BRAINTREE, Mass. -- The Braintree Wamps came out hard early, and while they looked ahead during stretches in the game, ultimately looked back at the last 23 years as coach Robert Crook won his 300th game as head boys’ basketball coach as his team pulled out a 59-53 win over Weymouth.
“I’m just glad I could contribute to it,” said Braintree captain Steve Murphy (16 poingts, six rebounds). “It’s a big accomplishment, bigger than people are making it out to be."
Although Weymouth was down most of the game, Braintree came close to a last minute shootout with the Wild Cats as the lead of nearly 20 shrunk to six as the buzzer sounded. When asked about what happened during the game that allowed Weymouth to stay close instead of Braintree expanding the lead, senior captain Steve Lee stated that the team needs to adjust in-game play and mentality if they are to make it deep into the playoffs.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not we are up on Weymouth by 20 or it’s a tournament game and you are down by 3, you’ve just got to play hard until the end.”
The Big 300: “I tell these guys we’re a family and this is bigger than basketball is,” said Coach Crook of his constant reminder to his team. “Tonight I think they saw that.” When coach Crook was surrounded by his family and players, athletic Director Michael Denise also called alumni of the program out onto the floor, some contacted through word of mouth, others e-mail and yet some through social media sites.
“It’s an honor to play for Coach Crook,” said Lee (19 pts, 4 reb, and 3 stls). “He always knows what he’s talking about with every [opposing] team. Preparation for every team is on point.”
From the Youth League, to the Big Stage and Beyond: At halftime during Wamps’ home game, Braintree Youth Basketball take center stage instead of cheerleaders and music as is the usual fanfare in other towns. There is something special about this, as Coach Crook is a supporter of Braintree Youth Basketball and can count some of their alumni as players and alumni of the Braintree High Program. Michael Denise, Athletic Director for Braintree, has seen firsthand just how dedicated coach Crook is to basketball and the community.
“It was Coach Crook who first offered me the head coaching job at South [Braintree] middle school," admitted Denise, who was the master of ceremony during the plaque celebration of coach Crook’s career milestone.
Denise continued, “When I first started, Coach Crook took an hour out of his day, invited me to his home, and showed me how to run the Braintree basketball system. That showed me how dedicated he was not only to developing basketball players, but making sure that when they came into his system there was already some familiarity.
"Although there are alumni who had good careers at Braintree, Coach Crook has also helped to develop some really good men in the community including some of his assistants. They’re not only learned from his but are now resources to the entire South Shore.”