Over the course of the past decade, we've seen North Shore high school boys hoops squads win state championships. We've seen countless buzzer beaters, overtime thrillers and monstrous dunks. And we've seen talented athletes take home Conference Player of the Year honors and surpass the 1,000 career-point mark.
The question is, out of all those great teams and great players, what 15 guys stood head and shoulder above the rest?
It wasn't easy, but through plenty of stats digging, archive research and personal memory from games I've covered over the past five years at The Salem News, I came up with this list. It's not perfect, and there will certainly be disagreements and worthy arguments for players not chosen. But I think one thing most people would agree on is that the following 15 athletes strung together wildly impressive careers at their respective schools.
For this particular All-Decade squad, players from the following Salem News coverage area schools were considered: Danvers, Beverly, Salem, Marblehead, Peabody, Swampscott, Hamilton-Wenham, Masconomet, Ipswich, Essex Tech, St. John's Prep, Bishop Fenwick and Pingree. I chose to go with a positionless starting five as well as 10 other worthy hoopsters from the past 10 years. Players whom I strongly considered but begrudgingly had to cut are listed in the honorable mention section.
So without further adieu, here we go ...
Pat Connaughton, St. John's Prep (2011): Two-time Salem News Player of the Year averaged nearly 23 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists per game as a senior ... Guided Eagles to their first basketball state championship in program history ... Named Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year as senior and remains school's all-time leading scorer with 1,713 points ... Went on to shine at Notre Dame and now plays for the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.
Marcus Zegarowski, Hamilton-Wenham (2013-2015): One of top North Shore talents during his two years with the Generals prior to transferring ... Led H-W to perfect 25-0 record and Division 4 state title as a sophomore ... Averaged over 20 points while leading team in assists and steals during 10th grade campaign ... Cape Ann League Player of the Year ... Tremendous defender ... Currently the starting point guard for Division 1 Creighton University.
George Merry, Danvers (2012): Six-foot-8 athletic force averaged a near triple double with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks per game as a senior ... Helped Falcons claim Division 3 state championship, averaging over 18 points and 10 boards in postseason ... Solid interior defender ... Became Danvers' go-to offensive weapon during his senior year playoff run on a team chock-full of other talent.
Antonio Reyes, Salem (2011): Netted 1,586 career points, ranking him third all-time at Salem High behind only legends Scoonie Penn and Rick Brunson ... Averaged 21.7 points as a senior ... Despite his size, moved to forward as senior and tore down nearly 12 rebounds per game.
Steve Haladyna, St. John's Prep (2012): Four-year varsity player averaged 22.5 points and 9.5 rebounds as a senior, including four 30-plus-point outbursts ... Tenacious rebounder and defender ... Finished second in all-time career scoring at the Prep with 1,392 points and helped lead Eagles to state title as a junior ... Played college ball at Tufts.
ON THE BENCH
Adam Bramanti, Masconomet (2012): Pure scorer and knockdown shooter became first Masconomet male to reach 1,000 career points ... Averaged 20 points per game as senior while leading his team to 14 wins ... Three-time Cape Ann All-League selection went on to become one of the top 3-point shooters ever at Stonehill College.
Nick Bates, Danvers (2013): Averaged a modest 12 points and 11 rebounds per game as senior for balanced Falcon attack that won Div. 3 state title ... Came through with 12 points and 17 big rebounds in state championship win over Smith Academy ... Six-foot-5 Northeastern Conference all-star shined at collegiate level for for Salve Regina where he scored over 1,000 career points.
Billy Whelan, Hamilton-Wenham (2019): Three-sport standout arguably shined brightest on the basketball court, averaging 20.3 points, 4.3 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 3.7 steals per game as a senior ... Finished career with 1,056 total points and hit 70 3-pointers as a senior ... Cape Ann League Baker Division MVP will begin college hoops career at Connecticut College.
Derek Marino, Marblehead (2018): Consistent scorer and rebounder concluded senior year with averages of 19.3 points and 8.7 rebounds ... Racked up 130 steals for his career (2 per game) and averaged 8.6 rebounds during his time as a Magician ... Northeastern Conference All-Conference member scored 1,063 career points ... Went on to play football at Bates.
Duncan Moreland, Beverly (2020): Recent graduate played integral role in helping Panthers to Division 2 state semifinals at TD Garden, the longest postseason run in program history ... Six-foot-2 swingman led North Shore in scoring at 20.5 points as senior, finishing third all-time at Beverly with 1,123 career points ... Also tore down 7.5 rebounds as a senior ... Will play football at University of New Hampshire.
Felix Kloman, Pingree (2020): One of the top all-around talents of the last decade, Kloman wrapped up his career with averages of 19 points, five rebounds and five assists per game ... Six-foot-6 guard was always a threat for game-altering dunk ... All-New England Prep School Athletic Conference (NEPSAC) selection was recruited by a number of Division 1 programs before settling on Brown University.
Jack Crowley, Beverly (2020): Four-year varsity player formed formidable 1-2 punch with Moreland in helping the Panthers advance to their first-ever Division 2 state semifinal appearance ... Arguably the top rebounder of this past decade, Crowley pulled down 14.1 rebounds per contest as a senior to go with 13.8 points and 4.1 assists per game ... NEC All-Conference selection will continue hoops career at Worcester State.
Jake Rudolph, Masconomet (2015): As pure a scorer as they come, Rudolph surpassed the 1,000 career point mark as a senior ... Averaged more than 20 points per game as both a junior and senior ... Cape Ann All-League selection continued his career at Endicott College.
Ricky Arias, Pingree/Salem (2018): A first-team NEC All-Conference member as a sophomore at Salem High, Arias transferred to Pingree and didn't disappoint ... Averaged team-best 19 points, six rebounds and four assists per game as a senior ... Surpassed 1,000 career-point mark when he scored 39 points, including nine 3-balls, in a Highlanders' win ... Arguably one of the greatest male athletes ever at Pingree now runs track at UMass Amherst.
Tommy O'Neil, St. John's Prep (2018): Six-foot-8 forward with smooth jumper averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds as a senior ... Helped Eagles to 15-5 regular season record during his 12th grade campaign ... Year-round hoopster also shined for Middlesex Magic AAU squad ... Played post graduate year at Vermont Academy and now plays at Harvard.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jordan Smith, Essex Tech (2011); Alex Morsey, Bishop Fenwick (2011); Drew Costello, St. John's Prep (2013); Eric Martin, Danvers (2013); Nick McKenna, Danvers (2013); Johnnie Spears, Pingree (2014); Nick Cross, Beverly (2014); Vinny Clifford, Danvers (2015); Max Zegarowski, Hamilton-Wenham (2013-15); Devan Harris, Danvers (2015); Bryan Martinez, Salem (2015); Alex Sanchez, Salem (2016); Rashad Francois, Danvers (2016); Griffin Beal, Pingree (2016); Patrick Bugler, Marblehead (2017); Pat Gavin, Beverly (2017); Alonzo Jackson, Pingree (2017); Nate Hobbs, St. John's Prep (2018).