Basketball Battle: Who Will Own the Hardwood this Season?

Avon: The Winged Beavers are coming off their best year since 2000, thanks to an 18-7 record and a playoff appearance. With returners Brandon Arnold, Raheem Spence, Devin Marchitto, Kehinde Aruwajoye, and Jeremy Awe, the Beavers are looking to make it deep into the playoffs to avenge their NEPSAC quarter finals loss to Tabor.

screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-8-13-56-pm     With the talent of much of last years team graduating, Coach Roller has been smart to reload the team with talent, including Filip Petrusev ’18 (a highly sought international prospect), Luka Vasic ’17, and Tyrrell Washinton ’17.  These new acquisitions look to take the Beavers far into the NEPSAC playoffs this time around. This team on paper looks destined for success, but will they be able to put it together?

Kent: After a shaky start to begin their season last year, Kent rebounded and won 14 out of its last 15 games to finish the season. They also went 8-0 in true class A road games; however, their season was cut short last year after they were upset in the semi finals of the NEPSAC playoffs.varsity_2

With the losses of Maxime Boursiquot and Jack Stevens, first and second team All New England players, the void will be a tough one to fill. Head Coach Jason Coulombe has been in this position before and is looking to work his magic to produce yet another winning season.

Taft: Taft has been a consistent basketball team over the years and is looking to add to their resumé as they try to make it to the playoffs for the 13th year of 16. With nine seniors on the team the Rhinos have the ability to make a deep push into the playoffs once again and to add to their impressive win count; since 2005-2006 Taft has won 167 games.

Darius Chester has been a consistent force for the Rhinos, getting double digits points in 10 games last year. Chester had a particularly strong game against Hotchkiss, totaling 8 Points, 7 Rebounds, 5 Assists, and 4 Steals.

"January 10, 2015: Taft School__Taft v Gunnery. Taft Boys' Varsity basketball defeated Gunnery 78-57. (Photo by Robert Falcetti/Taft)"

Chester and his teammates will be able to power the Rhinos to more victories this season.

Westminster: With a disappointing 2016 season in the rear view mirror, Westminster is hoping to make some noise this year in the Founders League. The Martlets have not had much success during the 2000s with only one season with ten wins. Last year was no exception, as Westy finished 4-16.

Their record, however, was not fully representative of their true strength as a team. Despite losing 16 games, five of the Martlets losses were let go by six or fewer points. This team had the talent to win games, but lost key parts of games down the stretch.

With the loss of stud Chris Jones ’16, the Martlets are going to have to make up his production with fresh faces. Hopefully Westy can get over the hump and break their long playoff drought.

Loomis: Loomis is looking to continue building on the improvements that they have made the past few seasons. With a 12-13 record last season, Loomis came inches away from a .500 season; the Pelicans lost four of their games by six or fewer points. Perhaps Loomis’ most impressive performance was a loss in which they fell to powerhouse Cheshire by only seven points.

The success of newcomers Nelson Boachie-Yiadom ’18, who is a 6-9 Englishman, and PG Brennan Morris, who has a killer basketball instinct, will be key for the Pelicans this season.

Kingswood Oxford: With a 7-15 record last year, their best in three years, Kingswood is looking to build on that success and keep improving. The previous two years combined they only had three wins, with seven they more than doubled that total in one season.

Kingswood is looking to keep climbing in the rankings and maybe make a run at the playoffs. With impressive wins against Choate and Loomis, Kingswood is looking like they are turning the corner by beating good teams in the Founders League last season.

Hotchkiss: With an 8th seed playoff appearance and first round defeat, Hotchkiss is looking to build on the moderate success that they enjoyed last season. After losing two key starters, Elijah Bailey and Christian Porydzy, Hotchkiss will have a tough time filling those big shoes. Hotchkiss does have something in their favor though, they like to slow the game down and use grit to pull out games. This slow-pace of game is a testament to how much trust Hotchkiss places in their defense.

The Bearcats gritty and defensive game usually results in low scoring games in which hard work and energy triumphs pure skill. Hotchkiss was able to use this in their favor as they used a blue collar style of play on both sides of the ball. Hopefully their defense will be able to win them plenty of games this year as well.

Choate: After finishing with a 6-18 record in the 2015-16 season, Choate is looking to bounce back in a big way.  Last season, the Wild Boars let other teams go on huge runs to end games all too often. Choate has bv-basketballbeen a steady program in years past and has the talent to continue that trend in the 2016-2017 season.

Lead by Coach Andrew Dawson, the Wild Boars run a persistent offense that can dominate fastbreaks. They hope to be able to rebound this year with six seniors on the team, and are looking leave last season in the rear-view mirror and start fresh.

Trinity Pawling: With a disappointing 6-14 record last year, TP is looking to wipe that from their memory and start hot this season. In the 2014 season they were able to win 15 games,  so last year was a down year for the Pride. The Pride have a group of talented players coming back this year including returning seniors Jonathan Girard, Kevin Salis, and Jason Berkeley, who all hope to right the ship for TP.

With last season behind them, the Pride look to bounce back with a hardhat approach. This team won’t have the talent, or the knockdown sharpshooter, but they will have the gritty effort, Such as play defense for a full 30 seconds or make the easy inside buckets. They are well coached by William Casson, an 11 year veteran of Trinity. This team seems poised for a comeback, and have their sights set on the playoffs.

 

Photo credits:

Taft School

West Hartford News

Westminster School

Choate Athletics