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Junior captain Jack Naccarato and the Westbrook boys’ basketball squad picked up victories against Portland and Hale-Ray last week to climb within one win of qualifying for the Class S State Tournament. Naccarato scored 72 points between the two victories. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
Sophomore Jesse Whitney and the Knights moved to 7-9 with a pair of wins last week. (File photo by Kelley Fryer/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Westbrook boys’ basketball team has started to put it together in the home stretch of the regular season. Last week, the Knights had two games on the schedule and secured wins in both contests against Shoreline Conference opponents. Westbrook earned a 73-64 victory against Portland and also defeated Hale-Ray by a score of 65-59.
The Knights have won three of their last four games to improve to 7-9 on the season. So, with four games left to go on the slate, Westbrook needs just one more victory to qualify for the Division V State Tournament.
Head Coach Jeff Beeman was happy to see his team win a couple of big games when it needed to.
“That was extremely helpful for the hunt to get to the Shoreline Tournament and States,” said Coach Beeman. “It put us moving in the right direction, which is big for us and our chances.”
Westbrook opened up the week with 73-64 win in a road contest against Portland on Feb. 11. The Knights posted an early 17-12 advantage after the first quarter, but Portland fought back to make it a two point game by the half. Westbrook led 28-26 heading into the third quarter, and the Knights were able to stretch it a bit to 49-45 before the final quarter. In the fourth, Westbrook outscored the Highlanders 24-19 to move onto the nine-point victory.
Coach Beeman felt like his team really showed something in that win, and it was especially impressive in a hostile locale.
“That was a good one for us. We historically don’t play very well at Portland,” Beeman said. “They had beaten us once at our place, so we just got there and tried to do our best. We were ahead by two at halftime, and overall we played pretty well.”
Recently named junior captain Jack Naccarato had a gigantic game for the Knights scoring 40 points while also hauling in 17 rebounds, and dishing six assists in the victory.
“Jack Naccarato has been our team’s highest scorer all year. He had a phenomenal second half for us against Portland,” Beeman said. “He scored 40 points in that game and a lot of it came in that second half, and he was 13 of 15 from the foul line. He was a driving force for us that game.”
Other contributors to the Portland win included sophomore Joey Caslin with 13 points and freshman Brandon Naccarato, who scored 10 points. Sophomore Sammy Freeman and junior Brenden Engels scored seven and three points, respectively.
Caslin’s solid game against Portland was another notch in a long line of winning performances from the sophomore. Coach Beeman believes that Caslin brings more than just a physical skillset to bear for the Knights.
“Joey has probably got the best basketball IQ on the team. He understands the game, the time, and the score in every situation,” said Beeman. “He shoots when he’s open and drives when he’s capable. He’s also our primary ball handler. I know that 7-9 is no great shakes, but we’re definitely not there without him. He’s carried us at different times.”
Brandon Naccarato also had steady game for Westbrook, and Coach Beeman has been impressed with the freshman when called upon this year.
“We’re still having him play some JV so he’s always getting court time. As a freshman, he’s still a little small physically against seniors, but that will come,” said Beeman. “He’s worked on his confidence, and he’s a good shooter. He handles the ball well for us when asked. He shoots and drives the ball well, too.”
Later in the week, Westbrook earned a 65-59 home victory over Hale-Ray. The Knights fell behind early with Hale-Ray leading 19-13, but Westbrook turned it around in the second to take a 34-32 lead at the half. The score was tied 46-46 by the end of the third quarter, and then Westbrook surged ahead with a 19-13 final frame.
This marked another win in a conference game, which is all-important in terms of the Knights’ hopes for Shorelines. Coach Beeman thought his team’s performance slid a bit from where it was against Portland, but he was impressed that the Knights still found a way to win.
“We didn’t shoot quite as well as a team, as we did in Portland. There we shot 52 percent, and against Hale-Ray we shot 40 percent. We also shot 33 percent at the three point line,” said Beeman. “Our effective field goal percentage was 45 percent, so that’s still good. We’re having a good little stretch here.”
Jack Naccarato poured it in again with 32 points against the Noises. His performance all season has been impressive, but this week put him over the top for the Knights’ vacant captain position. Naccarato was named team captain by Coach Beeman and his staff. Because the team consists of mostly younger players, Coach Beeman and his staff decided to go without a captain until someone made it clear the job belonged to him.
“We were waiting for someone to rise to the top, and even though we’re sixteen games into the season, Jack’s our captain for the remainder of the year,” said Coach Beeman. “The kids were excited about it, and I know Jack was, too. It’s an honor.”
The Knights saw some points from others including Engels (12), Freeman (7), Jesse Whitney (5), Caslin (5), Luca Troop (2), and Brandon Naccarato (2).
Now, Coach Beeman and his squad are hunting for that elusive eighth win, but they don’t want to settle for just one win in four chances.
“We need one more win for states, and we have two non-league games and two league games. If we get one of those league games, we can make the Shoreline Tournament,” Beeman said. “We should be able to get one to make states, but no one wants to go into the tournament 8-12. We know every game is winnable if we play good, sound basketball and perform. We’ll see. This is what makes high school sports exciting.”
• The Westbrook boys’ basketball team’s roster features senior Joshua Maura; junior captain Jack Naccarato; juniors Brenden Engels, Cameron Neely, Nicholas Palumbo, Daniel Ruppernicker, Luca Troop, and Zachary Zanzalari; sophomores Joey Caslin, Kyle Czenthe, Samuel Freeman, Evan McIntyre, Jesse Whitney, Justin Whitney, and David Willis; and freshmen Enzo Adorno, Lucas Bennett, Jonathan Brajczewski, Ryan Engels, James Grace, Grant Libeson, Brandon Naccarato, Vincent Naccarato, Jacob Perreault, Tyler Prisley, Michael Sharpe, and Michael Von Ehr.
• Head Coach Jeff Beeman’s coaching staff includes assistant coaches Brett Cavilieri, Torin Wood, and Dan Shapiro.
• For the remainder of the regular season, the Knights play at home versus Wilcox Tech and East Hampton and will also face Whitney Tech and Haddam-Killingworth on the road.
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