The boys’ basketball team finished the season on a 35-game winning streak.
It didn’t take long for Whitman-Hanson Regional High boys’ basketball head coach Bob Rodgers to realize his team could make some noise again this season.
“I would say probably the first practice that we had together as a team after we had made our cuts and we had formulated a team — I just saw that all of the players were so focused on trying to keep the Whitman-Hanson tradition going,” said Rodgers, who wrapped up his 21st year on the W-H bench.
A 79-50 season-opening victory over Silver Lake only reaffirmed his thinking.
“After the first win, which was a very convincing win, I kind of said to myself, ‘We probably have something pretty good going here,’” Rodgers recalled.
He sure did. The Panthers went on to finish the season 12-0, capture the Patriot League Keenan Division crown for the second straight year and claim the first-ever Patriot Cup.
Senior captains Nate Amado and Cole LeVangie, the lone returning starters from the state title team, set the tone from the start for the Panthers.
Amado was named the Patriot League Keenan Division MVP after he poured in 24.2 ppg, shot 46 percent from 3-point range and grabbed 9.3 rpg. LeVangie scored 13.6 ppg, snagged 9.1 rpg and dished out 8.3 apg en route to being tabbed a league all-star.
“Being the leaders that they are, you could see them kind of take these younger players under their wing, in terms of the right way to practice and approach a game,” Rodgers said. “They’re two of the best to ever play at Whitman-Hanson.”
Junior guards Ryan Vallancourt and Amari Jamison were also named league all-stars after emerging as key contributors for W-H. Vallancourt, who started at point guard, netted 16 points in a comeback win against Hingham in the Patriot Cup title game.
“He’s a phenomenal leader,” Rodgers said of Vallancourt. “At practice, he’s like another coach, in terms of giving players reminders on the way to do things. He emerged as a terrific shooter.”
Jamison spread 52 points over three games in the Patriot Cup, including a 26-point outburst against North Quincy.
“We always knew that Amari was going to be athletic and we knew that as he improved his ball-handling skills he’d become more difficult to guard,” Rodgers said. “The sky’s the limit for Amari.”
Rodgers said the biggest challenge this season was just the uncertainty from day to day.
“You didn’t know if a player was going to be quarantined because they were a close contact or if somebody was going to get COVID,” Rodgers said. “We had two players get COVID and another that was a close contact. We had some of our opponents ready to play a game and then the next thing you know the game is canceled because they are shut down because of COVID. But I am proud of how everybody dealt with what we were faced with and made the best of it.”
W-H heads into the offseason the owner of the state’s longest winning streak at 35 games.
“Our guys need to recognize that this offseason is crucial for them,” Rodgers said “I’m not going to be taking attendance of what they do this offseason. I’m not going to their workouts, it’s up to them. Do they want this? Do they love this? Do they want to be part of something special?
“My hope is that we’ll continue to play Whitman-Hanson-style basketball. We’ve been good for a long time.”