LYNN — Last year’s Classical girls basketball team went on an incredible run during the 2017-2018 season, going 19-1 in the regular season, winning the Northeastern Conference and earning a No. 1 seed in the Division 2 North tournament. And despite an unfortunate end to the year on an upset in the quarterfinal round, coach Tom Sawyer knows it was a successful year.
“There’s certainly no shame in losing in the quarterfinals, especially since we ran into a good team,” said Sawyer, now in his 13th season as head coach. “But still, it’s tough when you lose. We have a very different team coming back this year, so the best thing for us to do is just turn the page and look ahead.”
This year’s Classical team will certainly be different. The Rams had a very experienced group last season with eight seniors. In fact, 98 percent of the team’s scoring from last year has graduated. Leading scorer Paris Wilkey is now ready to start her freshman season at Franklin Pierce, and starters Irianis Delgado, Jeylly Medrano and Tyarah Horton have also left due to graduation.
“Those girls were great for the program and they’re all going to do great moving forward, and we’ll miss them,” said Sawyer. “But at the same time, we have a great group of players returning this year and we’re excited to see what we can do on the court.”
The Rams will be led by their four seniors. Jazzmine Masse is set to take over the point guard role from Medrano and be the leader on the court. Keyanni Jordan and Skyler Crayton are set to play on the wings and handle things like rebounding, scoring and defense, while Rebecca Walker brings experience and a competitive fire that is sure to keep the entire team going.
“That core group is going to be big for us for sure, as they have the most experience of anyone on the team,” Sawyer said. “It’s a lot to ask of them since they’ll all be taking on much bigger roles than last year, but they’re all up to the challenge.”
The loss of so many seniors also means that younger players will begin to step up, and there’s a group of four juniors that Sawyer expects to take over that role. Jean Gupton-Morrison and Amber Crayton will bring a limited amount of varsity experience to the table, while Kiara Edmonds and Lindsey Valeri are making the jump up from junior varsity.
“We have a great mix of players on this year’s team,” said Sawyer. “We have players who have varsity experience and players who have little to no varsity experience. I like the mix of talent, experience and youth that we have.”
Sawyer likes what he’s seen in practice so far in the early going.
“The effort, focus and attitude is all there and has been from day one,” said Sawyer. “We keep on improving every day, and if we can keep that up throughout the year we’ll be in good shape.”
The Rams open up the season on December 14 at home against Somerville. Before that, Classical will host the 26th Annual Paul Duchane Girls Varsity High School Basketball Jamboree next Saturday, where the Rams will scrimmage against Georgetown.
“We’re all excited to get going,” Sawyer said.