This spring's award program honored over 25 student-athletes for their athletic excellence.
Varsity Basketball - Boys
Varsity Season Record: 16-10
Captains: Michael Pamer ’17 and Cam Withers ’17
Highlights: Wins against two state regional finalists Warren John F. Kennedy Catholic School and Garfield Garrettsville. Victory over rival Hawken School
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Player: Michael Pamer; Most Improved Player: Cole Howard ‘17; Spirit Award: Samuel McLaughlin ’17.
In Thomas Adams-Wall’s first year as Head Coach for the boys basketball team, the boys finished with a 16-10 record and finished the season ranked #1 for Non-OHSAA schools in the state. He brought a different intensity to the court, both in games and during practices. It was a change for the athletes on the court that knew him, whether as the varsity Assistant Coach the three years prior or even as a dorm head.
“It was definitely an interesting change for [the players],” he said. “I was not the guy they could be buddy-buddy with anymore, and they had to adjust to that. But the relationship that we built together was very strong.”
Adams-Wall brought experience both as a player, having spent a year playing for the College of Wooster’s nationally-ranked team, and as an assistant coach at Wooster his first year out of college.
He applauds his captains, Michael Pamer '17 and Cam Withers '17, for the exceptional job they did in leading the team by example.
For him, a standout game was their road victory against Warren John F. Kennedy Catholic School (who made it to the state regional final); after being down by 11, they came back to beat them by one point in an exciting finish. He also remembers a big victory on Senior Day, beating rival Hawken in front of a large crowd. But what he remembers most is the team spirit and fight in every game. His players showed tremendous athletic versatility and an eagerness to support the team, whether from the bench or on the court.
“All of our student-athletes were great, especially the seniors,” he said. “I could plug them in and they would play to their full potential. They are phenomenal team players. They did not care if they were playing two minutes a game, every minute or if they were on the bench. No matter what, they were still into it and encouraged their teammates.”
Adams-Wall also gives a lot of credit to the community support and ‘Dub Club’ student section. They were consistently loud and rowdy, showing their school spirit.
“We also had the pep band come in and play for a handful of games, and we had choir students and even one of our managers singing the National Anthem — the student support was absolutely awesome,” said Adams-Wall. “I think the team would definitely agree with me and say student support was a big reason for our success this season.”
Withers will be off to continue his academic and basketball career at Bowdoin College, where he will get to face up against former captain and teammate Vince Brookins ‘16 (Williams College) twice a year in the powerful NESCAC conference. Peter Barba ‘15 will be entering his junior season at Columbia University.
Adams-Wall is excited about the steady growth of the JV team throughout the season as well as the incoming freshmen class of student-athletes.
Varsity Season Record: 15–7
Captain: Vincent D. Brookins, Jr. ’16
Highlights: Wajdi Ahemed’s ‘17 making the game-winning shot against Culver Academies, a tough opponent, just as time ran out. When Vince Brookins ’16 scored 26 of his points in the second half of the game against the fiercely competitive Aurora High School. The game against Lutheran East High School, which may have led to a loss in the overtime, but demonstrated how well the team played against top competition. Both teams traded buzzer-victories and big shots to force the extra periods.
Athletic Awards: Most Valuable Player: Vincent D. Brookins Jr. ’16; Most Improved Players: Michael D. Pamer ’17 and Cameron M. Withers ’17; Coaches Award: Ian M. Israelson ’17
You know it’s going to be an incredible season when the first game ends with the game-winning shot at the final buzzer and the home crowd storming the court to celebrate with the team.
It’s no question that the 2015–16 boys basketball team started off strong this year, going undefeated for seven games before their first loss of the season against Walsh Jesuit High School. Although the roster contained what Coach Josh Humphrey ’00 called a “lack of varsity experience,” the team improved considerably by the end of the season, building on their skills and their team confidence with each game.
At the start of the season, the team struggled in a few key areas — communicating on the floor, gaining key rebounds and making free throws. Despite these obstacles, they were a tremendous opponent against district competitors. By the end of the season, they learned to be more focused and together in on-court communication, were able to close-out many games by being more physical, they controlled the rebound and were able to knock down key foul shots to secure wins.
It was, as Humphrey described, a very coachable group, and the student-athletes showed a willingness to listen and learn.
“Our guys played to their individual strengths and relied on team concepts, such as offensively making the extra pass and defensively continuing to force tough possessions,” said Humphrey.
Team captain Vince Brookins ’16 in particular did an exceptional job leading an inexperienced team on and off the court.
“Vince is a natural leader and is one of hardest working players I've ever coached,” said Humphrey. “In his three years with the program, he transformed and improved in many areas of his game every season. This year, he relished the opportunity to lead this young group by doing whatever it took — by being vocal, leading by example and showing how hard and passionate he played and, most importantly, by being coachable and allowing us to be critical when necessary.”
Also of note was Michael Pamer ’17, who tied for third in scoring and first in assists. Although last year he was primarily at JV player, Pamer spent every practice battling and competing against the seniors, which prepared him immensely for his role this year. Pamer proved to be a stable force for the team and was relied upon to take big shots and to make critical decisions with the ball. Three times during the season, he dished out seven assists and in the game against Andrews Osborne Academy, he hit seven three-point shots.
Ian Israelson ’17 brought energy and tenacity on a daily basis. His defense and attentiveness allowed us to play effective team basketball. After suffering a devastating knee injury last season, which would have deterred a lot of players, he still managed to hit timely shots throughout the season and guarded many different positions on the court
Sam McLaughlin ’17 was an asset to the team as a very hard worker and improved significantly over the past year. He dealt with an injury setback during the season, and while this sidelined McLaughlin at a time when he was starting and playing well, he was never discouraged. He continued to just work himself back into game shape and form and became a very instrumental player to the team success because of his unselfish passing and tenacious defense.
Next year, Coach Humphrey expects the team to take a step forward in experience, to play a faster tempo on both ends of the court and play more aggressively, especially on defense.
“Playing selfless team basketball will allow us to continue to have the type of success we have had the past few years,” he said. “I’m optimistic this group is up for the challenge.”