By: Abigail DesVergnes
Walking into the first high school basketball game of the season, you will smell the freshly stained and polished gym floor, hear the sounds of squeaking Nike shoes, feel the vibrations of fans cheering, and see the colors of your hometown teams.
In the stands you will see the faces of those of the past, present, and future – alumni, current students, and young ones – who dream that one day they will land a spot on the varsity basketball team.
On the court you will see the faces of underclassmen basketball players, looking forward to a season filled with success and the hope to improve within the next few years. And you will see the faces of upperclassman, still holding on to their last season and awaiting their college future.
Attleboro High School and many teams across the Hockomock League Tuesday night shared those common feelings of nostalgia, hope and pride with the start of the season.
Attleboro senior and varsity captain Andrew Milliken jogged out onto the court at the start of the Attleboro vs. Canton home opener, high-fiving his teammates and coaches and hoping to defeat Canton, but beneath his excitement was a mix of emotions. For Milliken, being a senior is “bittersweet,” as he is excited for the rest of the season but sad playing his last opening high school game.
“It’s been a long ride. My team and I have put in a lot of hard work – from pre-season, tryouts and practice. I know and hope that for the rest of the season, we perform and implement all that we’ve been working toward on the court,” Milliken said before the game.
For Attleboro senior varsity captain, Jake Dunkley it’s not just about what happens on the court, but off the court as well. “As a team, we grow and learn both on and off the court. Not only are we training to be better basketball players, but better people as well.”
It’s this type of mentality that creates community camaraderie. It’s why elementary and middle school basketball players look up to the varsity team – hoping that one day they’ll be just like them.
Attleboro resident and Coelho Middle School basketball player, Kaden Davenport, 12, said that after watching Attleboro defeat Canton 62-53, it made him realize how hard he wants to practice day so that one day he can make the team.
And although the varsity players on both teams were the definite stars of the show, the cheerleaders and the student section played a big part in motivating their team.
Attleboro students decided to have a white-out which was coordinated by a group of students called “the pound” via Twitter. AHS senior and pound member Andrew Gingras said: “It’s our job as fans to get our players pumped up and motivated. I think that our energy helps them perform at a higher intensity.”
This motivation and energy emanating from the crowd may just be why AHS sophomore Domonick Victor was able to hit a second-quarter slam dunk.
But like anything, making a slam dunk doesn’t happen because of luck; it takes practice. Just ask Attleboro freshman Bryant Ciccio who trained all summer to land a spot on the varsity team. Just a year ago, Ciccio was a wide-eyed middle schooler who dreamed about playing, and now he is a key player on the varsity team as a freshman.
“It is a great opportunity to play up at the varsity level and I worked very hard for it,” Ciccio said. “I am looking forward to a great season ahead of us.”