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Teams Enter Season With Lofty Goals

Lebanon junior Dominick Morrill leaps up to shoot against Souhegan in semifinals at University of New Hampshire's Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, N.H. on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.
Valley News - Libby March

Lebanon junior Dominick Morrill leaps up to shoot against Souhegan in semifinals at University of New Hampshire's Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, N.H. on Wednesday, March 13, 2013. Valley News - Libby March

For many boys basketball teams in the Upper Valley this season, it’s all about getting to the next level.

The region had no state champions last winter and only one, Rivendell, that reached a title game.

The Raptors will to try to challenge powerhouse Williamstown in Vermont Division III this winter despite losing several contributors to graduation and bringing in a new coach in Jeff Huntington, who replaces run-and-gun sage Tim Dyke.

Newport returns three starters to a team that reached the New Hampshire Division III semifinals a year ago, while in the same division, Stevens (10-11 last year) will try to get over the proverbial hump with a solid core of returners.

At tiny Mid Vermont Christian, last season’s Upper Valley leading scorer, Austin Sayers, now a senior, will try to help the Eagles get past the D-IV quarterfinals, where they were the No. 2 seed, but lost to No. 7 Arlington a year ago.

A look at the teams:

Hanover

Coach: Tim Winslow (14).

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Last Year: 11-10, lost to Souhegan in first round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Rocco Linehan (G), Matt Robertson (F), Ben Herndon-Miller (G), John Flory (G), Noah Huizenga (F), Evan Greenwald (G); Juniors — Tim O’Rourke (G), Ben Lynch (F), Jack Cavallaro (F).

Who’s New: Senior — Erich Alberta (G); Junior — Jules Evans (G); Sophomore — Dom Linehan (G).

Who’s Gone: Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris, Ryan O’Rourke, Cole Harris, Liam Gantrish.

Strength: Fundamentals.

Weaknesses: Last year, the Marauders lacked overall discipline and turned the ball over too much.

Players to Watch: Flory, Lynch, Linehan.

Toughest Opponents: Lebanon, Pembroke, Souhegan.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “This is a team with no superstars,” Winslow said. “What will be exciting will be to see how they compete as a team. Team concepts will be on display.”

Hartford

Coach: Steve Landon (2).

League: Vermont Division II, Marble Valley League-B.

Last Year: 12-8, lost to Burr & Burton in second round.

Who’s Back: Cameron Gaudette (G), Branson Landon (G), Kyle Perkins (C), Dylan Rice (G), Mitchell Simmons (F), Patrick McGrath (C), Kiefer Harrelson (F).

Who’s New: Seniors — Chris Adams (C), Josh Phipps (G), Mark Knapp (G), Aaron Parker (F); Junior — Connor Brooks (G); Sophomores — Bryce Landon (F), Jacob Perkins (G).

Who’s Gone: Nolan Frechette, Kyle Ruffing, Zack Temple, Taylor Potter, Josh Claflin, Nick Fucci, Justin Devoid.

Strengths: Chemistry, work ethic, basketball IQ.

Weaknesses: lack of experience, especially at the forward positions.

Players to Watch: Gaudette, Branson Landon, Perkins, Brooks.

Toughest Opponents: Union-32, Lyndon, Windsor, Woodstock.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Our group is senior-heavy, but not many of the kids have real experience at the varsity level. All the players have worked very hard in the offseason to prepare themselves for this season,” said Landon. “If everyone can keep a positive attitude and approach our difficult schedule one game at a time, I think we’ll be playing very well at the end of the year.”

Kearsarge

Coach: Nate Camp (5).

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 7-15, lost to Newport in second round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Carter Noordsij (F), Nick Bailey (G); Juniors — James Bromwell (F), Lucas Courser (F); Sophomores — Trent Noordsij (G), Zach Mattos (C).

Who’s New: Seniors — Logan Maville (G), Bobby Lauster (F), Michael Simon (G); Juniors — Matt Roy (G), Eric Morin (F); Sophomores — Mike Sullivan (G), Jack Van Etten (G).

Who’s Gone: Ollie Gallo, Casey Laughinghouse, Peter Allen.

Strengths: Speed, intensity.

Weaknesses: Lack of significant varsity time for many players.

Players to Watch: “That’s to be determined at this point,” Camp said.

Toughest Opponents: Conant, Hopkinton, Newport.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Defense and rebounding will need to set the tone,” said Camp. “Our senior captains will provide great leadership and a hunger to improve each day in practice.”

Lebanon

Coach: Kieth Matte (17).

League: New Hampshire Division II.

