ORR's Jeff Rezendes is S-T's player of the year

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Posted: March 23rd, 2008

ORR's Jeff Rezendes is S-T's player of the year

By Buddy Thomas
Standard-Times senior sports writer
March 23, 2008 6:00 AM

MIKE VALERI/The Standard-Times ORR’s Jeff Rezendes led the area with 19 points per game.mike valer

Steve Carvalho remembers having mixed emotions.

The 2003-04 season had come to an end, but for the longtime assistant coach, a new career was about to begin. When Al Laborante resigned after three seasons as Old Rochester's varsity head coach, Carvalho was named his successor. The boys basketball team hadn't had a winning season since 1998-99 and had qualified for the postseason just three times in seven years thanks to a trio of 10-10 regular-season finishes.

Carvalho's junior varsity teams had suffered through its ups and downs as well, but the 2003-04 season was a good one and the level of the future talent pool was rising. One of the more talented youngsters was a freshman named Jeff Rezendes, who had played a lead role in the success of Carvalho's last JV team.

Carvalho was looking forward to the challange of getting the varsity program back on track. But he also knew he'd have to face that challenge without his up-and-coming star, who was about to transfer to Wareham High.

"On the one hand I was very excited about getting the job and was looking forward to the challenge of trying to turn things around. But, at the same time, I had a hollow feeling about losing Jeff who I thought had a chance to be something special on the basketball court," Carvalho said.

The 2004-05 season proved a struggle for both, as Rezendes played sparingly and scored less than 30 points over Wareham's 20-game regular season while Old Rochester limped through a 4-16 record in Carvalho's first season at the helm.

Not much changed the following season.

While Rezendes enjoyed more playing time, he reached double figures just four times and spent the entire season playing in the shadow of Wareham's one-two scoring punch of Aaron Strothers and Steve Monteiro, who powered the Vikings to a 19-2 regular-season record. Carvalho, on the other hand, watched his Bulldogs struggle to another 4-16 record.

But things were about to turn around for both player and coach.

"I heard rumors that Jeff wanted to transfer back to Old Rochester (because of family reasons) but I never took it serious until I saw him back in school," Carvalho said.

And when the two spoke, the conversation centered around basketball.

"He told me he was coming back to try and help this team win 14 or 15 games," Carvalho said.

With Rezendes leading all area players in scoring (19 ppg), he fulfilled his prophecy by leading Old Rochester to a record of 14-6 — its first winning record of the new millennium.

"It's funny how things worked out," Carvalho said. "When he was here the first time, he was the best player in the ninth grade. After he came back he became one of the best players in the South Coast Conference and the entire area for that matter."

Carvalho only saw Rezendes play four times during his sophomore and junior seasons — in ORR's head-to-head clashes with Wareham — but he saw enough of him this past season to label the 6-0 senior "one of the best all around players I've ever coached.

"He obviously had talent when I saw him as a freshman but since then he's improved his all-around game tremendously," Carvalho said. "His offense is greatly improved because he's spent so much time trying to perfect the outside shot and his jumping ability allows him to score inside and off the offensive boards."

How much of an offensive weapon was the 6-foot senior?

In addition to leading all area scorers, Rezendes reached double figures in all 20 regular-season games, leading or tying for the team lead in scoring in 15 of those outings. His 34 3-point field goals was second to cousin Jordan Rezendes' 39 and his season and career-high point total came in his final regular-season contest when he poured in 29 in a 76-72 victory over visiting Martha's Vineyard.

And his defense was second to none.

"We looked for offense first from Jeff but he's such a good defensive player that we put him on our opponent's biggest offensive threat and more often than not he came up big for us," Carvalho said.

Basketball is the only sport Rezendes plays in high school and according to Carvalho, he's the perfect example of a gym rat.

"If he's not here practicing or playing a game, he's at the Y shooting around or playing in a pick-up game," Carvalho said. "After we'd finish practice, instead of going home to eat supper he'd head for the Y. It got to the point where I'd have to insist he go home and get some rest."

Rezendes hopes to continue playing basketball on the next level but as of now he's undecided where or when that will be.

"We're looking at UMass Dartmouth and prep school is also a possibility," Carvalho said, "but he definitely wants to go on and we're working hard to make sure he does."


