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Winter HS preview: Boys hoop teams back for a regular run

  • Thetford Academy basketball coach Jason Gray talks to his team during practice on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 in Thetford, Vt. The varsity and junior varsity teams practice together. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Jennifer Hauck

  • Dempsey McGovern, left, and Zander Clark surround Brady Sloop with Alex Kim on the right during a practice on Tuesday, Dec., 7, 2021, in Thetford. The varsity and junior varsity teams practice together. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Thetford Academy's Boone Fahey, left, and Zander Clark run through practice on Tuesday, Dec., 7, 2021, in Thetford, Vt. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Jennifer Hauck

  • Nyeoti Punni, 17, warms up with the Lebanon High School basketball team during practice in Lebanon, N.H., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. The Raiders are defending state champions and are the only D-II team in the NHIAA wearing masks this season in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

  • Gerad Thornton, 17, passes the ball to C.J. Childs, left, during Lebanon High School basketball practice in Lebanon, N.H., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — James M. Patterson

  • Lebanon basketball Head Coach Kieth Matte brings his team together urging them to make the most of their practice in Lebanon, N.H., on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 as they go into a busy game schedule beginning Friday with a game against Pembroke Academy. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/17/2021 9:40:10 PM
Modified: 12/17/2021 9:40:07 PM

Across the Upper Valley, most boys basketball teams had to play condensed and modified schedules in 2020-21 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This season will see a return to normal competition.

Lebanon is riding high from last season, when the Raiders pulled off an undefeated state championship campaign.

They’ll look to make it two titles in a row, as they return some key pieces of that team.

Hanover, Mascoma, Rivendell and White River Valley also bring important returnees and will shoot for deeper playoff runs.

Newport, Woodstock and Sharon sport new coaches this year, and Mid Vermont Christian is back after a one-year hiatus.

HANOVER

Coach: Tim Winslow (22)

Last Year: 7-5, lost in first round of playoffs

League: NHIAA Division II

Returnees: Seniors: Max Galbraith (G), Kevin Pillsbury (F), Collin Pierce (F), Trevor Pierce (F), Jacob Kubik-Pauw (G), Mason Gantrish (G), Evan Yang (G).

Newcomers: Seniors: James Kirkpatrick (F), Blake Hooper Goetinick (F). Juniors: Forrester Avard (F), Augie Krawitt (G).

Analysis: Winslow returns over half of his team from 2020-21. Hanover finished last season in disappointing fashion, losing its final four games, including playoffs, after starting 7-1. They’ll look to bounce back this year.

“We have a nucleus of returning players that understand the demanding work that they need to put in to be successful,” Winslow said. “Defense will be the strength of this team.”

HARTFORD

Coach: Jeff Thomas (3)

Last Year: 7-3, lost in first round of playoffs

League: VPA Division II

Returnees: Seniors: Tarin Prior (G), Jacob Seaver (F), Brandon Potter (G). Sophomore: Brody Tybursi (F).

Newcomers: Seniors: Jaiden Keefe (F), Dan Adams (F). Juniors: Joey Beggs (G), Ian Murphy (F). Sophomores: Brayden Trombly (G), Sean Dunton (G), Christian Hathorn (G), Brady Olmstead (G). Freshmen: Ayodele Lowe (G).

Analysis: The Hurricanes graduated six seniors from 2020-21 and field a younger team this year. Tarin Prior (18.1 ppg last year) returns, however, and Hartford will rely on him this year. Thomas said Ian Murphy has looked good early in the season and could play an important role as well.

“We will need to depend on our senior leadership,” Thomas said. “We have three of the five seniors that played several minutes last season. Like a lot of teams, we will go as far as they are able to take us and how helpful they are in moving along our underclassmen.”

