New Coach for New-look Chieftains
BOLTON -- When Bryan Riley was hired to replace Danny Ortiz as the new Nashoba Regional boys’ basketball coach, the Chieftains got a man who is familiar with the team and the community.
Most recently, Riley was an assistant coach at WPI, where he focused his time on recruiting players from around the world. Prior to that, the former three-sport athlete from Wachusett Regional coached in the same league as Nashoba as he led the Panthers from Marlboro High.
“I knew Danny (Ortiz) from all those years at Marlboro, so I had a good perspective on the kids and the community,” Riley said. “The culture is really important in high school sports, and Danny did a great job building a winning tradition here at Nashoba.”
While at Marlboro, Riley led the Panthers to a district title and an appearance in the state finals. In addition to team success, while he was the head coach at Marlboro, Riley was also named Massachusetts Basketball Coaches Association Division 2 Central Mass. Coach of the Year in 2015.
Riley enters the 2018 season with a fairly young squad as the only two returning starters are juniors Jack Richard and Andrew Ahlquist. The Chieftains six seniors are Alex Ahlquist, Joshua Bebis, John Duros, Luke McConnell, Danny McNulty and Paul Nyasani.
While a new man might be leading the way, the Chieftains will be built around some of the same core values that Ortiz -- now the head coach of the boys’ basketball team at Fitchburg High -- demanded from his players. Riley would like to see Nashoba be a team built around physical and mental toughness with an emphasis on playing defense and rebounding the basketball.
“The philosophy evolves over time,” Riley said. “I have been lucky to be around a lot of coaches that have helped me. Understanding how to play the game gets lost sometimes, but I am huge on fundamentals and digging in on the defensive end.”
Riley’s Chieftains will look to rebound from an opening night loss to St. John’s as Nashoba suffered a 59-39 defeat on Dec. 6. Andrew Alhquist and Richard each had 10 points for Nashoba.