
This season, he installed a motion offense. He tweaked his scheme as recently as last week, making center Jake Bordeionu the centerpiece of his offense.
“I alter the offense to the strength of the kids,” Hickey said. “It took me a little bit to get to know these kids in the program and what they do well. We have a center capable of knocking down some 3-pointers. I put him more in the high post area where he can step out, and it spread the floor a little bit.”
Pentucket must win seven of its last 10 games to earn a repeat trip to the state tournament.
“I’m hoping the players are starting to understand what my expectations are,” Hickey said. “We have a tough road ahead, but I still have hope we can make a run at the tournament. That would be a great accomplishment. For now, we keep getting better every day.”