LEBANON

Coach: Kieth Matte (23)

Last Year: 15-0, state champions

League: NHIAA Division II

Returnees: Seniors: Jackson Stone (F), Nyeoti Punni (F), Braeden Falzarano (G), Cole Fabry (G), C.J. Childs (F), Zach Whitcomb (F), Blake Boardman (F). Junior: Gerad Thornton (C),

Newcomers: Senior: Krists Putans (F). Juniors: Dawson Bates (G), Sam Bates (G), Chris Perriello (F), Sophomores: Nick Brill (G), Talan Patkul (G), Chase Adams (C).

Analysis: After the 2020 Raiders’ title hopes were thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, they left no doubts in 2021. Falzarano (11.1 ppg) and Stone (10 ppg) were two of Lebanon’s four players to average double-digit points per game last year. They return looking for similar success this season.

“We will need to gain experience as we play,” Matte said.

MASCOMA

Coach: Silas Ayres (3)

Last Year: 10-5, lost in quarterfinals of playoffs

League: NHIAA Division III

Returnees: Seniors: Ben Seiler (G), Cole Moulton (G), Ian Moulton (F), Allan Hammond (F). Junior: Zach Thompson (G).

Newcomers: Senior: Michael Ioynds (G). Sophomores: James Thomas (G), Tyler Stark (F), Tyler-Jay Mardin (F), Aiden Smith (G), Thomas Clifford (F), Cayden Marquay (G). Freshman: Tanner Moulton (G)

Analysis: The Royals have a solid core of seniors to mold this year’s team around. However, they’ll be without Ben Seiler (21.5 ppg last year) until the end of December as he recovers from an injury suffered during soccer season. That will pose an early challenge for Mascoma.

“One of the better backcourts in the state in my mind with Ben Seiler and Zach Thompson,” Ayres said. “Really deep at the guard position. We lack size and need to find a way to rebound. I think we will compete in every game no matter who we play. We need the sophomore group to step up and contribute if we want to be good.”

MID VERMONT CHRISTIAN

■Coach: Erva Barnes (2)

■Last Year: Didn’t play in 2020-21

■League: VPA Division IV

Returnees: Junior: Joel Roberts (G). Sophomore: Abel Goodwin (G).

Newcomers: Junior: Roman Goeppner (F). Freshmen: Carson Meloon (G), Jaden Goeppner (G), Noah Patel (F). Eighth-grader: Treyton Slarve (F).

Analysis: MVCS takes the court for the first time since the 2019-20 season, when the Eagles went 9-9 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. But the bulk of that team is gone now, as this year’s squad is short on depth and experience. That creates obvious challenges, but Barnes thinks the team can compete.

“Young team with a small roster,” Barnes said. “Team has great dynamics, excellent athleticism and talent on the team. Should be a competitive year.”

NEWPORT

Coach: Rob Clark (1)

Last Year: 0-7, lost in first round of playoffs

League: NHIAA Division III

Returnees: Seniors: Jayden Conroy (G, captain), Devyn Heino (F/C). Juniors: Owen Beaulieu (G), Gary Dodge (F), Karter Joseph Pollari (F/C). Sophomores: Malachy Regan (F).

Newcomers: Sophomores: Nick Daignault (C), Tyler Patenaude (G/F). Freshman: Aaron Fellows (F/C). Freshmen: Gabe Howe (G), Connor Johnson (G), Christian Forsythe (F), Kamdon Pollari (F).

Analysis: Clark takes over a Tigers program that has won just two games in the last two seasons combined. He knows it’s a rebuilding year at Newport.

“Looking to establish a sound basketball foundation and work hard to compete in the long term defensively and offensively,” Clark said. “Our goal is to consistently improve and be competitive in each contest.”

OXBOW

Coach: Justin Smith (2)

Last Year: 1-10, lost in first round of playoffs

League: VPA Division III

Returnees: Seniors: Andrew Emerson (F). Juniors: Chase Lund (G). Sophomores: Brady Nichols (F).

