Senior Connor Campbell made a drastic change in his final varsity basketball season.
The Sandwich native had previously attended the town’s public school system — even serving as the Blue Knights basketball team’s co-captain as a junior. But at the conclusion of the 2019 school year, Campbell made a decision he described as the best choice for his senior season — transferring to Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School.
“I really thought that was the best decision for my senior year,” he said. “I have a lot of friends and some family that live over there. Academically it’s a similar structure to [Sandwich High School], so it was an easy transition there.”
When the winter months rolled in, his transition with his new varsity teammates was just as smooth as his in-class move. Playing on the Cape-based AAU team the Cape Cod Warriors since the 8th grade, he joined forces with travel teammates Jaquan Phillips, Alex Stowe and Kyle Ruggieri on the Dolphins.
“It was pretty seamless having played with them [and against them] over the years,” he said. “We also did a lot of team-building stuff in the offseason that really brought us together once the season started.”
Last year the Dolphins earned the ninth-seed in the Division 2 South Sectional tournament, getting ousted in the first round by No. 8 Whitman-Hanson, 60-57. With Phillips, a strong, slashing guard; Stowe, a rim-runner and paint protector; and Ruggieri, an undersized post player who can guard on the wing, Campbell’s do-it-all skillset blended right in with the 2019-2020 D-Y squad. A capable outside shooter with a knack for getting to rim and drawing foul calls with his herky-jerky movements, the senior could fit anywhere on the court offensively while showing the basketball IQ to defend stronger players in the paint.
“I’d typically play on the wing on offense and, defensively, I’m a pretty good rebounder and can box out well, so I’d move down to the post and switch with Kyle in our [defensive] zone sets,” Campbell said.
He, as well as his other aforementioned Dolphin teammates, also possesses a strong back-to-the-basket game — allowing D-Y to often pound the paint when the game is trending to a smaller, outside-shooting game.
“We made [posting up] a focus of our offense more than other teams, I think,” he said. “Post-up moves are dying out a little bit and we saw that we had an edge there with our overall size and thought it would work for us.”
The scheme worked as he helped guide D-Y to the top seed in the Division 2 South Sectional tournament, going 20-2 in the regular season. The Dolphins opened the season with seven-straight wins before Campbell returned back to Sandwich to meet his former Blue Knights in a Cape & Islands Atlantic clash.
Typically drawing a decent crowd, with both teams having a league rivalry across all sports, this game had the extra layers of Campbell’s return, the Dolphins’ unbeaten start and the emergence of Blue Knights junior Chris Cronin as one of the area’s top players. The right mixture of ingredients formed a packed house in East Sandwich for an otherwise average, mid-season game.
“I knew that was going to be an exciting and a packed game,” Campbell recalled. “I played with those guys forever. They definitely know what I like to do and I know what they liked to do. It was a good chess match. We knew Chris is one of the best on the Cape, so we really focused on trying to stop him.”
The former Blue Knight didn’t disappoint, scoring a team-high 15 points to go with eight rebounds, two assists, six steals and two blocks, as the Dolphins held off a late Sandwich comeback and Cronin’s game-high 25 points to win, 50-43. They went on to win 12 of their first 13 games and ended the regular season by staking claim to the first-ever Cape & Islands Atlantic League crown, winning the most games in program history.
The late-career change paid off for Campbell, who recently announced his commitment to continue his athletic career at UMass Dartmouth, where he plans to major in Marketing. He joins other local talents like Bourne alum Jake Ashworth, Apponequet’s Adam Seablom and Wareham’s Taylor Carlson to join the Corsairs.