Team play helps Mount Greylock boys stay on winning track
Mount Greylock has enjoyed more than its share of athletic success over the years, just not on the basketball court.
But a tight-knit group and their coach are changing all that.
"It's kind the idea of selflessness," said Mounties boys basketball coach Bob Thistle. "This concept of ‘What can I do as a player to come out and really help us in our goal every night?' I see kids who are doing difficult things, trying to compete for minutes and time and also pulling for each other."
Thistle, in his second season in Williamstown, has Greylock winning games at an unprecedented clip. The Mounties (12-2) made it to the Western Massachusetts Division III semifinals last year after winning just four games the year before. Greylock has already clinched a postseason berth with 12 wins this season.
Senior Nathan Majumder was on that struggling Mounties team two years ago. He said he never thought he'd see a winning season in basketball. Now he has two, thanks in large part to this team-first mentality that permeates every member of the roster.
"It's always tough for people who don't get playing time," Majumder said. "Some guys will be disappointed but I think people have accepted the fact that they have a role on the team. Thistle stresses that and has people play a role in the team's winning."
Sometimes that means being a cheerleader on the bench. Or it could mean maintaining a lead for two or three minutes while the starters rest or are held out because of foul trouble. Thistle called the two or three minutes he may get every half from a substitute "valuable." That attitude is driving success.
"Everyone has their own role on the court," said senior Brett McCormack. "When we're playing together and accomplishing our goals, it is really fun out there."
These Mounties are enjoying the ride. Tyrell Thomas and Hank Barrett said the team hangs out all the time outside of basketball -- including at the school lunch table.
"It's become more of like a brotherhood and not just a team," Thomas said. "We think team-first so much, we tend to be a little too unselfish. Sometimes coach yells at us, ‘Take the shot!' "
Save for passing up the occasional wide-open shot, Greylock has hardly stumbled this year. Thistle said his team's trip to the sectional semifinals last year made the whole program hungry for more.
This season, the Mounties have sped past mile markers. This group had never beaten St. Joe's before -- until last week. They'd also never beaten Taconic in Pittsfield before accomplishing that earlier this week.
A quick glance at a box score will give you a laundry list of scorers on Greylock's roster. But there are plenty of other contributions you can't quantify on paper.
"You want to have individual success," Barrett said. "[Thistle] just reminds you there's so many ways to contribute that aren't just scoring points."
To reach Christopher James:
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On Twitter: @BECJ2K