Vermont High School Basketball Preview
The high school season is underway in the state of Vermont and so it’s time to consider some of the favorites for the four respective state championships on the line in the Green Mountain state.
Rice Memorial – The defending state champions return quite a bit of firepower including three starters, ample size up front, and talent in the backcourt. Casey Tipson will run the show in the backcourt, where he will be ably assisted by the likes of Tom Fitzgerald and Peter Sylvester. The senior duo of Tim Rensch and Jake Maynard will be counted on up front where junior Marcus Willingham has been a starter since day one of his freshman season.
Mount Mansfield – Eric Suder provides one of the state’s premier interior presences and he’s far from a one man show. Tom Lacy could be on the verge of a breakout year while the team is also deep and talented at the guard spots. Cody Sharrow was the leading scorer in a big win over Rice to start the season.
Missisquoi – The defending division II state champions make the move to D1 this year and hope to be contenders with the return of junior swingman Matt St. Amour, who averaged 19 points per game last year as a sophomore. St. Amour will need some help though if Missisquoi is to compete with the state’s best and so the supporting cast will be the key.
Rutland – They’ve lost quite a bit from the team that advanced all the way to last year’s state final as Troy Davine and Alex Snyder both graduated last June. But Tre Pratt-Hysell returns to run the show and appears poised to take on a starring role and attempt to lead Rutland to another successful campaign this season.
St. Johnsbury – Picked fourth to start the season in the Vermont Basketball Coaches Association poll, St. Johsbury faced a big early season test last week against Rutland. While they came out on the losing end of that stick, they are still a program to be reckoned with led by Sam Jones and super sophomore Brendan OShea.
Colchester – They have one of the best backcourt tandems in the state in Nate Hodge and Anthony Granai and if they can get some steady production out of their frontcourt there might not be a better story in the state than the team who won only one game just two seasons ago.
Brattleboro – Travis Beeman-Nesbitt is a six-foot-three senior who can play a variety of different positions for this Brattleboro team. He’s expected to play a leading role in what could be a big season for this growing power in the southern portion of the state.
• Burlington may be rebuilding a bit after losing a host of seniors from last year’s quarterfinals team. Look for Ho Nguyen to play a prominent role.
• CVU’s line-up lacks a big name with the graduation of Jake Donnelly. They’ll look to utilize depth and balance to improve on last year’s seven wins.
• Essex is also looking to replace a star in Ben Ferris, and if the 2010 state champions are to return to their winning ways they’ll need a variety of players to step up.
• Spaulding opened with a 56-45 win over Essex last week and has a talented junior in Brooks Mayo to play a leading role as they look to make a run in D1.
• Mount Anthony loses Clayton Palmer but Aaryngston Bibens looked ready for center stage with 29 points and 12 rebounds over Burlington to start the season.
Vergennes – Jake Bushee and company are out of the gates on a tear as they’ve already rattled off three impressive wins, taking hard fought decisions over the likes of Montpelier and division I foes South Burlington and Champlain Valley Union.
Mount St. Joseph Academy – Jaskin Melendez is a six-foot-five senior who provides the type of interior presence not often found in division II. They are already two wins into what has the potential to be an exciting season.
U32 – They’ve got two convincing wins under their belt to start the season and a tandem of talent sophomores to keep the program trending upwards for the next few years as Ryan Booth and Chris Collins have the potential to develop into one of the state’s best one-two punches.
Mill River – They’re looking to build upon the success of last season’s run to the division II quarterfinals and the hopes are high with the return of guys like Nate Halligan and Jay Carleton to headline the line-up.
• Hartford is off to a bit of a disappointing start but still have a notable talent in the junior class to depend on moving forward in point guard Josh Claflin.
• Fair Haven could prove to be dangerous this year, especially on the nights when Robert Colutti is able to get hot on the offensive end.
Winooski – The defending d3 state champions are hoping to repeat but they suffered an early setback at the hands of Williamstown. Devon Rollins will be the headliner this year and expected to put up big numbers.
Windsor – They’re on a tear to start the season, opening with a pair of commanding wins including a 78-74 decision over division II Woodstock Union and a 58-31 whooping of pre-season favorite Thetford.
• Thetford was the pre-season favorite according to the VBCA poll but has been sluggish to start with an 0-2 record.
• Hazen has been a similar story as they currently sit at 1-2 after being picked second overall in the pre-season poll.
Twinfield – When you are the defending state champions, coming off a perfect 24-0 season and you happen to return arguably the best frontcourt player in the state, you’re a pretty good bet to be the pre-season favorite to repeat. That’s exactly the case for Twinfield as Chad Copeland returns hoping to lead his squad to a repeat performance of last season’s success.
• Websterville Baptist returns Andrew Shuman in the middle, perhaps the only player in division IV capable of containing Copeland.
• Rochester is a program on the rise with sophomore Pavin Parrish seemingly ready for a breakout year at the helm of the program.