Hutchinson’s a Central Figure for the Warriors
There is nothing that Sam Hutchinson loves more than the adrenaline rush of a hotly contested basketball game. This year, Sam has been experiencing that rush on a regular basis as a key member of the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team.
Sam is the starting center for the Warriors as a junior this season. Sam has been playing basketball for the past decade, and he’s learned a lot about the sport while working his way up the local ranks.
“Many of my friends were starting to play, and I thought it would be interesting to join, so my parents signed me up,” says Sam. “I played park and rec in 2nd and 3rd grade and, in 4th grade, I started Valley travel, where I played for Mr. Ron Sparaco for five years leading up to high school.”
Sam helped Valley post a record of 10-10 during the regular season to earn the No. 7 seed in the Shoreline Conference Tournament. The Warriors took a 44-41 loss against Morgan in the first round of Shorelines and now get ready to compete in the Division IV State Tournament.
“Our team’s expectation for this year is obviously to win a championship. I think with our coaching, work ethic, and captains, we can achieve that goal,” Sam says. “Our regular season did not end with the record that we wanted or expected, but we fought through a lot of adversity, losing two senior captains for a majority of the year, one of them being done for the season.”
Sam is averaging 7.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game for Valley this year. The junior center has recorded three double-doubles and scored a season-high 14 points in a 49-37 victory versus Coginchaug.
Sam feels that the Warriors have their best basketball ahead of them and can make Valley’s faithful fans proud by going on a nice run in states.
“Although our record did not project our abilities, we have confidence that we can go deep into the state tournament because, historically, March is the time where Valley basketball plays its best,” says Sam. “My favorite part about basketball is when we make big plays and get our bench, student section, and other spectators all on their feet. It gives us a spark and, when we get hot, it is really hard to stop us. This is when we are at our best.”
Head Coach Kevin Woods describes Sam as the type of player that every team needs to have on its roster. Coach Woods praises Sam for the tenacity that his center brings to both ends of the floor.
“Sam is hard-nosed, tough inside, and can play with his back to the basketball, which is a part of the game that has been neglected in the basketball game at all levels,” Woods says. “He is a great teammate and an absolute pleasure to coach.”
Sam’s relationship with Coach Woods stems back to when he played travel basketball in his elementary and middle school years. That relationship has only grown stronger throughout Sam’s three seasons with the high school team.
“The Valley basketball programs work together to give the players the best opportunity when they get to high school. Coach Woods builds relationships with his players through camps and watches you play when you are younger,” says Sam. “Because of this, he has a lot of trust in his players, which allows us to play and practice at levels that other teams may not be able to reach.”
Sam works rigorously during the offseason to enhance his basketball skills. He’s always focused on improving his strength and conditioning.
“Improving your game relies on a lot more than just showing up for practice. In the offseason, especially in the summer, I get a lot of shots up and work on parts of my game that I think I need to improve on from the previous year,” Sam says. “On top of that, getting to the gym to improve physicality is also essential, because it comes up huge in big games against larger teams.”
Sam is also a center back with the Valley boys’ soccer team, for which he earned All-Shoreline Second Team honors last fall. During the spring, Sam plays in the outfield for the Warriors’ baseball squad.
Sam feels grateful to partake in a full basketball season following a couple of abbreviated campaigns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sam is looking forward to hitting the court as Valley boys’ hoops plays its first states game since 2019.
“I was never very worried about playing through the COVID pandemic, but it is always very hard to start a season with masks. Getting into shape with masks is treacherous, but our work ethic in practice allows us to be the most fit team in the Shoreline,” Sam says. “I’m excited to see how the rest of this season plays out.”