Senior Chris Capozzoli is no longer the focal point of the North Reading boys basketball team, and he couldn’t be happier.
Neither could Hornets’ coach Joe Casey for that matter. After last year’s frustrating 7-13 season, the 6-foot-6 Capozzoli is just one of the guys in what could turn into a banner season.
With the transfer of 6-4 John Mastascusa from Malden Catholic, where he was a league all-star, and the return to full health of 6-3 Dan Fitzgerald, the Hornets have used good balance while zooming to a 6-0 record. But Casey believes that the additions have made Capozzoli even more effective.
“Chris has been our steadiest contributor all year long,” said Casey. “He’s quietly putting together a great season and has been our unsung hero. Last year, we asked him to do too much.”
A former three-sport athlete at North Reading, having enjoyed success in baseball and football, Capozzoli has been focused on basketball for the last year and a half. We caught up with him to go Around the Horn.
Did you grow up playing basketball with John Mastascusa?
“We started playing travel basketball together in the fourth grade. The whole core of our team started then. We knew we had a pretty good group.”
Were you surprised he transferred back?
“I was. He said last year that he wanted to come back and play with us but I thought it was a joke.”
Is there less pressure on you this year?
“There is less pressure. It’s not that I don’t like being a focal point, but I enjoy having such a balanced offense. Anyone can step up.”
What were your goals coming into the season?
“Definitely to make the state tournament and make it to at least the (Division 3) North finals. Individually, I’d like to average 15 (points) and 10 (rebounds) and be a Cape Ann League All-Star.”
Is it nice having North Andover out of the Cape Ann League, or do you miss not playing them?
“If it was last year, I would have been happy but, with John back, I’d really like to play them. Everybody has them ranked pretty high, in the top 25, and it’d be great to see how we measure up against them.”
When did you give up football and why?
“I gave it up two years ago. I was a quarterback and a new offense was coming in. My uncle is a golf pro (in Florida) and I love golf, so I switched to golf. That also allowed me to spend more time on basketball.”
With North Reading having such a good football season this year, did you miss it?
“There were some Friday nights, when I really wish I was playing and I missed it. But I think I made the right decision.”
What about baseball?
“I played my freshman and sophomore years but I came down with mono last spring and didn’t think I could do it. I might play this year, but I might try track.”
“It would be something different and I think I could run the distances (races). I know I’ll do something. I’m not the type to go home after school and sit around on the couch.”
What’s it like playing for Joe Casey? Some say he can he be pretty strict.
“He’s a good guy and he’s got a good sense of humor. He seems strict, but it’s because he wants us to get better. I’m happy he’s tough on us.”
Do you have other athletes in the family?
“My father (Chris) played some hockey, football and basketball growing up. I have a sister (Alexa) playing basketball (at North Reading) and played varsity soccer as a freshman this year and a younger brother (Matthew) in the sixth grade who plays football, basketball and baseball.”
What are your college plans?
“I’m keeping my options open, but I might go to Worcester Academy. My father and grandfather went there and it would allow me to get my grades up and improve my basketball.”
What’s something that most people don’t know about you?
“That I’m a golfer.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I’ve got to admit that I like playing video games. NBA 2K and NHL are my favorites.”
TV show: Sports Center
Movie: Field of Dreams
Book: “Basketball Junkie” by Chris Herron — I got to meet him one-on-one when he spoke at our school and he signed my book. It’s just an incredible story.
Car: Audi R8
Subject at school: Journalism
Teacher; Mr. (Chris) Sullivan
Boston pro team: Bruins
Athlete: Kevin Durant
Vacation spot: Hawaii