Newcomers: Sophomores: Isaiah Beauregard (G), Mather Corti (G), Reese Ilsley (G), Tyler Marsh (G), Otis Brochu (F). Freshmen: Zadian Walton (F), Garrett Danforth (F), Oden Schlager (F)

Analysis: The Olympians field an extremely young squad this season, heavy on underclassmen in their first varsity seasons. Bryce Ilsley (24.5 ppg last year) is gone, leaving a big void. Oxbow returns three starters, but will have to rely on those young players to compete in games. Smith is hoping that the experience those players will get this season will help the program down the road.

“We will struggle to find wins, but hope to compete in the second half of our schedule to prepare for a playoff game,” Smith said. “Our team is extremely coachable and all 11 players can get on the floor. This will help us grow for the future.”

RIVENDELL

Coach: Ross Convertino (4)

Last Year: 6-4, lost in quarterfinals of playoffs

League: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League

Returnees: Seniors: Kyle Carter (G), Chris Pierce (G), Jameson Gilbert (F), Garrett Stever (G), Wyatt Underhill (G). Juniors: Harrison Molesworth (G/F), Josiah Welch (G/F), Derek Vogelien (G), Ashton Pierson (G/F).

Newcomers: Sophomores: Jacoby Patterson (G), Finn O’Donnell (G).

Analysis: Convertino’s squad has a lot of experience this year. He doesn’t have any win-loss expectations, but is confident the Raptors will be competitive. Several Upper Valley coaches think Rivendell could be one of the best teams in Division IV. Kyle Carter (18.8 ppg last year) has a chance to clear the 1,000 point milestone, and Chris Pierce (11.3 ppg) figures to also be a key player.

“I think our strengths include our depth, competitiveness and IQ,” Convertino said. “We may lack size but we play bigger than we are and our ability to play different styles will also serve us well. I am beyond excited to coach this group. Our players are motivated and I think our brand of basketball will be fun to watch.”

SHARON

Coach: Dave Brown (1)

Last Year: 0-8, lost in first round of playoffs

League: VPA Division IV, Southern Vermont League

Returnees: Seniors: Riley Eastman (G), Daniel Henderson (G/F). Juniors: Parker Bogardus (F/C), Jack Doris (C), Jack Lloyd (G)

Newcomers: Seniors: Jaxon Nichols (F), Jack Brandon (F). Juniors: Caleb Benjamin (F), Jack Doris (C). Sophomores: Maple Moore (F), Eli Huntington (F)

Analysis: Athletic director Blake Fabrikant gave up the boys basketball coaching job after 12 seasons on the sideline. Brown enters a rebuilding job at Sharon, which will likely lean on last year’s leading scorer Riley Eastman (9.1 ppg).

“It’s a very athletic group,” Brown said. “Experience-wise, we’ve got a lot of improvement to make for sure.”

STEVENS

Coach: Ray Curren (2)

Last Year: 3-8, lost in first round of playoffs

League: NHIAA Division III

Returnees: Seniors: Dylan Chambers (G), Reeve Wilkinson (F). Juniors: Hunter LaRocque (G), Devin Genes (G), Kayden LaClair (G), Dominic Puksta (F), Trystan Lane (F), Ty Theriault (F). Sophomore: Lucas Belisle (F).

Newcomers: Senior: Cooper Moote (G). Junior: Evan Lee (G). Austin Jones (F). Sophomore: Mason Ferland (C).

Analysis: The Cardinals will play their first full season in Division III since 2017-18. They have won three games or fewer in each of the three seasons since then. Last year’s leading scorer Clayton Wadsworth (15.4 ppg) is gone, and junior Jai-Lique Reibeiro, whom Curren said would’ve been a key contributor, is out for the season with a hand injury. Several others will miss time early with various ailments.

“We’re very small, but we have a lot of athleticism and we’re going to try to use that to our advantage,” Curren said. “Been a big struggle for the last three years, but (in D-III) there should be more games we can go after. And that should help confidence as the season goes along. (I’m) happy with (our) effort in preseason, and we’ll see where we go.”

