Naccarato Proves a Leader On and Off the Court For Westbrook
The Westbrook Knights boys’ basketball team started their season of regular competition on Dec. 15 against the Coginchaug Regional Blue Devils. The final score of the game was 74-62, with the Knights taking the loss.
The varsity team includes 20 players, as well as three captains: Brandon Naccarato, Ryan Engels, and Brandon’s cousin, Vin Naccarato. Brandon has been a key asset to the team this year as a captain, according to Coach Beeman.
“Brandon has been our ‘go to’ player so far this year,” says Coach Beeman. “He is passionate and a committed player who would always prefer to win than get personal accolades.”
Brandon’s history with the sport of basketball started at a very young age, as he has been playing since he was in third grade. “I have been playing basketball my whole life,” says Brandon. “My brother played and my dad used to play, they signed me up and I have been playing ever since then.”
Brandon is also on the Track and Field team at Westbrook High School, where he competes in the 100 meter, the 200 meter, the 4x1, and long jump.
The Knights are currently 1-4, with losses against Coginchaug, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, and Whitney Tech.
Despite the tough losses early in the season, Brandon is staying positive for his teammates.
“We have three winnable games this week, which I feel like are winnable games. I think that can really boost our season,” says Brandon. “If we go 3-0 this week and beat the teams we lost to before, from there we can go over .500 and make states as well as the conference tournament.”
Coach Beeman looks forward to what his team can do this season as well as how coachable the team is.
“Every season I find joy in watching the kids that are really working at their personal improvement take the next steps,” says Coach Beeman. “There is also pleasure seeing the team progressing in their developmental skills and having it transfer into wins.”
During the offseason, in addition to being a member of the Track and Field team, Brandon plays in a summer league for basketball.
“We only had four guys playing from our team, me and three juniors,” says Brandon. “The head coaches choose a coach and then enroll players onto each team, including players that graduated already.”
The Knights are a close-knit team since there are only 20 players on the varsity squad. Brandon uses his relationship with not only the other captains, but also with Coach Beeman, to prepare the team before games.
“We meet with him as captains and he tells us what he thinks we should do and how we break some news to our other teammates,” says Brandon. “We help him game plan before games, and he lets us do it in our way because he knows that we know our friends and our teammates the best.”
Coach Beeman talks about how positively Brandon impacts the team, and his ability to lead on and off the court.
“Brandon’s best attribute is his ability to score via drives and jump shots. He has also become an important ball handler and rebounder for us,” says Coach Beeman. “Brandon has been playing for me for four years. His commitment to improving himself as an athlete and basketball player has been extraordinary,” says Coach Beeman. “He wanted to be the best basketball player in Westbrook, and he has achieved that goal. He will be missed next year.”
Brandon talks about his role as one of the three captains, and how the five seniors who graduated last year affects their play in this current season.
“There is not much varsity experience, although the team is mixed between seniors and juniors,” says Brandon. “I can keep my composure better when the games are getting close at the end, as well as tell my teammates that we can come back during any game.”
With any sport, there is always a tough game that teams need to win, as well as look forward to the competition, whether that be during the regular season or playoffs.
“Cromwell is always tough to play as well as Old Saybrook,” says Brandon. “Cromwell has a really good defense, and they hold pressure the whole game. Old Saybrook just has a skilled team and guys that are fast and shoot well.”
During the past three years playing varsity, Brandon has totaled around 700 points so far and looks to follow in his brother’s footsteps, who scored 1,000 points during his high school career.
“The biggest goal is to get to 1,000 points. I am confident that I can get there,” says Brandon. “I have to play well every game to get there.”