---- — METHUEN — The Sicard family has a long, proud and prolific history with Lawrence High sports.
Michael (Class of 1996), Kristin (‘97), Sean (‘00), Kara (‘05), Mary (‘07) and Kelly (‘11) combined to win too many letters to count and often were team captains and among the best on their teams.
Former Lawrence softball coach Andy Reusch once said of their parents, Alan and Ellen Sicard, “They were the Booster Club. They’d do everything and anything you needed. ... They don’t make them like the Sicards any more!”
Thankfully, Alan and Ellen did “make” one more Sicard.
But Mark Sicard is a Methuen Ranger not a Lawrence Lancer.
“My family teases me all the time,” said Mark. “They always say I broke the tradition. That was in the back of my head.”
It wasn’t an easy decision.
“It was hard at first,” said Sicard, a graduate of Lawrence’s Guilmette Middle School. “All the friends and coaches (at Lawrence). I made the decision in the final seconds. Now I love Methuen. It was a really tough decision.”
He said he had the option because his mother is a secretary at Methuen High and the family also has property in Methuen.
The Rangers, who open up play Saturday in the Commonwealth Motors Christmas Classic, are thrilled to have him.
“He’s a competitive kid,” said first-year Methuen coach Anthony Faradie. “When the lights come on, he brings it to a different level.”
The 6-foot guard is multi-talented.
Faradie said, “He’s a tough kid. He’s able to do things off the dribble. He can shoot the ball. He’s a combo guard. He can run the point and play off the ball. We can put him in a multitude of positions.”
With all those athletes and coaches in the family, (Kelly and Mary are assistant field hockey and girls basketball coaches at Methuen), who jump started his career?
The answer might surprise you.
“My grandmother (the late Elizabeth Sicard) first started working with me,” said Sicard. “She was hard on me. She knew the talent I had.”
The Merrimack Valley Conference soon found out, too. He was sixth man as a freshman and last year started and averaged 10.1 points a game.
The Rangers may have been the youngest team in the state — five of their top six players were sophomores — and they struggled, finishing up at 4-18.
The main culprit was a woeful defense. The Rangers allowed 72.3 points a game to MVC foes.
“That definitely was our problem,” said Sicard, whose cousin and teammate Corey Bell lives with the family. “This year, we’re looking a lot better. We should be a lot better defensively. We just realized defense wins games.”
The much improved defense was on display in a season-opening 58-43 loss to powerful Central Catholic.
If the Rangers continue to play defense like that, they might be the favorites to win a Christmas Tourney title. They are playing in the four-team Hixon Division, the lower tier in the restructured tourney.
“I think my team has a good chance of winning it this year,” he said. “That would be great. Ever since freshman year, that was our goal. Now as juniors we think we can do it.”
Few players are as well acquainted with the 39th annual tourney, which this year has been moved back to Merrimack College. For years when the tourney was at Lawrence High, his sisters took care of the tickets and his parents ran the concessions.
“Usually I’d just go and watch,” said Sicard, who recently turned 17. “I was 6 or 7 years old when I started going. It was great. I always pictured myself hitting the big shot and winning the championship.”
Sicard, who also plays varsity baseball, expects “15 to 20” family members at the tourney.
The Rangers have won just one state tournament game in the past 14 years. Sicard and the other members of Methuen’s promising junior class hope a strong showing in the Commonwealth Classic can kick off a new era in Ranger basketball.
“Us as a junior class think we can go far,” he said. “We think we can win a state title some day as long as we put in the effort and play defense.”
Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.