Freshman Basketball Team Celebrates a Record-Breaking Season

Coaches and players reflect on an exhilarating season

Earlier this year the PHS freshman basketball team surprised the school with the strongest performance a PHS freshman basketball team has ever had. They won 23 games and they won the Greater Middlesex Conference!

Michael Jasper is the freshman basketball team’s head coach, who, along with assistant coach Mike Pernell, both strived for this success. They described how this team worked extremely hard all season, but the work began before the season even started and continues even to the offseason.

Coach Jasper explained that “We started practice in November but they’ve been working in the offseason pretty much once basketball season ends. We give a few weeks off and then back in the weight room and back into the grind of things, preparing for next season. We practice after school from two until whenever, basically everyday.”

Jasper felt that as soon as he met the boys, he knew they were going to have a special season.

“A lot of teams have maybe one or two, game-changing players, but I knew with my guys we had not only our starting five, but a couple of guys on the bench who if they were in, they were going to be just as good as the starters and we wouldn’t miss a beat,” said Jasper.

Freshman are young and new to the school, so many wouldn’t expect them to work together as a team so well. However, the team began with a strong chemistry, and it improved from there, as many of the team members have been playing together for years.

Freshman Tyler West talked about their childhood. “Playing with [my teammates] was really fun this season because we’ve all known each other since we were like four. We’ve all been playing together, that’s why we won a lot of games, we have a lot of chemistry.”

Coach Jasper agreed: “I would say the team chemistry helped a lot because I wasn’t starting from scratch when we put the team together. They knew each other, they knew on the court they had good chemistry, they knew where guys were going to be, they knew what kind of shots people were good at and where people’s strengths and weaknesses were.” Coach Jasper felt that although sometimes there are issues with freshmen because of their maturity level, “Sometimes making decisions in the middle of the game is tough but these guys did a good job at slowing the game down, making good choices, and I think they matured as a whole from game one to game twenty-three.”

As the wins piled up, the players not only had to focus on bringing home the wins, but also think about staying humble and keeping the work up.

In Coach Jasper’s opinion, “I thought they did a good job of handling it, obviously you know there are times where people can get a little bit cocky or think they are the best team and start to carry themselves differently, so I wanted to be as transparent as I could with them, and tell them all the concerns and goals and just work as a full unit. If we lose any of these not only do we get a loss, but we don’t get the championship. There was always some pressure, but they stayed hungry and we had good practices, and we just never had a real doubt in our minds, and we were going to make things happen.”

While this was an incredible season, there were difficulties along the way. Not only during the games, but with grades and injuries. As previously mentioned, the team was able to go around these things by having guys coming off the bench who would keep up just as well.

One of the captains, Na Jay Best, agreed and added, “A challenge I think we faced was getting a little too cocky sometimes, but I think we stayed humble for the most part. Other than that, I think we were locked in for the GMC’s.”

As a reminder, these are fourteen and fifteen-year-olds playing multiple games across a few weeks, with the constant pressure of keeping their winning streak up. The game with Franklin High School was the hardest game the team faced, as they started out losing.

“We knew that losing was a possibility, but we just weren’t going to let it happen,” explains Coach Jasper, “There was a point, I think at the end of a quarter where we just kind of had to take a deep breath and say let’s just have fun, just win the game, enjoy the moment, and just whatever happens.” As we know now, they won that game! Tyler West, another captain of the freshman team stated, “When we got to the playoffs we just thought oh well we can’t lose now because then the whole season’s a bust and our undefeated season doesn’t matter.”

Winning the championship left everyone feeling excited.

Coach Jasper said that it “didn’t hit [him] right away” and that he believes this was the first time a PHS basketball team has gone undefeated. A captain of the team, Isaiah Fowler, says that the win felt great and that they “worked hard for [the win] this season. [They] stayed humble, [they] stayed locked in and [they] worked together.”

All these players are just getting started, and are looking forward to future seasons playing basketball. Joshua Lima, the fourth captain of the team, is “excited for next season to see where the coaches place all of [them].”

What are they up to now? Even though their amazing season is over, they still need to keep working hard for their next season. While the next season seems far from now, these players work hard even months in advance.

Isaiah Fowler affirms, “During the offseason, we just gotta put the work in. I’m going to be training with my teammates. We have to train every day, get better every day, and get stronger every day.”