action:article | category:SPORTS21 | adString:SPORTS21 | zoneID:40

Home » Sports » High School Sports

December 12. 2013 9:59PM

NHIAA Boys' Basketball Preview: Top dogs still have lots of bite

Manchester Central's Brett Hanson (11) goes up for a shot as Conant's Robert O'Brien watches during their game at the Coaches For A Cause Basketball Tournament host at Alvirne High School in Hudson Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)

Players to Watch

Division I: Sr. G Cam Meservy (Bedford); Sr. G Rich Ruffin (Winnacunnet); Sr. G Jordan Lates (Nashua North), Jr. G Michael Felix (Salem); Sr. F Carmen Giampetruzzi (Trinity); Jr. F Wenyen Gabriel (Trinity); Jr. G Brett Hanson (Central); Sr. F John Martin (Central); Sr. G Eric Gendron (Merrimack); Sr. C Max Medley (Exeter); Jr. G/F Kobongo Ngalakulondi (Memorial); Sr. F Tyler Brown (Alvirne).

Division II: Jr. G Jourdain Bell (Bishop Brady); Sr. G Nick Lazar (Oyster River); Sr. G Jake Vaiknoras (Pelham); Soph. G Kevin Brown (Pelham); Sr. G Colin Sullivan (Plymouth); Sr. G Pat Welch (Pembroke); Jr. F Dominic Timbas (Pembroke); Sr. G Dominick Morrill (Lebanon); Sr. F Andrew Lowman (Windham); Sr. F Pat Glynn (Portsmouth).

Division III: Sr. G Robert O'Brien (Conant); Sr. F Eli Hodgson (Conant); Sr. G Kyle Carland (Conant); Jr. G/F Andrew Houde (Newport); Sr. F Zach Bergeron (Campbell); Jr. G Jared Stauffeneker (Mascenic).

Division IV: Sr. G Jimmy Stanley (Epping); Sr. C Roger Larrivee (Derryfield); Sr. F Max Anderson (Derryfield); Soph. G Issaiah Chappell (Sunapee); Jr. G Jordan Litts (Wilton-Lyndeborough); Sr. F James Fitzgerald (Sunapee); Sr. G Chris Perkins (Pittsfield); Fr. G Xenthios Cyr (Pittsfield); Sr. G. Bailey Johnson (Profile); Jr. G Jeremiah Boulter (Concord Christian).

Familiar faces, new places
The following players are among those who played for an NHIAA school last season, but have since transferred: Senior G Tim Preston (Nashua South to Lawrence Academy, Groton, Mass.); Sr. G Chad Knighton (Lisbon to Holderness); Jr. G Luke Testa (Pinkerton Academy to Trinity); Sr. C Robert Wilson (Londonderry to Pembroke); Sr. guard Adam Presutti (Merrimack Valley to Pembroke).

You don't have to look hard to find the NHIAA boys' basketball favorites in each division this season. In most cases, the school that won it all last March is the team to beat in 2013-14 as well.

That's the situation in Divisions I, II and III, where Trinity of Manchester (Division I), Pembroke Academy (Division II) and Conant of Jaffrey (Division III) all appear to have the necessary pieces to win a second championship in as many years.

With Lisbon, last season's Division IV champion, in rebuilding mode, the Derryfield School of Manchester looks like the favorite in Division IV. Derryfield lost to Lisbon in last year's title game.

Plenty can change between now and tournament time, but these are the teams that will likely battle to be No. 1 in each division during the coming months:

Division I

A Trinity-Manchester Central parlay might be a wise investment, since Division I looks like a two-team race between the Pioneers and the Little Green.

Trinity isn't short on talent or experience. The Pioneers have two of the top players in the division in senior forward Carmen Giampetruzzi and junior forward Wenyen Gabriel. Gabriel is almost fully recovered from a fractured tibia.

There's also experience in the backcourt with seniors Patrick Keefe, Ryan Otis and Brad Rhoades. The Pioneers also added junior guard Luke Testa, a transfer from Pinkerton Academy in Derry.

"We have a nice corps coming back," Trinity coach Dave Keefe (Patrick's father) said. "They can all get up and down the floor, but Central is the most talented and deepest team in the state."

Central returns four starters from a team that went 16-4 last season. The returnees include senior Dawson Dickson, a three-year starter at point guard; and junior guard Brett Hanson, who could be one of the top scorers in the state.

The Little Green also added 6-foot-4 senior forward John Martin, a transfer who lived in Florida last year. Central coach Doc Wheeler said Martin has a chance to be one of the better players in the league.

"We didn't finish the way we wanted to last year," Wheeler said. "We expect to be better than we were last year."

