High school boys’ basketball outlook
Coach: Derek Hamilton (2nd year)
Last year: 4-14, did not make tournament
Returning players: Jared Clough, sr., C; Kaleb Brace, sr., G/F; Bret Spaulding, sr., G/F; Pedro Perez, sr., G; Tyler Rolfe, jr., F; Matt LeClair, jr., G; Chris Duggan, so., G
Top newcomer: Adam Prout, sr., G
Outlook: Belmont returns a veteran squad to the hardwood, with seven players, including four starters, returning to the roster. Among those returning are leading scorers Spaulding (12 points per game) and Brace (10.3 ppg), along with leading rebounder Clough, who should solidify the Raiders in the paint. “With a deeper bench and versatility on both sides of the ball, we are able to mix up our defenses, get out in transition and execute in the half court,” Coach Hamilton said. “While roles on the team are defined, the next step will be buying into those roles and committing to improving on a daily basis.”
Teams to beat: Conant, Prospect Mountain, Hopkinton
Coach: Lucas Croteau (1st year)
Last year: 5-14, lost in play-in
Returning starters: Dan Crisman, sr., G; Dylan Huddleston, sr., F
Outlook: Croteau becomes Bow’s fourth coach in the last four years, succeeding Chris Gaudreau (2004-10), Dave Michaud (2011) and Mark Stewart (2012). Croteau is just 23, graduated from Southern New Hampshire University this year, and has never been a head coach. But the former Spaulding High star has worked at various camps and AAU programs, and he played for four years under esteemed SNHU Coach Stan Spirou, who encouraged him to apply for the Bow job. The Falcons are athletic and have good height in the backcourt, and Croteau will try to use those strengths by running and pressing often with a four-guard lineup. Crisman is the go-to guy, Huddleston will anchor the interior, and the Falcons will also look for production from Matt Ehrenberg, Alex Wright, Colby Desmarais and Matt Sanford.
Coach: Jim Cilley (1st year)
Last year: 11-8, lost in first round
Returning starters: Kody Benwell, sr., F; Jake Jameson, sr., G
Top newcomers: Dana Bean, fr.; Kenny Torres, fr.
Outlook: Cilley, the 2011 State Am golf champion, takes on his first head coaching job after being a varsity assistant for three years at Belmont, where he also played, and for two years at Bedford. In Benwell and Jameson, Cilley has two talented and skilled returners who were central figures in Franklin’s run to the D-VI football championship this fall. Seniors Myles Lynch and Sam Barry, junior Isaias Muniz, and sophomore Bruce Carey all saw varsity time last year and will be called on even more time this season. Cilley also likes his team’s athleticism, work ethic and blend of youth and experience.
Coach: Scott Drapeau (1st year)
Last year: 6-14, lost in first round
Returning players: Dan Kulbacki, sr.; Viktor Montanez, sr.; Josh Gould, jr.; Ian Robie, jr.; Max Parenteau, jr.; Brett Bennett, jr.
Top newcomers: Robert Armstrong, sr.; Joey Gillett, sr.; Troy Girard, so., Mike Legare, so.; Rodd Montea, so.; Austin Wheeler, so.; Brendan Winchester, so.
Outlook: Drapeau moves from the H-D girls’ team (5-14 last year) to the boys’ side. The new coach feels like he has a young group of players, but believes they can be competitive if they rebound and play defense.
Teams to beat: “Everyone.”
Coach: David Chase (12th year)
Last year: 16-5, lost in semifinals
Returning starters: Steve Auger, sr., G, 6-0; Liam McNicholas, jr., F/G, 6-2; Jake Nelson, jr., C, 6-3; Harry Legier, sr., F/C, 6-3
Top newcomers: Gabe Nicholas, jr., F/C, 6-5; Luke Luneau, so., F/C, 6-3; Cooper Cyr, so., G, 5-10; Sam Winslow, jr., G/F, 6-1
Outlook: The Hawks return a solid nucleus from last year’s final four team. Hopkinton has athleticism at every position, plenty of size for D-III, and good depth. If they can handle defensive pressure from other teams, the Hawks should put themselves in good position to make another tournament run.
Teams to beat: Conant, Campbell, Somersworth, Berlin, Bow, Newport
Coach: Nate Camp (4th year)
Last year: 2-16, did not make tournament in Div. II
Returning starters: None.
Top newcomers: Trent Noordsij, fr., G, 5-8; James Bromwell, so., F, 6-3; Zach Beltz, so., F, 6-3; James Scherer, jr., F, 6-6; Tim Berube, sr., F, 6-0; George Benoit, sr., G, 5-8
Outlook: Kearsarge makes the move down from Division II to III in hopes of being more competitive, but they’ll also be faced with a challenging D-III schedule. But despite making the move with no returning starters, Kearsarge has a solid group of newcomers with which to rebuild. The Cougars “will depend upon their athleticism and quickness on defense to provide energy on the offensive end,” Coach Camp said. “Strong chemistry and a team centered philosophy will enable the Cougars to compete against a talented D-III schedule.”
Teams to beat: Conant, Hopkinton, Stevens, Campbell
Coach: Kevin Dame (2nd year)
Last year: 2-16, did not make tournament
Returning starters: Zach Plourde, sr., G; Parker Normand, sr., F; Sean Connor, sr., F; Tommy Mahoney, sr., G; Spencer Pevin, jr., G; Austin Hunt, sr., G/F
Top newcomers: Christian Serrano, fr., G; Tucker Normand, so., G
Outlook: Coach Dame listed his team’s depth and wealth of varsity experience as strengths, noting that he expects the Bears will look to get up and down the court quickly. A weakness is the team’s lack of size and lack of a main go-to player. That, however, could also serve as a strength, since there won’t be one specific player for opponents to try to shut down. “I think we will be very competitive night in and night out and the guys have been working as hard as any team I have coached to get better every day,” Dame said.
Teams to beat: Hopkinton, Conant, Campbell
Coach: Aaron Lewis (5th year)
Last year: 7-12, lost in first round
Returning starters: Jesse Kelley, Sr., G/F, 5-11; Nick Peters, sr., G/C, 6-3
Top newcomer: Jonathan Taylor, fr., G, 5-10
Outlook: The Kingsmen have decent height, with five players going at least 6 feet, and a solid nucleus to build upon as they try to take it a step further than last season. The team is optimistic that the new program in place will result in a winning season. Concord Christian will continue to look to Peters as the team leader, but has a promising younger group to back him in the scoring realm.
Coach: Jay Darrah (11th year)
Last year: 13-7, lost in quarterfinals
Returning starter: Elias Doucette, sr., G, 6-2
Top newcomers: Tyler Stockman, sr., F, 6-2; Riley Lebel, sr., F, 6-1; Kris Perkins, jr., G, 6-1; Max Tuttle, jr., G, 5-10
Outlook: Pittsfield returns just one starter (Doucette) and one other player with any significant varsity experience (senior forward/center Tyler Booth), so the Panthers will be looking to find the identity as a team and to adjust individual roles as the season progresses. With four starters standing 6 feet or taller, Pittsfield will be tall for its division. “We hope that players like Stockman and Lebel with be able to develop rapidly and we will look to use our height and size to control the offensive and defensive boards,” Coach Darrah said. “Booth, Doucette and Perkins have taken huge strides in working on their offensive game over the summer and I hope that will translate into a balanced offensive attack.”
Teams to beat: Newmarket, Lisbon, Derryfield, Littleton, Epping, Colebrook