NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Sports

January 24, 2013

Determined to leave a footprint

Michaels and Fontaine hoping to lead Newburyport basketball team to uncharted waters

Newburyport boys basketball senior co-captains Ian Michaels and Colt Fontaine are leading the 8-3 Clippers the best way possible — by example.

Michaels, a two-year starter at guard, averages 11.0 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steal per game. Fontaine, a two-year starter at power forward, averages 9.0 points, 10.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 2.3 steals. But the numbers are not why coach Tom L’Italien chose them to lead his team.

“They both have interesting stories or journeys to get here,” L’Italien said of his captains. “They lead in their own ways, Ian more with his voice, and Colt more with his actions. They both have a great influence on the team.”

Three-sport teammates in football, hoops and baseball, both Michaels and Fontaine came to basketball from different angles.

“Ian, in his sophomore year, really had to learn how to be a good varsity player. He got away with being just a really good athlete up until then,” said L’Italien. “It was a process for him to learn how to compete on an everyday basis. Getting yourself mentally prepared. Because athletically, he could survive out there. And it’s been really nice to see how far he has come.”

Fontaine, L’Italien says, was a little more ambivalent toward basketball.

“He was obviously a good athlete, (but) he liked football and baseball more going into his sophomore year. He’s had a huge, huge impact in the past couple of years,” L’Italien said of Fontaine. “This year, he’s had three games where he had close to 20 rebounds. He’s got a nose for the ball, he’s competitive, he leads by example.”

Born athletes, Michaels and Fontaine have been playing sports together since middle school, and both said the speed of hoops is what attracted them to the court.

“For me it’s the pace of it, the quick decisions,” Michaels said. “I like how it is up and down. I like how you have to make those split-second decisions. I like how it is an athlete’s sport, you’ve got to run.”

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