Getting Up

Sandwich High’s Colby Leighton wins a battle for a rebound against Falmouth during a game last season. The center is back for his senior season.

The only people more excited to start the 2021 basketball season than new Sandwich High School head coach John Tzimorangas might be his players. Maybe. That’s a tough call because the exuberant first-year skipper is like a two-liter bottle of soda that has been shaken vigorously. As soon as the cap is unscrewed on the season, there’s likely to be an explosion of good times at SHS.

With a talented roster, much of which the first-year varsity coach has coached during AAU or travel ball over the years, Sandwich has to be considered among the favorites to take home the Cape and Islands League championship, even if it had to cut short its practice schedule for a two-week hiatus that will give it just one day to ready for its scheduled January 12 game against Martha’s Vineyard on the island. Earlier games, with Cape Cod Academy and Barnstable, will have to be rescheduled for later dates.

Talent alone says the Knights should be considered one of the teams to beat in the league, but the experience factor may be what puts it over the top. Sandwich has eight seniors on the roster, seven returning from last year’s club. The Knights qualified for the state tournament last year, in coach Dennis Green’s final season, and are hoping to honor their retired coach by winning the Cape crown.

“We have a heavily experienced team, and a lot of the kids I’ve coached for years, so there is a familiarity there,” Tzimorangas said.

The team will be captained by two very talented seniors in shooting guard Chris Cronin and center Colby Leighton.

Cronin, an all-league performer a year ago, is one of the premier backcourt players in the area. A physical guard, he can get to the basket and also has a nice outside game. The four-year varsity player is a true dual threat.

Leighton is not fun to play against. A physical big man who has committed to play college lacrosse at Assumption, Leighton fights for position down low very well, on both ends of the court. He also has great speed and can run the court.

The rest of the backcourt should also be very good. Sophomore Logan Murphy will run the point. The 6-3 guard will have a size advantage over most players he matches up against and can also rip the cords from the outside.

Sophomore Tim Bengston, who plays quarterback on the SHS football team, is an adept passer. He also plays strong on defense and will be heard from.

Senior Kyle McNally is a solid defender with long arms. He can knock down shots from the outside, as well.

Seniors Aiden Rogers and Brendan Hoffman are both smart players who will play a role off the bench. Rogers is supremely team-oriented and Hoffman has worked hard to get back on the court after an injury that left him sidelined for a year and a half.

Sean Lansing, a junior, will be the swingman in the Sandwich attack. Lansing is a returning starter who played a lot at the power forward spot last year, but his coach feels he will benefit from playing the small forward position, where his ability to slash and shoot will make him a weapon. “He can give us some different looks,” Tzimorangas said.

Jack Mandy will start at the power forward spot. He is another returning senior from a year ago. Mandy runs the court very well and can stick jump shots, while also setting a tone inside.

Will Audyatis, a senior, returns for another varsity season. He plays hard-nosed defense and has nice range with his shot. Brady Campbell, a junior, is up from the junior varsity squad. He can play either forward position and has a solid midrange game. Will Swift, a junior, plays with energy and gets up and down the court swiftly.

With so many talented options, with good size and speed, Tzimorangas is looking forward to seeing what the club can do once the games are for real. “Our offense has a nice motion to it and we try to get the ball to the basket. They pass the ball really well and hit the open guy,” the coach said. “I can’t wait to get going.”

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