Brothers team up for Newburyport
Brett Fontaine was not lacking in motivation when the Newburyport boys tapped off against visiting Watertown in the first round of the Division 3 North tourney on Thursday night, a rematch of their sectional final last March.
“Last year’s loss [55-31] was tough to swallow,’’ recalled Fontaine, a senior captain who was the only returning starter for either team. “Once I heard we were playing Watertown this year, all I could think about was letting them knock my team out of the tourney two years in a row.’’
A 6-foot-1-inch guard who led the Clippers in scoring this season (16 points per game), Fontaine took a seat on the bench after rolling his ankle in the third quarter, but contributed 5 points in a 56-42 win.
Newburyport (15-6) will host Arlington Catholic (15-6) in a quarterfinal matchup tonight at 5.
And like he has all season, Fontaine was able to savor the win with his younger brother, Colt, a 6-foot junior guard who averaged 10 points and a team-leading 11 rebounds per game in his first year on the varsity.
“Having the chance to play sports with your brother on the same team is special,’’ said the elder Fontaine. “Most kids don’t get that opportunity.”
Newburyport coach Tom L’Italien said the two have “great chemistry.’’
“Colt is as intense and driven as anyone, and Brett has the poise and maturity to balance that out. The chemistry between them truly speaks a great amount to the work they’ve put in.
“They’re so offensively competitive that sometimes their defensive communication is off. They get on each other enough with just a look, but that rarely happens’’ he said. “It’s not easy when you’re 17 or 18 years old, walking the halls together, living under the same roof together, and starting for a high school basketball team together. But they make it work.’’
The coach said the success of the athletic programs at Newburyport is a component in the Clippers making a tourney run.
“A lot of our kids played on the state championship baseball team, including Brett, who was the starting pitcher,’’ said the coach. “The fact that they’ve grown together and have those experiences under their belt will serve them and our program well in the future.’’
For Masco’s Bramanti, a tough way to finish
Adam Bramanti (inset) was locked in the grasp of Lynn Classical defender Jalen Brown Tuesday in the first round of the Division 2 North tournament in Topsfield, watching the play develop.
Then, his Masconomet Regional teammates set up a triple screen, allowing the 6-foot-1 guard to brush shoulders and take a pass just outside the arc.
The 3 put the Chieftains ahead, 19-16, in the first half.
However, attempting a steal in the third quarter, Bramanti suffered a sprained rotator cuff in another matchup with a Classical player.
“Adam’s not a kid who goes down a lot. So when he did, we all knew it was serious,’’ said Masconomet coach FrankShea.
Averaging 21 points per game, Bramanti was limited to just 13 in a 49-46 loss, clearly impacted by the injury. “I tried to come back in and there were a few plays where my shoulder popped in and out,’’ he said. “It’s never about effort with our team and things just didn’t bounce our way Tuesday night.’’
The last game of his tremendous high school career did not end the way he had envisioned. The all-time leading boys’ scorer (1,298 points) at Masco, Bramanti will continue his career at Stonehill in the fall, on scholarship.
“Adam’s been with us since his freshman year and he’s been the cornerstone of our program ever since,’’ said Shea. “We are happy for him but at the same time, we hate to see him leave.’’
Bramanti credits Shea and his experience at Masco for helping him develop the intangibles essential for him to succeed at the next level. He said he learned about toughness and never giving up.
“Coach gave me a chance as a freshman and I’ve worked hard,’’ said Bramanti. “I’m looking forward to the [college] level of play because every game will be an absolute battle.’’
Shea said Bramanti “always seems to have control of the situation. . . . He was a three-year [league] all-star, and when a guy who’s an all-star shoots less than 20 shots per game, it speaks wonders about his game. He’s been pass-first his whole career, and that’s his strength.”
The experience, said Bramanti, will carry him well beyond college. “Everyone on my team has been my best friend,’’ he said. “Even though one door is closing, it’s really coming with me to the next level because its been my foundation and home for so long, and I can’t wait.’’
Sidelined 15 games with an ankle injury, Central Catholic junior captain Casey McLaughlin made a strong statement in her return on Tuesday, supplying 17 points and 13 rebounds in a 63-57 Division 1 North win over Billerica.
“Missing Casey for that long really hurt us emotionally,” said Central coach Sue Downer. “A lot of the girls, especially the younger ones, look up to her, so she was definitely a huge part of the win against Billerica.’’
In knocking off the 17-4 Indians, Downer said, the team’s ability to score inside with the presence of the 6-foot McLaughlin was key. “She put us over the hump,’’ she said. “We’ve been struggling to get over it all year and our girls have responded to it.’’
With just two seniors on the roster, Downer is leaning on her young squad to show tenacity. “Casey hit some key free throws for us deep in the game,’’ she said. “Our theme for this year was ‘anything is possible.’ And with Casey back and all the youth on our team, we’ll take things one step at a time and see where it takes us.’’
Ryan MacInnis can be reached at email@example.com.