Perfect Opportunity: ME Boys Hoop Eyes Post-season Run


With just a handful of games left in the regular season, a team that has already enjoyed a special season so far has the opportunity to add to its list of impressive accomplishments.

The Manchester Essex boys’ basketball team has been spectacular this winter, amassing a 15-2 overall record and a 13-0 record at the start of the week.  With two Cape Ann League games left (at Amesbury on February 14 and at Ipswich on February 16), the Hornets have a shot at attaining a perfect Cape Ann League record, just days after winning the Cape Ann League Baker Division crown with a 71-43 win over Hamilton-Wenham on February 10.

“We have a chance to hit something I never thought we’d be able to do, going undefeated,” explains Manchester Essex boys basketball coach Tim St. Laurent.  “It’s my seventh season with the team; we won the CAL outright on Friday night, that’s four out of the last five years where we’ve at least had a share, which is pretty cool.  But at the same time, being perfect doesn’t happen very often.”

It’s not as if the Hornets are strangers to success.  Last year’s squad made it all the way to the Elite Eight in the Div. 4 MIAA tournament, and most of that team returned intact for the 2022-23 season.  This group has been efficient, dominant and are ready to step up to the big stage near the end of February.

“Our eyes are set on that state tournament,” says St. Laurent.  “Everything we work for every day, compete for every night.  The CAL was one step in the process that we thought we could get to, but our eyes are on that tournament.”

Manchester Essex was ranked fourth overall in the latest Div. 4 rankings, due to the team playing a challenging schedule and excelling – out of the Hornets’ 15 victories, 12 were by 10 points or more over the opposition.

“We are right where we want to be,” says St. Laurent.  “The way they do the algorithms and power rankings, you have to win by 10.  You can’t control the strength of schedule – that’s done in the offseason – so we go out and try to win by 10 every night.”

The Hornets can accomplish such feats thanks to a roster that is deep and talented.  Senior Patrick Cronin is a team captain, and he leads by example.

“He’s been great,” says St. Laurent. “Rebounding, shooting, doing all the little things you need to do each night.”

Brennan Twombly’s versatility and leadership have been instrumental this year, as has been the play of juniors Eddie Chareas and Cade Furse.

“Eddie is our 6-6 center who can throw the ball in when we need a bucket,” explains St. Laurent.  “He’s coming along this year from a knee injury.  Cade Furse is our leading scorer with 23 points per game, and he shares the ball and gets everyone involved.”

Sam Athanas serves as the team’s sharpshooter, while Ben Hurd is a sixth man who is the envy of the league.

“He’s a guy who comes in and adds instant toughness when he steps on the floor,” says St. Laurent.  “He’s a great basketball player.”

Once the Hornets wrap up their CAL schedule, they finish the season in earnest with a non-league game against Randolph on Feb. 22 on the road (6 p.m.).  The game should be a good test of where the team stands before tournament seedings are announced at the end of the month, and one of the “circle-the-calendar” matchups the Hornets have played this season, which include big wins over Georgetown and Newburyport, and a close loss to Div. 4 number two team, Burke, earlier this season.

“On Wednesday, we play Randolph, the defending Div. 4 champs,” says St. Laurent.  “Everything I said about Burke – it confirmed that we can play with any team – is the same.  Another game like that is good practice for things before we do it in the main show.”