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The Yankee Express

Uxbridge boys look for consistency—and wins

The Uxbridge High boys basketball team; and some recent game action (photos submitted by Coach Hippert).


It wasn’t a bad season, but it was one in which the Uxbridge boys basketball team wished could have gone better. The Spartans finished the regular season just above .500 with a 10-9 record, earning themselves a spot in the Division 4 State Tournament. Uxbridge took out Bay Path (58-37) in the opening round but was sent home after a loss to Burke 65-46. 
Coach Ryan Hippert and his Spartan squad are looking for better results this winter, especially when it comes to the tournament.
“We have a tougher schedule hoping that it will prepare us for the long run. Playing those type of teams during the regular season gets you ready for the tournament, but you still need the wins,” the Uxbridge coach said. “With the new ranking system to get into the tournament you want to play tougher teams, but we also want to qualify for the Clark Tournament; 40 teams can apply but only 16 make the cut.”
Uxbridge has a lot of athletes returning from last year’s team and according to the coach, they had a good summer preparing for this year’s season.  At the time of this writing the Spartans were once again hovering just above .500, having played some strong teams in an up and down season. Hippert was confident that his hard-working team would be back on track for the remainder of the season.
Senior co-captains—shooting guard Drew Gniadek and point guard Troy Spencer—will be the guiding force for a Spartan team that wants to succeed. After averaging about 12 points a game last season, Gniadek, who has been on the team since his sophomore campaign, has raised his scoring to 18 points per contest thus far this year. 
“We’re still looking for another scorer to step up and compliment Drew,” Hippert said. “Scoring, which is our biggest problem. We’ve had guys step up here and there but are looking for consistency game in and game out.”
Another point guard, junior Kellen LaChapelle, is not one who will load up on the offensive stats but is one of the team’s unsung heroes. The junior is a great defender who does a lot of the dirty work for the Spartans and his hustle and effort are among the tops on the team.  Junior Ethan McCusker finds himself in the same unsung hero category as LaChapelle. The 6’3” center, who has been with the team since his freshman year, is not only a great shooter but he is also a great shot blocker and has a lot of potential.
The fifth starter is of rotating value. Hippert has three athletes that he can start depending on the opposition and the situational game plan. Finding time in that fifth spot have been junior Andrew Blood, sophomore Colin Spencer and senior Jack Trask. Hippert has said he will continue to change the lineup around, looking to see what works.
Blood is a football player who works hard and plays tough like a forward, while Trask is a big kid (6’3” 270 lbs.) and at times is the most dominate payer on the court. Only a sophomore, Spencer had a 21-point performance, where he knocked down 6 3’s, earlier in the season. He has shown flashes, but currently finds himself on the bench due to an injury.
Senior Dan Doherty will see some action for Uxbridge on the court as a role player. He is a solid defender who puts in the work and although he didn’t see a lot of minutes last year he may get the opportunity this season.
During the Milford Holiday Tournament the Spartans had a good performance in the first round and with their win went up against the host, a Division 1 team, for the championship. Although the Spartans were able to stay close during the first half, Milford eventually wore them down. Despite the loss, Hippert liked what he saw in his team as it went up against a team from an upper division.
As is the case year after year, Hippert is hoping that his squad can qualify for the State as well as the Clark Tournament in addition to capturing the SWCL B league Title.
“Our schedule has been tough so far, but we knew coming into the season that it was going to be,” the coach said. “Right now, we are far from our goals, but we have plenty of games still ahead of us to make things right.”