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Merrimack Valley

December 1, 2012

Newly-coed school adds boys basketball

A fresh start


A late afternoon trip to the hardwood at the Dupre’ Center yields an insight to the eclectic essence that is the new PMA.

In one corner of the gym, you’ll find Gallagher working on his ball-handling, with Sebastian Lopez, a 15-year-old sophomore and member of PMA’s first fully co-ed freshmen class from Lawrence and 17-year-old Ryan Zhao, a junior boarding student from China.

It is the boys hoop melting pot. And it feeds directly into what the school behind those Searles Castle walls on Lawrence Street is attempting to deliver.

“I came to PMA, because I wanted to be part of that new co-ed experience,” explained Lopez, who plays a savage saxophone in the school band and also is involved in student council. “I came here and had no idea what the high school experience would be like. So far, it’s been great. Basketball will make it even better. I think it will bring us together as teammates and classmates.”

Twenty of the 43 boys in the school turned out for Coach Gann’s first practice this week.

And the veteran hoop mentor, who took Nashoba, a small vocational school in Westford, from 2-18 in his first season to a Vocational School championship a couple years later, had no mercy on the newcomers.

“We really don’t have any funny moments at practice,” said Lopez, who hadn’t played organized ball since the fifth grade. “Coach isn’t the kind of guy who jokes around on the court. He pushes us, and I’m glad he does. We’re getting into shape, and we’re learning how to work together.”

While Zhao had played a little ball, he had no idea he’d be coming halfway around the globe to become a pioneer in two sports.

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