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Award Speaks Loudly for Raider

Lebanon High School senior David Hampton signs an autograph after scoring his 1,000th point last season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Lebanon High School senior David Hampton signs an autograph after scoring his 1,000th point last season. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

Lebanon — Every basketball game is a talking opportunity for Lebanon High senior David Hampton.

Referees are favorite conversation partners. When the moment arises, Hampton isn’t against a friendly chat about how his play meets the officials’ expectations or how an opposition’s defense is affecting his efforts.

Those meetings leave a lasting memory. Four years of Hampton hellos recently led the New Hampshire chapter of the International Association of Approved Basketball Officials to award Hampton its John E. Burke Sportsmanship Award.

The honor came as a complete surprise to Hampton, who was handed the award by chapter president Dennis Ordway during the Raiders’ recent postseason team banquet.

“I figured, with my mom screaming in the stands all the time, I wouldn’t get a sportsmanship award,” Hampton cracked recently. “With what (Ordway) was saying, I thought he was describing somebody more quiet. I picture myself as more vocal.

“I talk to the refs on the court; not in a bad way, but I talk a lot. I didn’t really think it would be me.”

The award bears the name of Burke, a 33-year high school and college basketball referee who also served as the New Hampshire board’s president. Burke died in 1962, and the state chapter has chosen a recipient of the award ever since.

Hampton ranked fourth in scoring in the Upper Valley this past season, averaging 17.74 points per game over the Raiders’ 17-6 campaign. The guard’s play was a huge part in Lebanon’s most successful season in more than a decade.

Hampton received a plaque from the New Hampshire IAABO. A second will reside at the high school until next year’s winner is selected.

“It’s nice because there’s only one Mr. Basketball, and they have the Burke Award for the kid who conducted himself with the most class,” Lebanon boys basketball coach Kieth Matte said. “It’s an award that I didn’t nominate him for” — the state chapter does that — “and I didn’t know that would happen.

“He caught the eye of the officials as somebody who is honorable in the way he plays basketball. It’s really kind of cool.”

Hampton’s interactions on the court represent simple back-and-forth talk. “It’s not bad stuff, usually good stuff,” the 19-year-old senior said. “It’s what I need to do if I’m creating too much contact, if I need to stay off someone or if I have a problem with what a defense is doing to me, I can go to the refs.

“I think (sportsmanship) is playing in the manner that doesn’t disrespect the game. You have to have respect for the game. It’s really more than a game. There are morals that you have to follow, and it’s really key to follow those.”

Hampton joined the LHS 1,000-point club on Jan. 18, hitting the last 3-pointer of a six-triple night with 11.2 seconds left in a 50-41 win over Milford to reach the plateau. The first boy to join the list since Joe Faucher in 1996, Hampton expects to play basketball in college, with St. Lawrence, Bard, Elmira and Endicott among the potential destinations.

That will give him a new bunch of striped buddies to get to know.

“It comes from all of the years I’ve played basketball,” Hampton said. “I’ve come to love the game, and to not take it for granted.”

The Stars Are Out: A winter in which the Lebanon boys made the state semifinals and the Lebanon girls won an elusive state championship has led the New Hampshire Basketball Coaches Organization to reward the Raiders appropriately on its all-state teams.

Hampton received the expected inclusion on the Division II first team, but Matte earned the second league coach of the year award in his 16 years at the helm. The other came in 1997-98, when Lebanon won its last NHIAA state championship in his first season as coach.

“That’s a special award, when you’re being recognized by people who truly understand all that we do and how hard we work,” Matte said. “We’re not satisfied — we had another game to play — but it was a good year. A lot of fun.”

The D-II all-state squad also included second-team recognition for Hanover High senior Cyrus Rothwell-Ferraris (13.62 ppg) and honorable mention for Lebanon junior Dominick Morrill (10.30 ppg; team-high 15 points in state semis).

Senior Moriah Morton, the engine behind the Raider girls’ undefeated state championship run, was chosen by the NHBCO as Division II’s player of the year. Morton finished second in the Upper Valley in scoring, her 17.17 points per game while serving as the foundation for Lebanon’s perfect run.

Morton was joined on the all-state first team by Lebanon senior guard Emily Kehoe (16.26, ranked third in region), with junior teammate Heather King (10.38 ppg) landing on the honorable mention unit. Hanover freshman guard Lexie Hamilton (10.76 ppg) excelled in her rookie season to make the second team, one of just two freshmen to receive D-II all-state notice from the NHBCO.

Other Upper Valley players to make New Hampshire all-state hoop teams:

∎ Division III boys: First team — Andrew Houde, Newport (22.22 ppg, ranked second in region); honorable mention — Adam Dutille, Mascoma (13.41 ppg); Billy Brooks, Stevens (14.57 ppg, limited to 14 games by injuries).

∎ Division III girls: Honorable mention — Anna Cahill, Kearsarge (12.35 ppg); Kori Kosiorek, Mascoma (8.09 ppg).

∎ Division IV girls: Honorable mention — Tiarra Beatrice (8.36 ppg) and Chrissy Valliant (9.64 ppg), Woodsville.

Twin State Comeback? Maybe: While nothing has been cast in stone yet, the NHBCO has agreed to discuss a proposal from its Vermont counterparts to revive the Twin State Basketball Classic, a summertime contest pitting the state’s top senior boys and girls that fell by the wayside three years ago.

Once known as the Alhambra Classic and staged at Plymouth State University, a group of Vermont coaches took to organizing the July event in recent years at the University of Vermont, going so far as to line up sponsors to defray costs. Vermont has made recent overtures to the NHBCO in hopes of getting the contest going again, but without setting a date or location.

According to Matte, New Hampshire’s lack of interest in the games brought the contests down in 2010.

“To be quite frank, Vermont does a great job with it,” Matte noted. “They had the sponsors, and they treated us like kings. Vermont took it more seriously than we did. … Interest dwindled on the New Hampshire side, but it was a lot of fun.”

After more than two decades at Plymouth, the games moved to UVM in 2002 and remained there until the shutdown after the 30th edition of the doubleheader in 2010. New Hampshire’s girls won seven of the nine contests staged at Patrick Gymnasium, while Vermont’s boys took five, including the final three. The Granite State held an 18-12 edge in both halves of the 30-year series when it met its demise.

NHBCO president Gary Noyes said he’s open to talking about a revival.

“I am cautiously optimistic that we will have the games back this year,” NHBCO president Gary Noyes wrote in an email last week. “Both sides are going to meet and figure out the logistics of having the games.”

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.