HARWICH – Josh Wiggin is unapologetically energetic. His passion and energy are among the traits he said he inherited from his mom, Maureen, and they come out on the basketball court, especially when the Cape Cod Tech junior forward is having success.
Wiggin was at his best — and most spirited — Feb. 3 when the Crusaders boys basketball team hosted Mayflower Athletic Conference rival Norfolk Aggie. Wiggin scored nine of his game-high 26 points during the opening quarter to power Cape Tech to a 64-44 victory, its fourth in a row.
“I think we all tried our best and it just happened to be me to be the one that put the ball in the hole tonight,” Wiggin, a Hyannis resident, said after Thursday’s win, which came just two days before Cape Tech (9-6) extended its win streak to five with a 66-44 victory at Atlantis Charter on Saturday.
Simply put, the Crusaders are rolling. But it’s not just Wiggin who has a hot hand — seniors Austin Walker (14 points), Tafari Burke (12 points) and Kane DeBarros (7 points) all chipped in during Thursday’s rout. As much as the players have been able to pull away from opponents on the scoreboard, Cape Tech coach Brent Warren has been even happier with the way his team has been playing without the ball.
“They’re starting to understand what I’m asking them to do,” Warren said. “Even though we’re still not moving the ball as well as we should, they’re really starting to understand and perform well at the defensive end. It’s been going really well. The kids work really hard. I’ve got to give them all of the credit.”
While the Crusaders sometimes rely on individual talent to create scoring opportunities through isolation plays at the offensive end, the team’s defensive prowess has been the result of all five players working together.
Each Cape Tech player has their own job to do and they all embrace their roles, which has been a major key to the team’s recent success.
“It’s not by accident,” Warren said of his team’s unselfish play. “We talk about mindset and what our role is on the team a lot. Everybody supports the team and I’m proud because the kids understand that. If I walk away with nothing else, I know that I’ve done my job because of that.”
Burke, a senior from Hyannis, is among the Crusaders who happily carries out his assignment. His job is to provide the team with a spark — to be a pain in the neck for opponents on defense and a junkyard dog on the offensive end, meaning he’ll battle for rebounds and score tough buckets in crowded areas underneath the basket.
“I embrace it because originally, that’s how I learned how to play, defense first,” Burke said of his role. “Defense wins games. We’re all talented and we’re all good at the defensive end — when we bring it all together, we’re really a tough team to beat.”
“Our energy has been there,” added Walker, a Harwich resident. “Our defense has been killer; it’s just always been there and we’re going to try to keep it up the rest of the year. And our shots are starting to fall now, too. Everyone is just playing as one and we’re just firing.”
Walker was among the Crusaders who experienced a slow start Thursday while Wiggin carried the team in the opening quarter. After a scoreless opening frame, Walker made a pair of 3-pointers and added a 2-point field goal to bring his total to eight before halftime.
He finished with 14 after making two more triples during the third quarter.
“I thought it wasn’t going to be one of those nights,” admitted Walker, who noted his shot-making did more than raise Cape Tech’s point total. “It fires up the crowd and fires up the team and gets everybody shooting and that opens the floor a little bit.”
It was clear the team was “fired up,” as Walker puts it, throughout Thursday’s victory. There were many moments after the Crusaders scored in which the players would offer a fist pump or raise their arms to encourage the crowd to cheer as they retreated to the opposite end of the floor to play defense.
Cape Tech’s outpouring of enthusiasm and passion is as contagious as the team’s scoring right now, and all of the players are hopeful the team can ride its current wave through the end of the regular season and into the state tournament.
“I actually said in the beginning of the year, we hit a little rough patch but I knew we were going to spark fire at some point,” Wiggin said. “It’s amazing that it’s happening at this time of the year when we need it the most. Hopefully we’ll keep this rolling.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BradJoyal