THETFORD

Coach: Jason Gray (6)

Last Year: 4-6, lost in semifinals of playoffs

League: VPA Division III, Capital League

Returnees: Seniors: Mack Briglin (G), Ethan Marshia (G), Alex Kim (F), Logan Protzman (F). Junior: Jacob Gilman (G). Sophomore: Mitchell Parkman (F).

Newcomers: Freshmen: Hunter Clay (G), Boone Fahey (F), Dillon Vance (G/F), Zander Clark (G), Mathew Vivian (G), Dempsey McGovern (G).

Analysis: After two straight state titles, the Panthers made another playoff run in 2020-21 but fell in the quarterfinals. Thetford will try to rebound this year after losing its top four scorers from last season.

“Strength this year is that we play in the capital league to get us ready for the postseason. The weakness for our team this year is that we have six freshmen on the varsity team,” Gray said. “But we have a team that is hard working and ready to put their best efforts out on the court every night.”

WHITE RIVER VALLEY

Coach: Mike Gaudette (4)

Last Year: 4-1, lost in quarterfinals of playoffs

League: VPA Division IV, Vermont C. League

Returnees: Seniors: Austin Tracy (F), Dominic Craven (G), Weston Trombly (C),

Newcomers: Seniors: Arliss Spaulding (G), Macin Gaudette (G). Juniors: Reed Penta (F), Luke Durkee (G). Sophomores: Dylan Slack (F), Tattin Griffin (F). Freshmen: Braeden Russ (G), Donovan Craven (F).

Analysis: After playing just five regular season games in 2021, the Wildcats will be happy to simply play a full schedule this season. Dominic Craven (16 ppg last year) is one of the top shooters in the Upper Valley and will look to lead his team further in the playoffs after three consecutive quarterfinal trips, two in Division IV.

“We have a nice mix of returning seniors with experience and a good group of young talent that just needs game experience,” Gaudette said. “Our ability to come together as a team will be key for us as we hope to go deep into the playoffs.”

WINDSOR

Coach: Harry Ladue (39)

Last Year: 5-4, lost in first round of playoffs

League: VPA Division III

Returnees: Seniors: Kaleb Swett (G), Austin Gauld (F), Ben Gilbert (F). Junior: Maison Fortin (G).

Newcomers: Seniors: Caleb Buchanan (G), Dalton Clifford (C). Juniors: Roger Petermann (F), Travis McAllister (F), Bradley Bowers (F).

Analysis: Windsor’s leading scorer from last season, Owen Abrahamsen (18.8 ppg) is gone. The Yellowjackets return one starter from last year’s squad.

“We have decent quickness and should be competitive in our division,” Ladue said. “We play a tough league schedule that should prepare us for the tournament.”

WOODSTOCK

Coach: Steve Landon (1)

Last Year: 1-8, lost in playdowns

League: VPA Division II

Returnees: Seniors: Corey White (G), Alex Rice (F), Cooper Jones (F), Cooper Dorsogna (G), Nathan Gnodde (F). Juniors: Rowen Smail (F), Alec Smail (G), Declan McCullough (G).

Newcomers: Juniors: Izaiah Moses (F), Chris Bradley. Sophomore: Zach Martsolf-Tan (G).

Analysis: Former Hartford coach Steve Landon served as Woodstock’s interim head girls basketball coach last season, and now he begins as the boys coach. He has a big project in front of him. The Wasps lost last year’s leading scorer Manny Pacheco (11.1 ppg), but return much of the squad as upperclassmen. Seniors Cooper Dorsogna (9.4 ppg) and Corey White (7.9 ppg) figure to be key contributors.

“This group of young men is very athletic,” Landon said. “I think by the end of the season, with their determination to change a few things, I think we’re going to be a competitive team towards the end. I haven’t been around a group of well-rounded young men like this in a long time.”




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