Last Year: 17-6, lost to Souhegan in semifinals.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Kalin Sou (G), Martin Gradijan (G), Austin Pelletier (F), John Cioffredi (C), Nic Shepherd (G/F), Dom Morrill (G/F), Gage Young (F); Sophomores — Austin Whaley (G), Greg Roberge (G).

Who’s New: Braden Estes (G/F), Sam Ryder (F), Noah Mayes (F), Cooper Lytle (C), Kevin Vorchak (G).

Who’s Gone: David Hampton, Matt Cowles, Greg Grant, Vincent Guerin, Dylan Cox.

Strength s: Depth.

Weakness es: Lack of height.

Players to Watch: Sou, Whaley.

Toughest Opponents: Pembroke, Hanover.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “After graduating David Hampton and three other important seniors, we have a team without experienced ball handling, and we don ’t have much height,” Matte said. “Our schedule is very difficult, but if we can weather the storm early and continue to improve we have the potential to be very good.”

Mascoma

Coach: Jim Barry (5).

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 14-8, lost to Berlin in quarterfinals.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Justin Marsh (G), Kyle Kosiorek (G), Ethan Neily (F), Matt Quow (C); Juniors — Andrew Cash (G), Walt Hammond (C).

Who’s New: Senior — Drew Burse (C/F); Juniors — Kyle Wilson (F), Zach Pequida (G); Sophomores — Jason Sweet (G/F), Will Morrison (F); Freshman — Alex Schwartz (G).

Who’s Gone: Adam Dutille.

Strengths: Speed, size.

Weakness es: Ball handling skills.

Players to Watch: Cash, Schwartz, Marsh.

Toughest Opponents: Newport, Stevens, Hopkinton, Hanover.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We’re hoping to improve every week and play our best at the end of the season,” said Barry. “I hope they work hard and come together as a team to overcome our lack of experience.”

Mid Vermont Christian

Coach: Brian Sayers (5).

League: Vermont Division IV.

Last Year: 16-6, lost to Arlington in quarterfinals.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Anthony LaPlaca (G), Joe Zhou (G), Shane Li (F), Austin Sayers (F); Juniors — Ben Chen (G), James Horner (G), Panda Su (F), James King (F), Liam Cusack (C).

Who’s New: Junior — Chris Schmidt (G/F); Sophomore — Thomas Weiler (G).

Who’s Gone: Peter Li, Jonah McPherson, Wyat Sherman, Eric Lee.

Strengths: Defense, speed, experience.

Weaknesses: Eagles much shoot and protect the ball better.

Players to Watch: Sayers, Li, Weiler, LaPlaca, Zhou.

Toughest Opponents: Rochester, West Rutland, Chelsea, Sharon.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We will have more balanced scoring this year, with improved outside shooting. We’ll be more flexible and versatile on offense and defense. Even with a tougher schedule, we’re looking to improve on last year’s 16-win total,” said Sayers.

Newport

Coach: Steve Lavolpicelo (4).

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 19-2, lost to Conant in semifinals.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Jason Teeter (G), Ricky Hammond (G); Juniors — Andrew Houde (G), Spencer Coronis (G), Derrick Pare (F), Zach Whalen (F), Tom Hogan (G); Sophomores — Eric Bailey (F), Noah Wade (G), CJ Lawrence (F).

Who’s New: Senior —Guenter Hubert (F), Matt Bocko (G); Sophomore — Chris Perry (G); Freshman —Ty Richardson (G).

Who’s Gone: Peter Wacholtz, Devin Wade.

Strengths: Back court, shooting ability.

Weakness es: Rebounding.

Players to Watch: Houde, Cornois, Pare, Whalen.

Toughest Opponents: Hopkinton, Stevens, Mascoma, Sunapee, Fall Mountain, Kearsarge.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We play together, and with toughness and heart,” said Lavolpicelo.

Oxbow

Coach: Mike Maxwell (1).

League: Vermont Division III, Capital League.

Last Year: 4-17, lost to Thetford in first round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Jonny Ratel (G), Hunter Torrey (G), Quinten Mahikoa (F/C); Juniors — Anthony Giesing (F), Matt Thomson (G).

Who’s New: Juniors — Hunter Page (G), Miles Garone (G); Sophomores — Chris Underhill (C), Hayden Tomlinson (F/C), Nick Grant (F), Nick Daigle (F); Freshman — Joseph Ward (C).

Who’s Gone: Caleb Lafaille, Andrew Lyman, Jobin Messenger, Lucas Wheeler.

Strengths: Quickness, inside presence.

Weakness: Lack of sufficient fundamental skills.

Players to Watch: Ratel, Giesing, Mahikoa.