Bedford, Bishop Guertin of Nashua, Exeter, Londonderry, Manchester Memorial, Merrimack and Winnacunnet of Hampton are among the teams that could finish in the top eight.

Division II

The Division II championship looks like it's Pembroke's to lose. At least that's how many opposing coaches see it.

The Spartans went unbeaten last season and return one of the state's top players in senior guard Pat Welch, who averaged 22.8 points per game as a junior. Other returnees include senior forward Kafani Williams, 6-foot-5 forward Dominic Timbas and 6-foot-4 forward Cameron Taylor. Pembroke also added three transfers who are all at least 6-foot-7, two of whom are waiting to hear about their eligibility.

"I don't know why they wouldn't be eligible," Pembroke coach Matt Alosa said. "They'll make us deeper, make us a better team."

Lebanon, Pelham, Plymouth and Portsmouth are among the teams in the next tier below Pembroke.

"It seems like the target is always on our back," Alosa said. "It's always a big game when you play Pembroke."

Division III

Conant won the program's 10th title — and sixth in the last eight years — last season, and the Orioles will have an excellent chance to collect title No. 11 this winter.

Conant will rely on guards Robert O'Brien and Kyle Carland, and forward Eli Hodgson. All three were starters on the team that beat Campbell of Litchfield in last season's Division III championship game. NIck Panagiotes, the first player off the Conant bench last season, is also back.

"If we want to reach our goals this year we are going to have to commit to defense and rebounding," Conant coach Eric Saucier said. "We are quick and fast, but after Eli are not big."

Newport is another team to keep an eye on this season. The Tigers won a program-record 21 games last season and return shooting guard Andrew Houde, who averaged 22.2 points per game last season.

"I think the top four teams in Division III this year will be Berlin, Conant, Newport and Hopkinton," Saucier said. "Somersworth and Campbell are always good and should be right in the mix."

Division IV

Derryfield returns six players, including four starters, from last season's runner-up team. The returning starters are 6-foot-7 center Roger Larrivee (9.5 ppg), guard/forward Bennett Doherty (8.1 ppg), shooting guard Tyler Zorn (9.6 ppg) and 6-foot-4 forward Max Anderson (9.7 ppg). All four are seniors.

"I think we have the potential to be pretty good," Derryfield coach Rob Bradley said. "You still have to play the games and get it done."

Derryfield has reached the Class S/Division IV semifinals in each of the last four years, and advanced to the championship game twice during that span. The Cougars lost to Lisbon in both of those championship-game appearances.

"You have to play the season out and you have to stay healthy," Bradley said. "There are a lot of good teams out there."

Epping and Sunapee are among those good teams. The Blue Devils have a new coach in Sean Young, but also have one of the top players in the division in senior guard Jimmy Stanley. Sunapee returned four starters from a team that was seeded No. 10 in last year's tournament and lost to Epping in the first round.

"Derryfield is clearly the favorite," Newmarket coach Jamie Hayes said. "They return a ton of size and experience. The next group is Colebrook, Littleton, Sunapee and Epping.

 NH Sports Angle more
Links to news and happenings around the world of sports with a Granite State connection, updated daily.

NHMS, Miller Lite extend deal for another 3 years

NASCAR: Who the Vegas wise guys like heading into Loudon

Goalie Danny Tirone to enroll at UNH for second semester after star's suspension for domestic violence

'Smoke' blows into New Hampshire with the law in his rear-view mirror

Man found unconscious at Winchester Speedpark Saturday

Too young to drive, but old enough for NHMS

Police examine speed, possible horseplay in golf cart fatality

Mass. man, 27, dies in golf cart accident at The Links at Outlook

Hanover's Sarah Groff competes in the women's triathlon final during the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Hanover Olympian in spotlight at Las Vegas Super Sprint

FHL makes it official, team planned for Berlin will play in North Adams, Mass. instead

Can NH soccer star Charlie Davies make a comeback?

Inside NIKEs secret sports lab; born in Exeter, now located in Oregon.

Concord Monitor decries gender pay gap in professional tennis

FHL franchise slated for Berlin may go to North Adams, Mass. instead

Eagles' Kelly says he learned his offense by studying defense while at UNH

Former Concord area youth baseball coach sentenced to 30 more years in prison

Maine boxer Brandon Berry making Fight to Educate history

Hudson family, classmates working to keep Alvirne soccer standout Raul Stedile in U.S.

Israel unrest moves meet for NH swim star

Race date for Oxford 250 moved from July to Aug. 30 next year

NH's Groff a highlight for U.S. at ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final

Maine fighters Lamour, Berry on New Hampshire boxing card

Q&A with Matt Bonner as he weighs free agency


 New Hampshire Events Calendar


Upcoming Events

 New Hampshire Business Directory