Vermont High School Season Preview
We begin in Vermont where the regular season actually started several weeks ago. The state’s basketball climate was heightened several years ago when the UVM teams made their runs through the America East Conference and even came up with an upset victory over Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. Since that time more and more people seem to be passionate about their local basketball.
The strength in Vermont Division 1 basketball once again comes out of the Metro Division. In all but two of the last fifteen years the state champion has emerged from this dominant conference. It appears this year could very well be more of the same. Three schools lead the way as Champlain Valley Union has to be considered the favorite while St. Johnsbury and Essex are capable of beating anyone on a given night as well. Mt. Anthony and Brattleboro also appear capable of challenging. Champlain Valley Union is led by first year Head Coach Scott Bliss who has already energized his club. With 6'6" senior Greg Gause in the middle,1000 pt. scorer Ben Brooks on the wing, and dead eye shooter Ryan Poirer, they have no apparent weakness. This veteran crew is aiming to bring home the school’s first state hoops title. It should be an exciting winter in Red Hawk land.
Perennial powers Burlington and Rice, though young, are talented and looking to challenge. BHS is led by the one-two punch of 6’4” sophomore swingman Joe O’Shea and 6’7” junior big man Clancy Rugg. O’Shea is lefty with a lethal outside shot who can do a little bit of everything, while Rugg is a nice inside out threat. No school in Vermont has put out as many college players as Rice Memorial. The defending champs are led by two talented juniors with 6'4"point guard Jon Goldberg running the show and 6'6" athletic Nick Meunier in the post. Coach Paul Pecor will be working his team hard to ensure they are ready for March. Out of southern Vermont comes Mt. Anthony and Brattleboro. MAU is capable of going the distance with senior Dan Bisaccio and sophomore guard Kyle Callanan both able to put points on the board in a hurry. It could be a big season for Brattleboro as long as Ryan Boyle is in the line-up, as he can go for 30 on any night.
Rusmir Dzanko and Gabe Nicasio of Essex Jct., Matt Joslin at North Country, and Sol Bayer Pacht of South Burlington are all players to watch in D1. Kevin Labbas of Mt. Abraham leads the Eagles in there D2 title defense, with Harwood and Windsor having outstanding talent in their programs, and being definite contenders.
D.J. Campbell will try to take Winooski to the promise land in D3, but will have to battle with Candon Rusin at Twin Valley. D4 shapes up to be a great rivalry battle, with Greg Hughes at West Rutland and Kyle McQuarrie at Proctor going head to head in that division.
All in all it shapes up to be a great winter of action in a state that may be small in size, but big in their passion for basketball.