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Seniors Lead Nipmuc Hoops Playoff Appearance

Despite an early postseason exit, the 2015-2016 Nipmuc boys basketball team completed an impressive three-year turnaround under head coach Bob Manzello that saw the Warriors go from one win two seasons ago to a squad that this year made appearances in the Clark Tournament and the Central Mass District Tournament.
"Going into the year, we had goals of trying to win the league, trying to get into the Clark and trying to get into the districts," Manzello said after his team lost to Dover-Sherborn 54-41 in the first round of the districts. "It felt good for the seniors who had been in the program for the past three years. They went from 1-18 to this. I am glad they were able to do it and very proud of those seniors."
The senior class was anchored by forward Tom Sperino and guard Bernard Broni. Sperino averaged around nine points per game while Broni checked in at seven points per night.
"I've said it before, when Tom plays well, we play well, he has been a three-year starter," Manzello said. "Bernard is a senior who stepped up this year, he had to play point guard for us and I don't think there was a game where he didn't play 30 minutes, I couldn't afford to take him off the court. I would say he was our team MVP this year, he was definitely a huge impact player."
Luke Tempesta was voted a captain by his teammates and Manzello said he brought versatility to the floor as a player who could do well as an off-guard, small forward, or power forward. Matt Jacques shot well enough to give teams notice, often forcing them to play him out on the perimeter and opening up opportunities inside, the coach said.
Perhaps the biggest pleasant surprise in the senior class, Manzello added, was Alex Martin.
"He got stronger and really worked on his game," Manzello said. "He got a couple starts and had
some good games. He is a defensive minded kid who we were able to use on the other team's best player."
John Kossuth is a two year varsity player who made the most of his playing time this year, Manzello said. The coach also credited senior Ryan Nordquist with being able to work back after missing nearly a year and a half of basketball due to illness and injury.
Despite graduating the strong senior class, Manzello feels confident about the crop he has returning, including leading scorer Kyle Downing, who earned all-DVC Second Team honors. The sophomore missed the tournament game due to a sprained ankle, but will return along with Zach Hunter and Lucas Vanslette, both of whom earned starters' minutes this year.
Nipmuc is also hoping to have Cam Dunning back for his senior year at point guard. Multiple concussions forced him out of the lineup this year. Sophomore Sean Downing, who started in place of his brother against Dover-Sherborn, and freshman Jack Tempesta also figure to be key cogs for the Warriors.
"We are always sad to see the seniors go, but we feel we have a very good team returning for next year," Manzello said.




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