Coming off a stretch of losing seasons, including an 8-15 record in 2020, the Severna Park boys basketball team did not begin this season with the burden of lofty expectations. But internally, the boys pushed one another to improve.
The result: the Falcons started 12-5 heading into a February 14 game against Long Reach High School.
The Falcons’ core is full of players who have competed together for years, from Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to pickup games at Cypress Creek.
“Severna Park has never been known for basketball,” said Declan Fox, a senior who has been on the varsity team since his sophomore year. “The players were usually athletes of other sports who decided to play basketball on the side.”
Fox and several of his teammates have worked to become bigger, stronger and faster while refining their basketball skills year-round. As head coach Paul Pellicani noted, the team is deeper than it has been in years.
“We’re very deep; we’ve got some length, we’ve got some quicks, we’ve got some shooters,” he said following a win over North County on January 25.
Anthony Bocchetta has been an offensive force, scoring 26 points against Annapolis, 21 against Broadneck and 20 points in his team’s first meeting against South River. In the second meeting with South River on February 11, it was Fox who led Severna Park scorers with 17. Fellow senior Bryce Stevenson added 15, helping the Falcons earn a 68-58 win and a season sweep over the Seahawks.
“We have so many good players,” Stevenson said. “We have 10 players who could start, and we have good chemistry.
“The good thing about having depth, we practice against our defense, which is one of the best defenses we are going to see,” he added. “It helps having those guys.”
Fox, Stevenson and Bocchetta all emphasized that the players on the team are best friends, making the team’s turnaround even more enjoyable.
“It’s definitely fun winning more games,” Bocchetta said. “Severna Park doesn’t have to be just a lacrosse school. There are other sports we can be good at.”
With more wins comes more external pressure. Fox said the coaches have kept the players grounded.
“We’ve been in games with big crowds and big implications, and on the bus ride over, coach always says, ‘We’re here for one reason and one reason only: to win basketball games,’” Fox said. “That has helped us stay focused.”
Players feel like they have all the pieces to make a deep playoff run, but they won’t get overconfident.
“We just need to keep playing the way we play and not to anyone else’s pace,” Bocchetta said. “If we try to do things that we don’t do best, we might run into trouble.”
Severna Park’s losing seasons are in the past. Stevenson, who missed time with an injury earlier this year, is excited to be back on the court with his friends, bringing Severna Park’s basketball program back to relevance.
“We’re always hungry; we’re never satisfied,” Stevenson said. “I think we have something special this year.”