Chittenden County high school boys basketball preview capsules

Chittenden County high school boys basketball preview capsules


Chittenden County high school boys basketball preview capsules



* Coach: Matt Johnson (12th season)

* Last season: 11-12; lost to St. Johnsbury in Division I semifinals

* This season: 1-0

* Key returnees: Bryan Vachereau, senior, guard; Shaquane Cooperwood, senior, guard; Marley Heimert, junior, guard; Josh Hale, sophomore, forward

* Key newcomers: Asko Mostarlic, sophomore, forward

* Outlook: The Cinderella story at last year’s Final Four as a No. 12 seed, the Seahorses return an experienced core group of players, with nine veterans including Vachereau and Hale, two of last year’s top scorers. Toss in a handful of talented newcomers and BHS has itself a lineup capable of knocking down shots and slashing to the hoop. “I like the mix of kids we’ve got. We’ve got a good nucleus back,” Johnson said. “I think they’re all capable of contributing, scoring at different points.”

* Up next: Thursday vs. Colchester

Champlain Valley

* Coach: Michael Osborne (first season)

* Last season: 9-12; lost to Spaulding in Division I playdowns

* This season: 0-1

* Key returnees: Lucas Aube, senior, forward; Zach Evans, senior, guard; Brandon O’Connell, senior, forward/center

* Key newcomers: Chris Reiss, junior, guard; Richard Baccei, junior, guard

* Outlook: Osborne, who spent the past eight seasons as men’s basketball coach at Johnson State College, takes over a Redhawk squad with seven seniors and five juniors, and likes where they are heading right now. Evans, Reiss and Baccei are each influential pieces of a strong, deep backcourt. “It’s a lot of getting to know each other right now,” Osborne said.

* Up next: Tuesday vs. BFA-St. Albans


* Coach: Joe Maheux (eighth season)

* Last season: 4-17; lost to Rutland in Division I playdowns

* This season: 1-0

* Key returnees: Ricky Giroux, senior, guard; Brady Doud, senior, guard; Tyler Breen, junior, guard; Regal Spencer, senior, guard

* Key newcomers: Marquel Webster, senior, forward; Erik Lagerquist, junior, guard; Ben Seaman, junior, guard; Noah Robinson, junior, forward

* Outlook: Maheux’s Colchester teams have been built an uptempo style with strong outside shooters. That might change with the addition of Webster, a 6-foot-7 forward who should be a force down low. “It’s changed how I coach and how we play. We’ve added some new wrinkles along the way,” Maheux said. One familiar name is Giroux, one of the top returning scorers in the Metro. Continuity is a preseason concern in meshing the returnees and newcomers, Maheux said.

* Up next: Tuesday vs. Rutland


* Coach: Jeff Goodrich (10th season)

* Last season: 13-9; lost to Rutland in Division I quarterfinals

* This season: 1-0

* Key returnees: Eniz Camdzic, senior, guard; Jeff Kent, senior, guard; Joe Aiken, senior, forward; Mason Yandow, senior, guard

* Key newcomers: Brad Snow, senior, guard; Cody Greene, junior, guard; Eli DiGrande, sophomore, forward; Aidan Travers, sophomore, guard

* Outlook: Moving on from the graduation of versatile forward Tommy Carton — and his 20 points, 10 rebounds a game — and seven other seniors is the task at hand for the Hornets. The now much younger Essex club will rely on defense as it gains experience and cohesion. “We’ll see how we match up against the rest of the Metro,” Goodrich said. “We’ll need to key on things defensively because we don’t have ‘the guy’ that can pull up and make shots and clean up on the boards too.”

* Up next: Monday vs. South Burlington


* Coach: Chris Brown (third season)

* Last season: 3-18; lost to Vergennes in Division II playdowns

* This season: 0-1

* Key returnees: Sam Noel, senior, guard; Michael Cook, senior, forward; Jeremy Lamotte, senior, forward; Kyle Apgar, sophomore, forward; Eric Menard, sophomore, guard

* Key newcomers: Ryan Nichols, senior, forward

* Outlook: After leading the Yellowjackets from 2005-2007, Brown returns to the Milton sideline to take over a team that graduated leading scorer Derryk O’Grady (the program’s third player to crack 1,000 career points). The first goal is building a rotation for scoring depth. “We need to identify guys that can score,” Brown said. “We have four underlcassmen that have a high basketball IQ and solid skillsets — we’re trying to fold that all together with the upperclassmen we have.” Menard and Apgar return as second-year starters while Nichols, a first-year varsity player, offers another post option at 6-foot-4.

