Prep Profile Bridgton Academy
As Bridgton Academy departs class A of the NEPSAC and makes their way to class AAA, it provides a great opportunity to look back at their string of success in what was New England’s (and perhaps the countries’) most competitive basketball league.
The Wolverines took four of the last six class A championships, including three in a row from 2005 to 2007. Because Bridgton Academy is home to an all post-graduate student body, the only common denominator in all of those championships was head coach Whit Lesure.
Although the 2010-2011 season marks Bridgton’s first in the newly formed class AAA (along with seven of their peer schools formerly in class A), much is still the same in North Bridgton, Maine as another fall marks the process of Coach Lesure beginning to mold twelve new faces into one cohesive team.
This year’s squad will have a unique approach, as the Wolverines will look to find success by playing the game inside out in what has traditionally been a guard dominated league.
Daniel Franca and Donnie Hale form a potent one-two punch up front, not just because of their individual talents but also because of the way in which they complement each other. Hale, an Indiana native who is already committed to Purdue, is mobile and tremendously active, flying around the court to get his hands on a lot of balls on both ends of the court. The lefty is also very skilled and comfortable from either the high post or the perimeter. That leaves room for Franca, the powerful Brazilian, to do his work inside the paint as he projects as a consistent scoring threat with his back to the basket.
The point guard position is another spot that Lesure can feel good about with New York native Kareem Canty on hand to run the show. Canty is coming off an impressive AAU season with Long Island Lightning Dingle, attracting some high-major interest in the process and a plethora of mid-major offers.
With the five, four, and one positions all in very capable hands, the two and three are the only spots which still hold questions.
It was just Alexsander Dobrovic’s second day in the country when we visited Bridgton’s gym last month, and if he adjusts to the American game and lives up to his reputation as a fearless competitor with a consistent outside stroke, then he could be of vital importance this season.
Cory Spence could contend for the second starting job in the backcourt but may be best served coming off the bench as the hard-nosed Baltimore product can come in for either guard position and instantly change the game on both ends of the floor.
One niche that Bridgton rosters of the past have always included were especially valuable role players. Their value was rarely defined by their statistical output but instead by their ability to impact the game by doing a variety of the little things. Derek Mayo played this role beautifully for the Wolverines last year and this season there are several early candidates for the job.
Tommy McDonnell and Josh Altman are two New England residents who have a high intellect for the game while Nebru Exantus and Cory Shaw offer some playmaking off the bench. Brendan Allen is a versatile 6’5” forward who could potentially see time at multiple positions while Marko Varicilk is a good sized swingman who could blossom into a zone buster for this squad.
Ultimately, this Bridgton team has enough weapons to be dangerous but not so many that they begin the year as the favorites…that’s a recipe that has proven to be a very successful one over the years for Coach Lesure.