A year ago, the disparity in Cape Ann boys basketball was obvious.
On one end of the spectrum, there was Manchester Essex, a local power whose 19-3 record was hardly surprising.
On the other side, there were Gloucester and Rockport. The Fishermen and Vikings went 1-19 and 1-17, respectively, in a forgettable campaign for each program.
As the three local teams set off on a new campaign this week, though, Gloucester and Rockport are intent on closing that gap.
Both squads will return a wealth of experience, as Rockport has its entire roster from a year ago back and many of the Fishermen’s key players -- including leading scorer senior Jason Vizena -- will return.
And while the experience each roster will carry with it isn’t the kind that coaches hope for, there’s something to be said for the impact the bitter taste of a forgettable season can have.
“I’m very happy so far,” Gloucester coach Bill Cahill said. “It was a rough year for us last year, but we’ve got a lot of guys back and we got some experience.”
As they did last season, the Fishermen will lean on their two-year captain in Vizena. Last season, though, Cahill said Vizena had to “do it all” for his squad.
This season, that looks like it’ll be different. Vizena will be back at his natural spot as a shooting guard, as talented sophomore Jeff Oliveria will take over point guard duties.
With depth across the board provided by the likes of Conor Adkins, Austin Davis, Andrew Muniz and Drew Shairs and top-to-bottom speed, Cahill’s hoping to surprise opponents with an in-your-face, up-tempo style when they open their season against Saugus on Thursday (7:00).
“I’ve got enough guys that I can go with a 10-deep rotation,” Cahill said. “Since I can go 10-deep, we can press and we can run. We’re young, so we’re going to have some growing pains, but with Jason leading the way, I think we’ll surprise some people.”