* Up next: Monday vs. Lamoille

Mount Mansfield

* Coach: Jeff Davis (15th season)

* Last season: 14-7; lost to Burlington in Division I playdowns

* This season: 1-0

* Key returnees: Nick Bergeron, senior, guard; Sean Springer, senior, guard; Sam Kitsos, senior, forward; Tinga Adiang, junior, guard; Alec Eschholz, junior, guard

* Key newcomers: Kyle Adams, junior, guard; Jesse Streeter, senior, forward

* Outlook: In the wake of the 2012 championship team, last year’s Cougars rebounded with a 14-win regular season. And the good news? Only three players graduated from that crew. “With our personnel I think we can definitely compete. I really like my group,” Davis said. Now with a deeper roster of veterans like Springer, Kitsos, Adiang and Eschholz, the Cougars aim to improve their transition scoring and mount another playoff run.

* Up next: Tuesday at North Country


* Coach: Paul Pecor (11th season)

* Last season: 20-4; won Division I championship over St. Johnsbury

* This season: 1-0

* Key returnees: Tommy Fitzgerald, senior, guard; Matt Maynard, senior, forward; Connor Stankevich, senior, forward/guard; Arnold Vainqueur, junior, guard; James Wells, junior, forward; Ben Shungu, sophomore, guard

* Key newcomers: Ferran Lopez, junior, guard; Karim Fuad, junior, guard; Kendrick Gray, sophomore, forward

* Outlook: The reigning D-I champs can’t call on since-graduated stalwarts Casey Tipson and Marcus Willingham any more. But they have a large cast of talented players eager to pick up where the three-time finalists left off. “This is the deepest team I’ve ever coached, meaning we can go 10 deep … I’ve never really done that, it’s different for me,” Pecor said. “I’ve got a lot of kids that can score.” The Green Knights are still experimenting with different combinations, but Gray, a 6-foot-5 North Country transfer, rounds out a tall front line with Wells and Maynard and Fitzgerald returns at the point.

* Up next: Thursday at Champlain Valley

South Burlington

* Coach: Mike Kennedy (14th season)

* Last season: 2-19; lost to St. Johnsbury in Division I playdowns

* This season: 1-0

* Key returnees: Zach Piper, senior, guard; Bryant Hinchliffe, senior, forward; Jeremy Clements, sophomore, forward

* Key newcomers: Patrick McMackin, junior, center

* Outlook: Already, Kennedy has noticed a positive energy around this year’s team, which has six players returning from a year ago. “I’m really excited about how the guys approached the summer and preseason,” he said. Kennedy hopes the successful seasons off the hardwood for a number of players — Clements and Eddie Hockenbury (football); McMackin (baseball); Piper (cross-country running); and Kyle Murakami (lacrosse) — rub off this winter as the Rebels build a winning mentality.

* Up next: Monday at Essex


* Coach: Tom Obbagy (12th season)

* Last season: 11-10; lost to Randolph in Division III playdowns

* Key returnees: Kyle Bigelow, senior, forward; Kevin Pham, senior, forward; Austin Mayo, senior, guard; Ali Omar, junior, guard

* Key newcomer: Eddie Lamson, freshman, guard

* Outlook: The Spartans return their top three scorers in Bigelow, Pham and Omar. And the freshman Lamson will add to the guard-heavy team’s quickness and become a regular in the Obbagy’s rotation. The key for this season will be how the Spartans adapt to a fast-paced style, pushing the ball up the court and applying a press defensively. “We have a new philosophy. We have speed and we have good depth and this is a good opportunity to try this,” Obbagy said. The Spartans earn a tough test in the opener against defending Division III champion Williamstown.

* Opener: Tuesday vs. Williamstown

— Austin Danforth and Alex Abrami


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Chittenden County high school boys basketball preview capsules

Coach: Matt Johnson (12th season)

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