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Millis/Medway - Local Town Pages

Medway Boys Quintet Focuses On Reaching Its Potential

Medway coach Eric Copeland is no stranger to success. Courtesy photo.

Staff Sports Writer

The goals Eric Copeland stressed at the start of the season for his Medway basketball team made no mention of a Tri Valley League championship or a berth in the State tournament. Instead of mentioning the TVL or the tourney, the Mustang coach focused on practical matters.
“We want to improve daily and we want to reach or exceed our potential,’’ said Copeland who is in his fourth year at the helm. “If we achieve those two objectives, then we should be a contender for the league’s Small Division title and likely qualify for the playoffs. Winning will be the by-product if we meet our goals but what’s important is consistency of effort in practice.’’
Although the Mustangs are off to a lukewarm start, they have followed Copeland’s blueprint, compiling a 4-4 record at Local Town Pages deadline. 
“We’ve got a good mix of talented and experienced veterans to go with energetic and competitive underclassmen,’’ he emphasized. “Our prime strength is an experienced backcourt. Other assets are athleticism, speed and quickness, mental and physical toughness, and a coachable nature.’’
Medway’s three senior captains are all top-notch guards — Christian White (6-feet), Oliver Magliaro (5-9), and Liam Harrigan (5-8). Through seven games, Magliaro had averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists while Harrigan averaged eight points.

“Christian is a smart, vocal leader whose best attribute is his ability to defend,’’ Copeland said. “He’s instinctive and moves well without the ball. Oliver, who missed several games because of a sprained ankle, is our most complete offensive player. He can attack the hoop with either hand, shoots the three very well, is able to hit mid-range shots and he passes effectively. Liam plays the point and he’s a great floor leader. A good offensive player, he’s also a strong defender, always matching up with our opponents’ top scoring threats. He also makes other players better.’’
Two senior forwards — Sean Converse (6-1) and Shea O’Neil (6-2) — round out the Mustangs’ starting lineup. Converse was averaging 7 points and 8 rebounds at Local Town Pages’ deadline.
“Sean is an excellent defender,’’ Copeland said. “A high energy competitor, he’s assigned to cover our opponents’ top forwards. A solid rebounder, he’s excellent in transition and his consistency is a big plus. Shea is a good dribble-drive player, always attacking his opponent off the dribble. He’s athletic and he can rebound.’’
Junior Matt Childs is a guard-forward who relies on toughness and a competitive spirit, and he brings those assets to practice and the games. “Matt’s a valuable defender and he’s improved his offensive game,’’ Copeland said. “Driving to the basket is his main strength.’’
Junior Connor Gray (5-10) is providing depth in the backcourt. “He’s giving us a great lift with his shooting from the three-point line,” Copeland said. “His proficiency from behind the arc is 40 percent.’’

Rounding out the squad are senior Will Dowling (6-foot forward), juniors James O’Connor (6-2 forward) and Sean Anderson (6-3 forward), and sophomores Jack Gould (6-4 forward), Caden Reisman (6-foot guard), Reuben Simon (6-foot forward) and Brendan McNamara (6-foot forward).
“This group works hard every day in practice and is beginning to earn more playing time,’’ Copeland said. “When we call on them, they’ll be ready.’’
A tourney berth will likely be in Medway’s future if it can limit its turnovers and improve its transition offense. Early on, the Mustangs had committed 20 or more turnovers in three games. “We need to limit turnovers and get better on transition offense by dribbling less and passing more effectively,’’ Copeland noted.  
An assistant at Medway and Franklin for 20 years, Copeland is no stranger to success. His first two years on the job as the Mustangs’ head coach resulted in a pair of Tri Valley League Small Division championships and two playoff berths. Medway’s deepest run in the tourney occurred during the 2018-19 season, advancing to the Sectional final where the Mustangs bowed to Westboro. 
Relying on a trademark that is a tough, half-court man-to-man defense, the 47-year-old Copeland prefers an offensive style that features an up-tempo, fast-break attack.
Getting prospective players ready for that style is one of the responsibilities for his assistants and they include varsity aide Shane Jackson, jayvee coach Chris Vanesian, and freshman coach Andrew Tiernan.
The personable Copeland, who missed three games because of COVID-19, has a competitive philosophy that mirrors the goals he set for his squad at the start of the season. “I want the kids to reach their potential and have fun,’’ he offered. “If that happens, then winning will follow. And, I hope our players learn valuable life lessons from athletics. Like how to overcome adversity, to develop mental toughness, and to be good teammates and top-notch leaders.’’
The Mustangs, who defeated powerful Dover-Sherborn in their opener, are a quality contingent and if they can finish their campaign peaking at the right time, they should be getting an invitation to the playoffs