EASTHAM — The Nauset High boys basketball team is having what could be a historic season, and senior JJ Alger is capturing it all on video.
The Warriors are 16-3, won the Cape & Islands Winter Fest Tournament over Monomoy on Feb. 21, and clinched first place in the Cape & Islands League. It’s the first time the team has won the conference in 15 years.
John McCarthy, now in his tenth season as head coach, achieved his 100th win in Nauset’s 64-57 victory over Plymouth South on Feb. 19. The next day, Nauset was ranked 20th out of 71 teams in the MIAA Boys Basketball Power Rankings for Division II.
Alger, who lives in Brewster, doesn’t play winter sports with Nauset. He plays for the South Shore Kings, a Tier III Junior A ice hockey team that competes in the U.S. Premier Hockey League. But when he’s not on the ice, Alger, with Sony video camera in hand, can be found filming Nauset’s basketball games and locker room moments.
“As a kid, I grew up editing highlight videos of NHL and NBA clips,” Alger told the Independent. “A couple of years ago, I saw that videography of high school sports started getting really popular.”
After Alger got his camera as a Christmas gift in 2020, he set up a page on Instagram and started making videos of games and individual athletes at Nauset and at other schools, too. As he posted more videos, his audience grew. As of Feb. 21, his @algerproductions page had 1,981 followers.
Alger sometimes gets paid to make short highlight videos, but he also makes his films for fun, and for the experience. He’s made clips for some students to send to college coaches and has been asked by a group of parents to create an end-of-year highlight video for the team.
Alger doesn’t procrastinate. He likes to edit his clips as soon as he’s finished covering an event.
“I won’t go to sleep until the video is finished,” he said. He chooses his favorite clips as he sifts through his footage, then he puts the best into his Final Cut Pro software and starts editing.
In the Instagram and TikTok age, highlight videos tend to be short, with quick transitions from one scene to the next, and covered by rap music that fits the fast pace energy of the video.
Alger’s videos usually start slow, with shots of the student athletes on the court before the game or in the locker room. Then the clips gain momentum and showcase team highlights.
In one video, Alger even managed to edit in the “Green Bean” bar as a visual next to Nauset players after they made a jump shot. The bar comes from the popular basketball video game “NBA 2K” and turns green every time it detects a perfect release by the player the gamer is controlling.
Alger said he’s been inspired by Matt Schoen, who makes videos under the name MS Films on TikTok.
Success on the Hardwood
This year’s Nauset boys basketball team is special because it includes nine seniors who have played together since third or fourth grade, with Coach McCarthy at the helm all along.
“The chemistry is unlike many teams that I’ve played against or coached,” McCarthy said. “These players are so close, on and off the court. Just the fact that I can celebrate that with these guys and watch their growth has been incredible.”
All the seniors contribute on a nightly basis, but point guard Jeffrey McCarthy and forward Keleb Daniels Julien are leaders. Jeffrey is John’s son.
Jeffrey is “very smart, very heady,” Coach McCarthy said. “But the engine is Keleb Daniels. Every game, he covers the most difficult player that we’re facing and still contributes 20 points. In my opinion, he’s the best player on Cape Cod because he gets it done on both ends.”
Nauset has just one regular season game left against Nantucket on Thursday.
There’s long been a stigma that Cape high school basketball teams can’t compete with teams over the bridge. Basketball tends to be more competitive in cities and urban areas with larger schools. And historically, Cape teams have not consistently won at the state level. But this year, both Nauset and Nantucket have shown legitimate game on the court, with strong athletes who can compete.
The Warriors are hoping to prove themselves beyond league play when the Division II state tournament begins next week.
“I tried to explain to them that we’re a Cape Cod team,” McCarthy said. “You have to earn respect every time you step on the floor.”
The tournament has a new seeding format this year in which strength of schedule affects how matchups are created, not just wins and losses. Nauset might get a tougher seeding than its record indicates because the Cape & Islands League is not among the most competitive.
McCarthy said he is enjoying every minute of the season. “No matter where it ends, the ride and journey has been so worth it,” he said.
“This year is special because the coach has been with this group of seniors for so long,” Alger said. “They all grew up playing together. I’m close with a lot of them.”
Whatever happens at the tournament, the seniors on this team have been working practically their entire lives for this season, and they’re happy to have Alger filming it for posterity.