Preview and photos by
Joe Milliken - Sports Editor
Bellows Falls Terriers
The Bellows Falls boys' basketball team will be going through a rebuilding year, putting a young team on the court after losing a half dozen key seniors to graduation.
What makes matters worse is the fact that the Terriers recently lost three seniors and a sophomore to academic ineligibility.
Therefore, the Terriers will be searching for offense this season, with several players getting the opportunity to step up, including Will Bourne, Drew Guild, Justin Ruggerio, Jeremy Kilburn and Peter Falzo.
A big concern will be the ability to hit the outside shots and being undersized in the paint and under the boards, therefore the Terriers will need to play tough defense.
However, even if this can be accomplished, coach Evan Chadwick will still need one of his players and become a shooter, a go-to offensive leader on the floor.
The Lady Terriers are also in a rebuilding phase, after not only losing a few key seniors to graduation, but also their long-time coach Jayne Barber to retirement.
Therefore, new varsity coach Justin Aube will need some time to implement his new way of doing things.
Aube's current squad is relatively small, which might cause a problem in the rebounding department.
However, Bellows Falls does possess some speed, especially in the back court, therefore if they can play scrappy defense and cause turnovers, this could lead to some easy transition points.
Sophomore guard Sarah Dumont, who got some important playing time as a frosh, appears to be the young leader of this team at the point. She handles the ball well, plays that scrappy defense and can take the ball to the basket.
However, others need to step up as well, including seniors Julie Cermola, Marissa Smith and juniors Megan LaBeau and Ally Davis.
The Lady Terriers are also young, with two sophomores and four freshman on the varsity team.
Keep an eye on frosh Enny Mustapha, who has good size, speed and athletisicm. As she learns the game and if she works hard, Enny has the tools to be a very good rebounder and post player around the basket.
Green Mountain Chiefs
Entering (I believe) his whopping 51st season as a high school basketball coach, I think it's safe to say that coach Robert "Stretch" Gillam has "seen it all."
Junior point guard Jason Albert, now a third-year starter, should be able to run the offense with a purpose.
Albert will also need to consistently knock down the perimeter shot and make defenders come out and guard him, which in turn should open up lanes for his teammates.
Senior center Ian Furrer will need to play tough defense under the basket, while Justin Veysey is quick, versatile and can fill up a stat sheet if he works hard and can stay disciplined on the floor.
Junior guard Ian Currie will also have to step up offensively, while Ryan McNally could also provide some offense off the bench.
The Lady Chieftains have all the elements to make a serious run at a state title under coach Terry Farrell.
Coach Farrell will put some talent and experience on the floor, including senior center Emma Listle, a game-changer who not only can score in the paint, but also plays tough defense, rebounds well and block shots.
The Lady Chiefs also have a strong back court with senior guard Sara Groshens and sophomore McKala Benson.
Groshens plays tough defense all over the court, while Benson is really coming into her own as an excellent scorer and defender.
Another key is the addition of junior Julie Comstock, a transfer from Vermont Academy who sees the court well and plays great defense.
If they stay healthy and out of foul trouble (they do not have the luxury of big roster numbers) there is no reason the Lady Chiefs can not make that title run.
This season, coach Peter Peck's defending state champion Cosmos should have no problem putting points on the board, led by senior guard Brandon Boyle, Billy Wheeler, Ethan McAllister and T.J. Wallace.
However teams will be looking to double-team and shut down the high-scoring Boyle, so the Cosmos will need to space the floor and share the ball in the transition game in order to create some easy baskets for others.
The Cosmos are not a particularly big team so rebounding could be an issue, therefore they will need to use their speed and get Boyle in the open floor to make plays.
The junior Wheeler will also need to step up and be a consistent scorer alongside Boyle.
The Springfield girls', under first-year coach Brodie Ladue, should also be able to put some points on the board, but more importantly will need to quickly gel defensively.
Several Lady Cosmos will be looked upon for scoring punch, including Brittany Grant, Kayla Perham, Desmond Dana and Chelsea Howland.
The Cosmos will also need to avoid turnovers, which has plagued them recently. There are some athletic players on this team that should be able to keep them in games.
Black River Presidents
The Black River girls' basketball team is going through a rebuilding process, as they put a very small (in roster numbers), fairly young and inexperienced team on the court.
After losing 1,000-point scorer Courtney Rohrig to graduation, putting points on the board could be an issue for this team, so they will need to rely on grit, hustle and determination to overcome obstacles.
Offensively, the Lady Presidents will rely on seniors Katie O'Neil, Kaitelynd Palmer and Amanda Chambers, as well as the up-and-coming sophomore Angie Valente.
However the larger concern could be on the defensive end of the floor and rebounding. With not a lot of experience and a small (in numbers) bench, the Lady Presidents can ill-afford injuries, or getting into foul trouble.
Valente and Palmer can score if they get the ball in the right spots and O'Neil works hard all over the floor, therefore the younger players on the roster will need to follow their lead and find a way to grind out some wins.
On a sad note, the Black River boys' will not play a schedule this winter, because of roster and ineligibility issues. But hopefully the Presidents will be able to regroup and come back strong next season to carry on the colorful President's basketball tradition.
Leland & Gray Rebels
The Leland & Gray boys basketball team should be able to make some noise this season with an experienced and balanced scoring attack including Noah Chapin, Colin Nystom, Tyler Russell, Josh Fontaine and Jake Huston.
Zack Peterson also plays tough underneath and can rebound well, while Matt Bizon does a good job of distributing the basketball to his teammates.
However, the Rebels will need to get out on the break in order to counter the fact that they are not very big.
The Lady Rebels are a team with an interesting mix of experience and youth, with first year coach Gregg Morrow looking to his captains, senior Bethany Burdick and junior Aly Marcucci for leadership on the floor.
The youth movement will be led by the freshman tandem of Ashley Goddard and Alex Murrow. Both of these young ladies can score and rebound, and show great poise for their age and experience. Frosh Chelby Nystrom is also looking to make an impact.
Another interesting aspect of this Leland & Gray team is height, featuring a half dozen players over 5'10', a luxury most teams do not possess.
This should allow the Lady Rebels to rebound well and take advantage offensively in the paint and around the basket.
B & B Bulldogs
Scoring should not be a problem for the Burr & Burton boys' hoop team, led by long-range shooter Chris Antonez, Danny Favreau, Joseph Keefe, JJ Conlin, Shane Quintana and Jake Oliver.
BBA also has a deep bench that should certainly pay dividends in the fourth quarter of games.
Because the Bulldogs are not very long, another key component will be on the defensive end of the floor and causing turnovers.
They can score with anyone they face, however how they fair on the defensive end will determine how far this team goes.
The Lady Bulldogs could be a force to be reckoned with, led by junior guard Jenna Hoffman.