The Super Team

Jordan Rezendes, Old Rochester

Guard, Sophomore

The first-year varsity player averaged 14.2 points to finish second behind cousin Jeff Rezendes in the team scoring race. ... "He's a complete player," head coach Steve Carvalho said of the 5-11 shooting guard. ... In addition to drilling a team-high 39 3-point field goals in the regular season, also had more than 20 steals while guarding the opponent's second biggest offensive threat. ... His breakout performance came three games into the season when he scored 23 points and drained six 3-pointers in a 58-54 victory at Dighton-Rehoboth. From that point on Jordan reached twin digits in 16 of his last 18 regular-season contests.

Ryan Pina, Wareham

Center, Sophomore

His head coach, Kevin Broigioli, called the first-year starter "the most gifted low-post player I've ever coached." ... Although he's a long way from reaching his potential, the 6-3 Pina showed extraordinary moves in the low post. ... After struggling a bit offensively through the first four games, led the Vikings to 16 wins over the final 17 regular-season outings by averaging a team-high 14.4 points and leading the team in rebounds. ... The slender lefty hit a career-high 26 points in a 32-point rout of Old Rochester in a game that ignited a 16-game winning streak to end the regular season. ... He also came up big in the postseason when his spinning left-handed layup with less than two seconds left in the game lifted the Vikings to a 53-52 victory over Norwell and into the Division 3 South Sectional championship game.

Billy Dias, GNB Voc-Tech

Forward, Junior

The three-year varsity player continued to show improvement on the offensive end by reaching double figures in 17 of the 19 games he played on his way to averaging a team-leading 16.1 points per outing. ... After starting all 22 regular season games as a sophomore and never scoring more than 16 points in one contest, Dias opened this season with 21 points in a loss to Wareham and scored 20-or-more points in four of his first six games, breaking his career high with a 32-point effort in a rout of Case. ... Was accurate in the low-post area and also showed a nice outside touch with a team-leading 11 3-point field goals. ... Also led his team in rebounds.

C.J. Moss, Westport

Guard, Sophomore

In his first season with the varsity, the poised 6-foot sophomore quickly established himself as the take-charge guy of the offense, finishing the season as the team's leading scorer (just under 15 points a game) and leader in 3-point field goals. ... Was effective from anywhere on the court and kept defenses honest because of his ability to penetrate and dish the ball off to a teammate. ... His most productive outing came in a 104-100 loss to Avon in triple overtime when he scored a career-high 30 points and dopped in a career-best five 3-pointers.

Jordan Todman, Dartmouth

Guard, senior

Having established himself among the state's premier football players, Todman took his basketball game to the next level by leading the Indians in scoring and reaching double figures in 16 of the 20 regular-season contests. ... Season high came in regular-season finale when he poured in 21 points in a four-point loss to Brockton. But scoring was just one element of the veteran guard's game. ... A good ball-handler and deft passer he forced defenders to play off him which gave him opportunities to shoot the open jump shot and his tremendous speed and quick hands made him lethal in defensive pressure situations. ... Todman will attend the University of Connecticut on a football scholarship in the fall.

Justin Mello, Dartmouth

Forward, Junior

It took the all-star wide receiver a little while to make the adjustment from football to basketball, but over the second half of the hoop season, he was arguably the Indians most consistent performer. ... Always at or near the top in rebounding, Mello finally found his shooting touch around the mid-way point of the regular season and reached double figures in eight of the last 10 games. ... His regular-season high was 17 points in a loss at Brockton but his 23 points helped spark the Indians to a five-point win over Mansfield in the opening round of the Division 2 South Sectional Tournament.

BOYS SUPER TEAM

Guard Jordan Rezendes Old Rochester Sophomore

Forward Billy Dias GNB Voc-Tech Junior

Center Ryan Pina Wareham Sophomore

Guard Jordan Todman Dartmouth Senior

Forward Justin Mello Dartmouth Junior

Guard C.J. Moss Westport Sophomore

THE SECOND TEAM

Forward Chris Joyal Apponequet Senior

Guard Steven Monteiro Wareham Senior

Forward Nathan Miller New Bedford Senior

Forward Matt Ranzinger Bishop Stang Senior

Guard Nick Jagoe Westport Senior

Guard Owen Higham Dartmouth Senior

Guard Matt Pacheco Old Colony Senior


Contact Buddy Thomas at bthomas@s-t.com