Upper Cape Tech head basketball coach Billy Macuch was pacing the courts of the Clean Harbors gym at Massachusetts Maritime Academy with a clipboard in one hand and a wireless microphone in the other. He swiftly maneuvered through the on-going games of three-on-three basketball, looking at his sheet to see which teams were due up on each court.
“We need Team Platinum and White Men Can’t Jump on court No. 4,” he said into the mic, his voice echoing over the smooth sounds of hip-hop hits provided by Andre Smith, the UCT girls’ basketball coach and a DJ on the side.
Macuch would stop every few feet, dapping up a former Rams’ student-athlete or sharing a quick laugh with one of the 40 volunteers at the 3rd annual Comoletti Memorial Scholarship 3x3 Basketball Tournament on Sunday, June 23. Although appearing stressed at times navigating roughly 125 players that comprised the 42 teams, the support received from the Comoletti family, friends and the Town of Bourne community went a long way in ensuring this new tradition continues for years to come.
“It’s a great day. We needed every last one of these volunteers to help make this happen,” Macuch said. “Hopefully we’ll have a fourth annual event and continue to grow this every year.”
The tournament continues to blossom despite still being in its infancy. Comoletti’s father, Glenn, previously told the Enterprise that the tournament was quickly thrown together just months after Comoletti, a 2016 UCT graduate, passed away following a single-car crash. That tournament took place at the outdoor court behind the Bourne Veterans’ Memorial Community Building—a place that Comoletti regularly frequented at all hours of the day, typically after working his plumbing job. Last August, after some lengthy in-town debates, that outdoor court now officially bears the former Rams’ hoop star’s name, punctuated by an engraved rock that sits in front of the enclosed blacktopped court.
“He was always playing pick-up games down at Comoletti Court,” Macuch said. “I love that we can finally call it that now.”
In the third year of the tournament, although the number of participants remained roughly the same as year two, it has grown in support in the form of sponsorships and raffle donations. The money raised goes to graduating three UCT student-athletes who excel in Comoletti’s former shop of plumbing, their shop of choice, and in his or her respective sport.
On Monday, June 24, Macuch relayed that the tournament had raised approximately $1,500 off of the basketball registration fees and enough “for three more years’ worth of scholarships” when adding the raffle and sponsorship donations.
The tournament itself featured the type of high-quality play that Comoletti would approve of, drawing players—both past and present—from various local colleges, ranging from NCAA Division I to Division III. Grown men brought their families and wives, hoping to relive their glory days of high school basketball if only for a few moments in the first-to-seven first-round games.
Current and former high school athletes, coming from over the bridge in Falmouth and Mashpee, like Clippers alum Chase Soares and current Falcon Kaiden Silva, were also present. Teams from as far north as Scituate represented the south shore while plenty of UCT, Bourne and Wareham student-athletes peppered the courts.
“The whole purpose of the day is to just get the kids and guys out playing basketball. That’s really what our goal is,” Macuch, who praised his collegiate alma mater for stepping up and offering the space for use, said. “Jason would’ve loved it.”
Comoletti’s friends agreed, as three years after his untimely death they still regularly play at the court he once spent much of his free time at. Anthony Cubellis, a Bourne High School alum, grew up playing with Comoletti and his twin brother, Adam, on youth teams.
“I knew Jason for about 15 years,” Cubellis recalled. “We grew up together, playing baseball and basketball together. They made everyone good on the team. They were just superstars. He always inspired me to keep playing basketball and to keep working on my game.”
While many took the tournament as an opportunity to flex their vibrant shoe games, Cubellis stole the show with some personally customized blue and white Nike Kyrie 5’s. Stitched on either tongue were a “J” and “C” with “Comoletti” embroidered in a cursive script on the inside.
“I did it because of just how much he meant to basketball here,” Cubellis said.
Paul Rossignol, a recent Bourne High graduate, played for the third time in the tournament. Although a few years behind Comoletti growing up, he recalled watching him play in the town’s travel team and going against him in pick-up games across town.
“I think this just showed how much everyone loved him,” Rossignol said of the tournament. “People come from all over that didn’t even know him, but knows what it means to come together and play basketball. That’s what everyone does around here. Jason loved [playing]. We all loved playing and watching him.”
In addition to the 15-and-over tournament, there was also a junior tournament consisting of four teams, guaranteed each team at least three games in the group stage. From there 16 teams advanced to the knockout rounds—a first-to-10 game that stipulated a no make-it, take-it rule and checking the ball on every called foul.
In the final round, it featured last year’s champion ‘Magic’ against Team Justin Davis, who was a long-time friend of Comoletti and a 2018 UCT graduate. In a back-and-forth game between the two evenly matched teams, Team Justin Davis escaped with a two-point victory, 15-13, to dethrone the Magic.
Somewhere Comoletti was smiling down on the tournament, giving his blessing to his childhood friend for taking home the top spot.
“That’s what today was—keeping [Jason’s] spirit alive. It was a great day,” Macuch said.