VPA Regular Season Wrap-Up

Owen Carlson | Friday, February 23rd, 2024

Drew Bessette 2024

The state of Vermont‘s high school athletic association, known as the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA), has several recruits worth knowing. As the regular season comes to a close, we decided to take a look through how things have gone this season. 


The Top Two


When mentioning Vermont Principals’ Association basketball, two teams immediately jump out above the rest in Rice Memorial and Champlain Valley Union. Just last year, the two schools faced off in a defensive battle for the state championship, with Champlain Valley Union coming away with a 4-point victory to claim the trophy over back-to-back-to-back reigning champs Rice Memorial. This year, however, Rice Memorial has been victorious through both regular season showdowns between the two powers, boasting a roster stacked with talented prospects who look ready for this year’s postseason. Let’s take a look at the title favorites and where they currently stand.


Rice Memorial currently sits at the top of the VPA’s first division with just one stunning league loss coming in their final regular season game. The first prospect to know is one of the state’s top performers overall this season in UVM-commit 6’8” forward Drew Bessette, who has been a part of the latter two championships that completed Rice’s three-peat from 2020-2022. He has been virtually unstoppable this year after already earning Burlington Metro Player of the Year honors following last season. Not a game goes by where Bessette fails to make his presence known on both ends of the floor, as the future Catamount uses his size to be a consistent threat on the glass and his athleticism to be a relentless defender. 


However, even more names to know come out of this team’s 2025 class. The Eaton twins, Owen Eaton and Evan Eaton, both scored 20 in a victory over Bellows Free Academy, with Evan also dishing 5 assists and grabbing 4 boards. Owen also dropped 27 in a big win over Burlington in January. The 6’2” athletic guards play above their size, scoring at all three levels and using their toughness to their advantage on the inside. They also get their hands in passing lanes for breakaway slams. Others who have been big for Rice out of the class of 2025 include 6’4” wings Grant Cieplicki and Abdi Sharif, who have both been defensive menaces and great offensive facilitators. Despite the hiccup at the end of the regular season, it might be safe to say that Rice Memorial is the favorite to take this year’s VPA D1 Championship.


Just below Rice Memorial is Champlain Valley Union, led by 2024 RPI-commit 6’7” forward Tucker Tharpe. Tharpe has been the star of this powerful team, helping lead Champlain Valley Union to a 17-3 overall record. He uses his size to his advantage on the inside, but also gets a portion of his points from deep and mid-range. He also alters shots and causes havoc on the defensive end. Two of their three losses came at the hands of Rice Memorial, also dropping their first showdown against St. Johnsbury Academy earlier this season. However, this squad looks strong headed into postseason play, as they recently avenged the loss to St. Johnsbury Academy with a 7-point victory to finish off the regular season. 


Some Other Notable Teams


This brings us to another one of the top teams in VPA D1: St. Johnsbury Academy. Led by 2024 6’2” combo guard Harry Geng, SJA currently sits at third as we head into the postseason. Geng uses his athleticism and quick first step to advance the ball in transition and finish on fastbreaks. He also shows great court vision, hitting guys up the floor and initiating offenses to go along with his strong inside game. Another notable name from this squad is that of 2025 6’5” wing Rex Hauser, who uses his size and length to affect the game defensively and get to the rim with ease on the offensive end. They have handled most of the competition this year, with their only losses coming at the hands of Rice Memorial, Champlain Valley Union, and another historical power in South Burlington. 


More Standouts


This brings us to South Burlington: Led by 2024 6’2” combo guard Tyler Bergmans, this squad has seen both success and hardship throughout the course of this season, winning 10 of their first 13 games but dropping 6 of the past 8 to close out the regular season. Bergmans is a tough defender, rotating well and getting his hands in passing lanes all game long. He consistently races down the floor in transition, leading to easy finishes. Another South Burlington name to know is that of 2025 6’1” guard Deng Aguek, who has played a major role for the team, averaging roughly 15 points and 7 rebounds, using his toughness to play above his size. 


Finally, we close out our rundown of the Vermont Principals’ Association with a squad from Division 4: Danville. Led by 2025 guard Andrew Joncas, this squad sits at the top overall spot in VPA D4. Earlier this season, Andrew Joncas scored the 1,000th point of his high school career, a notable feat for recruits at any level. 


These are just some of the biggest names, as there are still plenty of talented recruits throughout the Vermont Principals’ Association. It will be exciting to follow this year’s postseason tournaments for all four of the VPA’s divisions.