Ben Rice is following in his brothers’ and father’s footsteps in taking the court for Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ basketball.
Then there was one.
After dumping in a team-high 13 points in two-plus quarters, helping the Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ basketball team build a 40-point lead over Pembroke, Ben Rice’s work was done for the night. His older brother Tyler was seated in the top row to watch him.
“I definitely wanted to play good in front of him,” said Ben, a 6-foot-7 swingman and senior captain for the Panthers.
Meanwhile, a few miles away in Quincy, their older brother Josh was on his way to a 17-point performance, while connecting on five 3-pointers, pushing Eastern Nazarene College past Becker College.
Basketball is a passion for the Rices, who have been penned on W-H’s varsity roster for parts of seven straight seasons.
Ben has been in the starting lineup since last year. Josh, who scored his 1,000th career point at ENC in November, was also a two-year starter for W-H before graduating in 2016. Tyler, who graduated in 2018, started his senior season. All have contributed significantly.
Ben tossed in 11.6 points per game and was tabbed a league all-star last winter as the Panthers reached the Division 2 South semifinals. Josh played a major role (14.3 PPG) in the program claiming its first-ever Division 2 South Sectional title and trip to TD Garden his senior year. Tyler helped the program to a pair of Patriot League Kennan Division titles.
“I’ve never had anything like that since I’ve been here,” said 20-year W-H boys’ basketball head coach Bob Rodgers. “I’ve never seen anything like that — in basketball — anyway. In basketball, I would say the Rice family stands apart.”
It began in the driveway.
“I still remember how intense our two-on-two games would be,” Josh said. “Me and my brother Tyler would be on the same team and my dad (Jon) and my brother Ben would be on the same team. I think that made us all a lot better and grew us closer.
“It was cool growing up with two brothers who really were interested in the same things you were interested in. That helped all of us get better.”
Their father Jon, a 1986 W-H graduate, also played basketball for the Panthers and then at ENC.
“It’s been incredibly remarkable watching them play, especially at my alma mater,” Jon said. “It’s been an incredible investment, but everything we’ve put into it we’ve got back tenfold.”
A prime example was when Josh and Tyler shared the Garden parquet in 2016.
“That was really cool — something I’ll never forget,” Jon said.
As Ben enters the last few months of his senior season, he has his eyes fixated on the prize, just like his brothers did.
“We obviously want to win every time out,” said Ben, who is coming off a 30-point outburst against Hanover on Tuesday, Jan. 21. “We’d love a league championship and to go far in the state tournament.”
As for Jon, it will be a little strange not writing in a full W-H basketball schedule on the calendar next winter.
“Who knows what I’ll be doing this time next year?” joked Jon.