Doherty Another Top-notch Hoop Coach Linked To Holliston Led Wayland To Division 2 Sectional TitleJan 01, 2021 11:44AM ● By Ken Hamway
Coach Dennis Doherty with his wife Ingrid and children (Bridget and Colin).
The town of Holliston has had two of the most dynamic high school basketball coaches in Tri Valley League history — the late Tom Keough and Bill “Whitey’’ Davis.
Keough, who guided the Panthers to a plethora of league championships and the State title in 1964, was a native of Millis and a resident of Franklin. Davis, whose Dover-Sherborn squads dominated the late 1960s and much of the 1970s, lived in Holliston during his tenure as the Raiders’ coach. He later became the head coach at Gordon College.
The 2019-2020 Wayland High basketball team captured the Division 2 Central Sectional crown.
Davis, who’s retired and now living in Rockport, was inducted into Dover-Sherborn’s athletic Hall of Fame in its initial year. And, if Holliston High had a hall of fame, Keough would no doubt be a charter member. His name is always prevalent when the Panthers host their annual basketball tourney — the Keough Classic.
A third basketball coach connected to Holliston is Dennis Doherty whose credentials are impressive and his coaching ability might be one of the town’s best-kept secrets.
The 46-year-old Doherty, who’s lived in Holliston for the last eight years, has been Wayland High’s head coach for 12 seasons. His teams have qualified for the playoffs nine times, and last March, when his Warriors won the Division 2 Central Sectional crown, was one of the most complete and successful coaching efforts in the state.
Before Wayland opened its season, it lost two top players — Jaden Brewington and Jabari Nurse — to private schools. And, after the team’s first three games, its record was 0-3.
Doom and gloom prevailed in Wayland, especially since the Warriors compete in the challenging Dual County League against the likes of Concord-Carlisle, Acton-Boxboro, Lincoln-Sudbury and Boston Latin.
“The talk was all about the players we lost,’’ Doherty recalled. “It wasn’t about who we had. The players took that to heart and felt they had a lot to prove.’’
Doherty, who played on Wayland’s State title team in 1991, challenged his squad in the Hutchinson Memorial Tournament in Bellingham. “I stressed to our seniors that they had to play a notch higher,’’ he emphasized. Wayland split two games, losing to Hopedale by two and beating Blackstone Mayoral Prep by a considerable margin.
Next up was Concord-Carlisle, a powerhouse team. Wayland beat them, 68-63, and caught fire the rest of the way, rolling to a regular-season record of 11-7. The Warriors were motivated and their enthusiasm paid dividends in the Sectional. They defeated, in order, Groton-Dunstable, Nashoba and Hopkinton for the title. In the first round of the State playoffs, they led Taconic (Pittsfield) by five with five minutes remaining but foul trouble hurt them and they lost, 62-56.
“The Sectional championship showed how resilient, gritty and unified our team was,’’ Doherty said. “It was a great thrill and it was a joy to coach those 14 players. They were a special team and I was very proud of them.’’
Doherty’s roots run deep in Wayland. A native of Brighton, his family moved to Wayland when he was three. He played point guard for the Warriors for two seasons and posted some quality numbers, averaging 10 points and six assists as a junior and 15 points and eight assists as a senior.
“Beating Holyoke Catholic for the Division 3 State title still is very memorable,’’ he noted. “We advanced by beating Mission High of Boston in the North Sectional. It was a happy time because the team was close-knit and all the players had been together since Grade 3.’’
At Wheaton College, he played four seasons and averaged 15 points and eight assists his senior year. Wheaton qualified for the ECAC Tournament twice during his tenure there.
Graduating in 1996 with a major in religion and philosophy, Doherty first worked as a paralegal for five years but in 2001 he was hired at Arlington Catholic where he taught theology and worked in guidance. He coached freshman basketball for three seasons there and later coached the frosh squad at Weston High for four years. While still at Arlington Catholic, he became the interim varsity coach at Weston for the 2007-08 season.
“The varsity post at Wayland opened and I had a difficult decision to make,’’ Doherty said. “I enjoyed my time at Weston but I felt it was a good time to return to Wayland. I had my masters in school counseling and was hired as a guidance counselor and head coach.’’
Doherty is delighted he returned to his roots in Wayland but he feels strongly that he’s developed roots in Holliston. His two children — Bridget (13) and Colin (10) — attend Holliston schools and both play youth basketball for the travel team. Colin plays youth soccer and Bridget competes at tennis camps. His wife, Ingrid, has served on the Newcomers Club and has volunteered at the Miller Elementary School.
“I love Holliston,’’ Doherty said. “We’re very comfortable here. The town’s center is quaint with its small shops and it has nice parks and playgrounds.’’
As time passes, Doherty seems to be gaining notice in Holliston for his coaching acumen. “My neighbors know I coach at Wayland and so often my kids wear Wayland shirts to practices. When parents of players find out I coach, they all ask how my team is performing. They’re very supportive and always wish me well.’’
Doherty’s style is definitely linked to his team’s success. He’s calm, rarely gets rattled or upset. “A game has highs and lows, so I try to be calm and steady,’’ he said. “If I’m steady, that rubs off on the players. I also can think clearly if I’m calm.’’
Relying on a competitive philosophy that includes winning and reaching one’s potential, Doherty also stresses the importance of having a positive experience. “I want the kids to work hard, improve and have fun. And, I want them to learn some valuable life lessons, like being resilient and mentally tough, focusing on teamwork and setting goals.’’
No opposing team should take Wayland lightly. The program has talent, tenacity and the right coach guiding the ship.
Tom Keough and Bill “Whitey’’ Davis are legendary coaches with ties to Holliston. They’ve got company now because Dennis Doherty is another dynamic coach with links to Holliston.