A first-year athletic director, a young hockey team and a school under historic construction could be mistaken for signs of a rebuilding sports program.

But those obstacles did not stop Somerville High School. The Highlanders sent three winter teams – boys and girls basketball and boys hockey – to the postseason. For new athletic director Stanley Vieira, the success is a testament to the community’s perseverance.

"Not once did I hear anybody complain," Vieira. "They have been resilient – no excuses, no problems."

Students and coaches certainly had opportunities to make excuses. The basketball teams hosted no home games this season, with the construction of the new Somerville High School going on. "Home" games were played at Bunker Hill Community College. The foreign courts and increased travel posed a serious challenge.

"We had every excuse in the world we could have used as far as not having a home gym," said boys basketball head coach Mark Antonelli, "but these kids never looked for one. They’re just great kids."

The Somerville boys (11-10) were the 11th seed in Division 2 North, and they faced Billerica (13-7, sixth seed) in a first-round game on Feb. 24. The Indians defeated the Highlanders, 66-47.  

Girls basketball, in addition to its dealings with the construction, also faced numerous on-court obstacles to overcome. Head coach Sheila Freitas-Haley highlighted the squad’s narrow losses – four one-possession defeats to Everett, Waltham Peabody and Lowell – as examples of its deserved place in the state tournament, despite an 8-12 record.

"The record’s not indicative of the work that they’ve done," she said.

The girls were seeded 13th, and faced fourth-seeded Wilmington (16-5) in the first round of the Division 2 North tourney. The Wildcats ended up winning the close contest, 58-49 on Feb. 26.

On paper, the matchup looked imposing. But Freitas-Haley believed her players had developed an attention to detail through film and scout sessions. "We do a lot of game film analysis," she said.

Kevin Wilson has been the boys hockey coach for the past five years, with the team’s success steadily growing each season. This year, he worked to help a team with only three seniors overcome the physical and psychological challenges of youth. At 10-7-3, the Highlanders are a solid No. 8 seed in the Division 3 North tournament. They took on Lowell (10-7-4), the ninth seed, at the Stoneham Arena on Feb. 27, losing the battle, 5-0 in a first-round game.

"We have a very young team this year," Wilson said. "They would have a game where they grow up [into varsity players] and another game where they’re selfish. But I talk to coaches around the league, and they all say, ‘That’s just teenage boys for you.’"

Wilson emphasized the close-knit bond he has formed with his players after watching them grow together in youth leagues, saying "they know my coaching style, and they know what I expect." That togetherness exemplifies a school-wide initiative to build continuity with youth and middle school programs.

Vieira envisions Somerville youth sports as a "feeder system" of sorts that helps youth coaches prepare young student-athletes for high school success.

"It’s saying, ‘Here’s what I would really love for you to teach,’ so by the time the students get to the high school, they’re ready to go," he said.

As the developing youth rise through the school system, the X-factor for Somerville High’s future becomes the fabled state-of-the-art athletic facility. Vieira and the coaches championed the blueprint that will include multiple basketball courts for simultaneous practices, modern strength and conditioning rooms and new resources for the athletic trainers.

The school is cautiously optimistic that next winter will see the return of home contests. But the current task is to build a winning culture that is ready to compete in an exciting new space.

"[It’s about] getting that groundwork and foundation, so that this is sustainable for years to come," Freitas-Haley said.

This semester, the Somerville Journal is teaming up with Boston University to support student journalism. This story was produced by a Boston University student.