VPA Season Preview
The Vermont high school season tips off on Friday, so it’s time to consider some of the favorites for the four respective state championships on the line in the Green Mountain state.
St. Johnsbury – The Hilltoppers return their starting backcourt in junior sharp shooter Brendan OShea and sophomore Tristen Ross. The Hilltoppers also added some talented transfers including 6’4 shooter Jekebs Grinbergs, 6’7 Center Vlad Cobrazu and slashing guard Taeshon Best. Look for the Hilltoppers to be one of the best inside-outside threats in the state.
Rice Memorial – Last year’s runner up returns three starters, including first team all-state selection Casey Tipson at the wing position. Joining Tipson is true point guard Tom Fitzgerald and four year starter Marcus Willingham. 6’5 James Wells is one of the top rising sophomores in the state and will provide front line depth, along with senior Peter Sylvester.
Rutland – Third team all-state selection Tre Pratt-Hysell returns along with three other starters from last year’s semi-final group. Hysell, along with Pat O’Rourke, Eli Rodgers and Kyle Arnold, will look to push the tempo on both ends of the floor. This is sure to be one of the best shooting teams in the state.
Mount Mansfield – The defending champions graduated all five of their starters, and filling the shoes of all-state performers Tom Lacy and Eric Suder will not be easy. The Cougars will rely on a talented junior backcourt of Sean Springer and Nick Bergeron. Sophomore Tinga Adiang is an athletic wing who could have a big year.
Missisquoi – The Thunderbirds will once again rely on Gatorade Player of the Year Matt St. Amour, who averaged 26.6 points per game and 12.8 rebounds per game last year as a junior. St. Amour will be aided by scoring point guard Tyler Cooper in the backcourt.
Burlington – The Seahorses returns junior sharp shooter Bryan Vachereau who will team up with one of the state’s best freshman in Josh Hale. Burlington will cause some tough match ups due to their guard play and three-point shooting ability.
Spaulding - Spaulding is one of the biggest teams in Vermont as they return two 6’5 post players in junior Marcus Thornton and senior Brooks Mayo. 6’1 wing Evan Grubb was a 2nd Team all-metro league player a year ago and is one of the capital region’s best shooters. If the Tide can find consistent point guard play they have a chance to make a run in March.
Champlain Valley Union - CVU returns Brad Bissonette, a good shooter who averaged double digits last year. The Red Hawks also return a strong post presence in 6’4 junior Lucas Aube. With Scott Bissonette, Joe Chevalier and Ryan Beaudry also chipping in, CVU should be one the deepest teams in Vermont.
Mount Anthony – MAU returns virtually every player from last year’s young roster including 2nd Team all-state player Aary Bibens. Bibens will need help from players like Evan Sparta, Chris Boisse and Gerrod Adams in order for the Patriots to make a deep run.
Middlebury – The Tigers return all five starters from last year including pure point guard Mitchell Clarke and athletic forward Tyler Provencher. Middlebury should win a lot of games due to team chemistry and depth.
Lyndon – Lyndon Institute returns one of the state’s best shooters in junior Mason Lantz, a solid 6’4 post player in junior Kyle Cipollone and one of the state’s top sophomores in 6’5 forward Jay Cobb. With the addition of Josiah Kimball, look for LI to be a sleeper in Division 1.
Vergennes – Last year’s runner up returns four starters including third team all-state selection Shep Carter. Cater will be joined in backcourt by seniors Zach Ouellete and Cody Quattrocci while senior Stanley Sally will be a tough match up in the paint. With their senior leadership, experience and balance, the Commodores are the early favorites in division II.
U32 –The U returns one of the state’s best shooters in dream dozen selection Ryan Booth. Add in 6’5 post Chris Collins and senior guard Zeb Bolduc and this team has a great chance to make a run in March.
Burr & Burton – The Bulldogs return dream dozen selection Jake Stalcup and scoring point guard Dave Shedhadi from a team that made the final four last year.
MSJ – MSJ loses four starters from its state championship team, but returns athletic guard Johanathan Mitchell and sharp shooter Matt Sanborn. The Mounties will need to get production out of its young players if they want to make a deep run.
Mill River – Mill River returns dream dozen selection and one of the state’s premier shooters in Jay Carleton. Carleton will need help from his supporting cast for Mill River to be a contender.
Hartford – Hartford returns one of the state’s top point guards in Josh Claflin. Clafin played a key role in Hartford’s upset win over Mill River in last year’s playoffs.
Williamstown – Williamstown will be the Division III favorites as they return many key pieces from last year’s state championship team. Jason Manwaring is an athletic wing who can light it up in a hurry. Seth Atherton and Garret Poulin will provide backcourt leadership.
Enosburg – Dream Dozen selection Brandon Gleason returns to an Enosburg team that had some surprise victories last year, including one over Missisquoi Valley. Enosburg will look to build on that success this year
Hazen – A school with a lot of basketball tradition will look to make a deep run this year with the return of star player Dimitri Vasiliadis.
Twinfield – Although the defending state champions lost first team all-state forward Chad Copeland to graduation, they are still a favorite in Division IV. Twinfield returns dream dozen selections David Codling and Brandon Gibbs to a deep team.
Rochester – Rochester has the best player in Division IV as junior combo guard Pavin Parrish has already eclipsed 1,000 points in his career. After a final four appearance last year, Rochester is poised to make another run in March.
Twin Valley – Dream dozen selection Colin Lozito returns to anchor a Twin Valley team that could be the best D4 team in Southern Vermont.
Craftsbury – Craftsbury could be the Division 4 sleeper this year with two of the division’s top sophomores in Kyle Adams and Alex Vetere.