Toughest Opponents: Union-32, Rivendell, Thetford.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We’re getting better and making progress,” said Mitchell. “We’re working hard every single day. We could surprise some people this year.”

Rivendell

Coach: Jeff Huntington (1).

League: Vermont Division III, Central Vermont League.

Last Year: 18-5, lost to Williamstown in semis.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Cole Stever (G), Josh Marshall (F), Nate Eastman (G), Luke Bell (G), Cody Williams (F), Scott Calhoun (G); Juniors — Kolin Huntington (G), Shamus Payton (C).

Who’s New: Sophomores — Zach Gray (F), Ryan Langraf (F).

Who’s Gone: Jack Steketee, Dalton Thayer, Logan Gardyne.

Strengths: Front court, experience, ball handling, speed.

Weakness es: Defense.

Players to Watch: Eastman, Huntington.

Toughest Opponents: Williamstown, Thetford, Twinfield, Twin Valley.

Etc.: Jeff Huntington, a Piermont resident, was a 1,000-point scorer at Orford High before graduating in 1983.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “A lot of the guys have been around for 3-4 years and are ready to go for it this year,” said Huntington.

Sharon Academy

Coach: Blake Fabrikant (5).

League: Vermont Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Last Year: 11-10, lost to West Rutland in first round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Ben Hayslett (G), Cotey Anderegg (F), Ben Gross (G); Juniors — Tanner James (G), Andy Bando-Hess (G), Brandon Tracy (C), Camden Morrison (F); Sophomore — Jay Knoerlein (G).

Who’s New: Seniors — Stephen Davis (G), Wyatt Blanchard (F), Stephen Usher (G); Juniors — Austin Oliver (G), Ethan Silovich (C).

Who’s Gone: Trenton Morrison (graduated), Andy Rudell (knee injury).

Strengths: Speed, athleticism.

Weaknesses: Lack of size, outside shooting ability.

Players to Watch: “Everyone we have on the floor will have the capability to lead us in scoring on any given night,” Fabrikant said.

Toughest Opponents: Williamstown, Rivendell.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Last year we eclipsed the .500 mark for the first time in a few years and with our core still intact, we are going to continue this upward progression,” said Fabrikant.

South Royalton

Coach: Pete Howe (1).

League: Vermont Division III, Central Vermont League.

Last Year: 6-15, lost in first round of D-IV tourney to United Christian.

Who’s Back: Seniors —Nate Moore (G), Alex Berk (F/G), Hunter Brock (F), David Ballou (F), Matt Fifield (F/C); Juniors — Sam Berk (G), Keanan Thompson (F/C).

Who’s New: Seniors — Guss Wing (F/C), Raven Hudson (F); Sophomores — McKinley George (G), Jake Kinnarney (F), William Wuttke (C); Freshman — Nicholas Howe (G).

Who’s Gone: Ian Kinnarney, Darren Cilley, Ben Vesper.

Strengths: Speed, athleticism, basketball IQ.

Weaknesses: With their fourth coach in four years, the Royals are starving for continuity.

Players to Watch: Moore, Sam Berk, Kinnarney.

Toughest Opponents: Hazen, Rivendell, Danville.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “Our excitement and enthusiasm levels are high right now. We’re looking forward to bringing some cohesiveness to the unit. We’re upbeat and optimistic,” said Howe.

Stevens

Coach: Scott MacNamee (4).

League: New Hampshire Division III.

Last Year: 10-11, lost to Campbell.

Who’s Back: Ryan Tanguay (F), Jordan Haines (G), Donald Pellerin (G), Nate White (F), Dorian Boldin (C); Juniors — John Milan (C), Daniel Croteau (G); Sophomores — Tyler Haines (G).

Who’s New: Juniors — Chase Hussey (G), Briar Rouillard (G); Freshmen — Parker Smith (G), Rich Bell (G).

Who’s Gone: Billy Brooks, Trey Dansereau, Logan Batchelder.

Strength s: Perimeter play.

Weakness es: Rebounding.

Players to Watch: Haines, Tanguay, White.

Toughest Opponents: Conant, Newport

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “This team has a lot of potential if they can come together, play hard and commit to executing in the half court,” said MacNamee.

Thetford

Coach: Blendon Salls (1).

League: Vermont Division III, Capital League.

Last Year: 19-5, lost to Williamstown in final.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Jordan Eastman (G); Juniors — Brandon Gray (G).

Who’s New: Seniors — Randy Snelling (C/F), Colby Richardson (G), Cody McCusker (F/C), Kip Haviland-Hack (F); Juniors — Matt Perry (G/F), Kyle Bowen (G/F), Noaln Howard (G), Cole Chapman (C/F), Matt Sonnhalter (F).

