The year after head coach Paul Connolly and the Newton North Tigers successfully defended their Division 1 state championship in 2006, Tommy Mobley joined the school’s basketball program in 2007. Mobley, a junior guard currently second in Eastern Mass. in scoring at 24.6 points per game, was a water boy for Connolly’s team.
“The best part about being the water boy was I got to go to every practice and see all the guys play and shoot on the side,” recalls Mobley. “At halftime during games I got to shoot, it was so much fun. As a sixth-grader I used to sit in class all day on Fridays, not being able to wait for the Friday night game. I would even get nervous sometimes before big games.”
While being a water boy for the squad, Mobley had a front-row seat to watch his older brother, Greg Kelley, lead the Tigers. Kelley is now junior forward on the Yale team that upsetHarvard on Saturday. The two brothers’ parents, Greg Mobley and Page Kelley, wanted to split up their last names.
“Me, my brother and my father went out to a gym to shoot for a couple hours over winter break and at the end we had a 3-point shooting competition,” Mobley said. “We all shot 100 threes and my father tied me at 65 and then he beat me in a playoff to 10 shots. My dad was laughing, saying, ‘you guys have been so successful, but I’m still a better shooter than you two.’ ”
Mobley has certainly been successful since being on Connolly’s actual roster his freshman season two years ago. A kid who started off as just a shooter, Mobley has morphed into one of the best all-around scorers in the state.
“He’s done a great job of working on his mid-range game.” Connolly said. “Because he can shoot it so deep, teams force him to put the ball on the floor and he’s developed that part of his game. He can get to the rim and he can pull up and shoot. He’s doing a great job reading screens and using screens.”
The Tigers are 15-1 this season and have been ranked No. 4 in the Globe Top 20 since Jan. 26. After joining Newton North the year following the school’s last state title, Mobley thinks his team has a good shot to claim the crown once again before he leaves.
Alongside senior captains Liam Bruno and Jack Boucher, the Tigers have an experienced team that can compete into March.
“I think that’s in our goals everyday,” he said. “The crazy thing about those two teams is that they were so deep. Those two years created a really strong basketball culture. We may be there this season — we’ve had a great start.”
Even as the face of the team, Mobley hasn’t forgotten his roots. He takes pride in the fact he was a water boy so many years ago and does his due diligence interacting with his team’s current assistants. Mobley has developed an especially tight bond with Ryan Gallagher, a special needs student who helps out with the team.
“I’m a little bit critical of him,” Mobley joked of his relationship with Gallagher. “Sometimes I’ll yell at him because he forgets to bring me water. Being the water boy was a fun experience. The water boys now are awesome.”
The start of the February vacation always means quality local tournaments and there are plenty next weekend.
The Fourth annual IAABO Board 130 Classic will be held Feb. 16-17 at St. John’s Prep. In Sunday’s boys’ games, Andover will face Everett at 5:30 p.m., followed by Lynn English playing the host Eagles. The boys’ consolation is Monday at 3:45 p.m., with the boys’ title game at 7:15.
The annual Comcast Tournament at Babson College will be held next Sunday. Newton North will take on Brookline and Belmont will face Franklin.Jake Fischer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @GlobeFischer.