AMHERST – They all started playing basketball for the Vikings in Grade-9, and now Shaddy Mohamad, Josh Lee and Ryan Thompson are finishing their fourth and final season with the Amherst Regional High School team.
“They’re all four-year guys,” said Vikings coach Matt Gamblin. “They all played on the team in Grade-9 and they’ve all contributed a lot to the program over four years.”
The players won one provincial title in their four years together and Mohamad said it’s been fun playing alongside Lee and Thompson.
“They’re a riot,” said Mohamad.
Mohamad played for several years with his older brother Sammy, and says playing with Sammy wasn’t as much of a riot.
“We had good chemistry but when times got tough he wasn’t afraid to yell,” said the 17-year-old.
All three players experienced the transition from being coached by Reg Caulfield to being coached by Gamblin.
Mohamad said there were pros and cons to the coach change, but seems to be a bigger fan of Gamblin’s low-key approach to coaching.
“One of the pros (of the change) was that you didn’t have Reg Caulfield on your back all the time. He could be pretty tough, which is good and bad,” said Mohamad. “Reg was more of an X and O’s kind of a guy but I think there’s better team chemistry with Matt as a coach. We’ve had a lot of development as a team fundamentally with Matt.”
Mohamad is going to attend the University of New Brunswick next year and will focus on a business degree. He hopes to play intramural basketball at UNB.
Josh Lee intends to attend Oulton College in Moncton next year where he will work towards a degree in policing.
Lee said the transition to new coaches was smooth.
“Matt’s always been around since I was in Grade 9, but as the transition happened Matt played a more dominant role, especially when he became head coach, so the transition was pretty smooth.”
He said he’s played a lot of games and had a lot of practices with both Mohamad and Thompson and said they are all good friends.
“Shaddy and me have always been buddies but basketball really brought me and Ryan together,” said Lee. “We’ll all keep in touch after we graduate.”
“I’ve been playing basketball with Shaddy since Grade-6 and with Josh since Grade-8, so we’ve had some good times,” said Thompson. “We’re pretty close. We’ll still keep in touch.”
Thompson younger brother Blake is also on the team, and Thompson says he has always liked the social aspect of playing basketball.
“Meeting new people at different tournaments and stuff was fun and, as a team, we played a lot of games together, so we’re all pretty close.”
Like Mohamad, Thompson says Caulfield was more of an X and O’s kind of a coach.
“Matt coaches more by the textbook.”
Thompson hopes to attend Holland College where he will study Wildlife Conservation Technology.
“I’ll try out for the basketball team there as well,” said Thompson.
Gamblin said the three players will be missed.
“Their contributions on the court will be missed,” said Gamblin. “And we have a very tight team this year, so the chemistry they bring to the team will be missed as well.”