Who’s Gone: Ian Weider, Dominic Chatot, Aidan Cleaves.

Strength s: Backcourt.

Weaknesses: Lack of size, varsity experience.

Players to Watch: Gray, Eastman, Perry.

Toughest Opponents: Union-32, Williamstown, Rivendell.

Etc.: Salls spent the last 11 years as an assistant with the Lebanon High boys team.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “The kids are meshing with some new ideas and a new system, but they’re working hard to buy into the philosophy,” said Salls.

Whitcomb

Coach: David Fisher (1).

League: Vermont Division IV, Central Vermont League.

Last Year: 2-18, missed playoffs.

Who’s Back: Senior — Bradford Allen; Juniors — Brian Schumann (F/C), Ethan Scott (C); Sophomore — Harrison Allen (G).

Who’s New: Senior — Scott Nickerson (F); Juniors — Keinan Strong (G); Sophomores — Spencer Taylor (F), Andrew Davis (G), Jeremy Blanchard (G); Freshmen — Zach Gillette (G/F), Marcus Sheldon (C).

Who’s Gone: Steve Davis, Caleb Chase, Lyndon Flint.

Strengths: Speed, athleticism.

Weaknesses: Lack of height, defense.

Players to Watch: Allen brothers, Taylor, Gillette.

Toughest Opponents: Williamstown, Rochester, Sharon, Rivendell.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “This team has a lot of a new players and a new coach,” Fisher said. “We play our first five games on the road, which is going to be a difficult stretch, but I think we can be a good team toward the end of the season.”

Windsor

Coach: Harry Ladue (31).

League: Vermont Division III, Marble Valley League-B.

Last Year: 7-14, lost to BFA-Fairfax in first round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Ethan Hill (F), Tyson Boudro (G), Kyle Cardillo (G), Ezra Richardson (F); Junior — Russell Simmons (G); Sophomores — Mike Bradley (C), Nick Kapuscinski (F).

Who’s New: Juniors — Blaine Ingalls (G), Isaiah Bates (F); Sophomore — Jacob Meagher (G).

Who’s Gone: Tanner Tibbits, Shawn Pinsonault, Luke TanCreti.

Strengths: Experience, maturity.

Weakness es: Lack of experience off the bench.

Players to Watch: Hill, Boudro. “But we will need all of our returning players to contribute,” Ladue said.

Toughest Opponents: D-I Brattleboro and the entire MVL-B schedule.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “We hope to compete and give ourselves a chance to win every night,” said Ladue.

Woodstock

Coach: Jeff Thomas (3).

League: Vermont Division II, Marble Valley League-C.

Last Year: 11-10, lost to Fair Haven in first round.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Dougie Avellino (G), Bradley Lewis (F); Juniors — Connor Fegard (F), Nehemiah Wood (F), Chris Townley (F); Sophomores — Hunter McDonough (G), Dylan McDonough (G).

Who’s New: Junior — Riley Powers (G); Sophomores — Mason Thompson (G), Teo Simpson (G), Curran McDonald (G), Alex Crompton (G).

Who’s Gone: James Morgan, Reid Langona.

Strength s: Chemistry.

Weakness es: Lack of sufficient varsity experience.

Players to Watch: “We’re a balanced team,” Thomas said. “On any given night, it could be someone different providing the spark.”

Toughest Opponents: Hartford, Windsor.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “I am very excited about this year’s team,” said Thomas. “They all like each other and are improving every day. We’re looking forward to a fun journey this winter.”

Woodsville

Coach: Jamie Walker (14).

League: New Hampshire Division IV.

Last Year: 4-14, missed playoffs.

Who’s Back: Seniors — Tom D’Angelo (F), Joe Abrahamsen (F); Juniors — Michael Lloyd (F); Ryan Olsen (F), Jake Pushee (F), Dan Abrahamsen (G), Jamie LoCascio (G); Sophomores — Derek Maccini (G), Jaret Bemis (G).

Who’s New: Senior — Dan Whitney (F); Juniors — Skylar Clough (F), Anthony Guida (G); Freshman — Sam Pushee (F).

Who’s Gone: Kevin Briggs, Irva Barnes.

Strength s: Experience.

Weaknesses: Defense, ball security.

Players to Watch: Joe Abrahamsen, D’Angelo.

Toughest Opponents: Profile, Littleton, Colebrook, Groveton.

Coach’s Final Thoughts: “It’s been a while since we had a top eight seed in the playoffs, so we’d like to shoot for that this year,” Walker said.