H.S. boys' basketball / 2012-13 preview

Ledyard's Darnay Gray helped lead the Colonels to 21-7 record last season with a berth in the ECC tournament championship game and a trip to the Class M state semifinals.
Ledyard's Darnay Gray helped lead the Colonels to 21-7 record last season with a berth in the ECC tournament championship game and a trip to the Class M state semifinals. Tim Cook/The Day Buy Photo

ECC LARGE

East Lyme

Coach: James Cunningham (2nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Wade McNamara, Sr. G Kevin Foster.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Nick Geary, Sr. G Anthony Carambot, Jr. F Dean Beebe.

Outlook: The Vikings must rebuild after losing five seniors who played significant minutes. McNamara provides experience and will be a steadying influence in the backcourt, but newcomers will have to grow up fast for East Lyme to be competitive in the always strong Large Division.

Fitch

Coach: Chad Fleming (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Aaron Hill, Sr. F Riley Pyzalski, Sr. G Kevin Manzanares, Sr. G Judeah Dunn, Jr. G Marc Evans, So. F Kendrick Boss.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Pete Aldrich, Sr. G Izzy Davila, Sr. G Tristan Hurley, Jr. F Devonte Anderson, Jr. G Bobby Johnston, Jr. F Vernon Powe, Jr. F David Porter, So. G Mario Graham, So. G Johnathan Floyd.

Outlook: Fleming expects some early growing pains as he brings a new system to a team that has some experience, but also plenty of new faces. But the Falcons are talented and will dangerous as the season goes on.

New London

Coach: Craig Parker (18th year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Keith Porter, Sr. G Sam Miranda, So. G DeAnte Bruton, Jr. G Dominique Benson, So. G C.J. Parker, Sr. F Rameik Williams.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Josh Maynard, So. G Seth Lake, So. G Collin Sawyer, Sr. G Ahmond Gomez, Jr. F De'Vonta Robinson, Jr. G Brandon DelaCruz, Fr. G Landon Peabody.

Outlook: The Whalers won the ECC Large Division, their fifth straight ECC tournament title and went 24-3 last season, losing in the Class LL semifinals. All-stater Kris Dunn, Doug Henton, Malcolm Simmons, Khaleed Field and Voghens Larrieux were among graduation losses. Porter is among the league's top players, but will have some new faces on the court with him. Parker says the expectations remain the same: win as many games as possible and improve as the season progresses.

NFA

Coach: Neal Curland (17th year)

Key returnees: Sr. G K.J. Robinson, Sr. F Ryan Lusk, Sr. F Denzel Lancaster, Sr. G Pat Kudej, Jr. G Marcus Outlow, Jr. G Desmond Miller.

Top newcomers: Jr. G Ramel Williams, Jr F Nick Crooks, Jr. F Mike Ryan, Jr. G-F Ibo Rivera, Jr. G Nixon Bernard, Sr. F Jerimiah Joseph.

Outlook: NFA has all the ingredients - size, speed and experience - to make a run at the Large Division and ECC tournament titles. Lancaster and Lusk provide Curland with a physical presence inside while Robinson and Outlow are two of the ECC's quickest guards.

ECC MEDIUM

Ledyard

Coach: Dave Cornish (2nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Thomas Whipple, Sr. C Christopher Gill, Sr. G John Rainey, Sr. G Jaquontee Reels, Sr. F Evan Stockman, Jr. F Darnay Gray, Jr. F Khary Childs, Jr. G Matt Charette, So. G River Thomas.

Top newcomers: Sr. C-F Chris Turner, Sr. G Kensy Desir, Sr. G Jordan Souvenance, So. F Phyllip Thomas.

Outlook: Not only are the Colonels favored to win the division, they may have the team capable of ending New London's reign as ECC tournament champion. Cornish guided Ledyard to a 21-7 record in his rookie season that included a trip to the ECC tournament final and the Class M semis. All five starters return for the Colonels, led by a pair of All-Area performers - Gray and Whipple. With talent and depth at all positions, Ledyard has the ability to play on the final day of the season at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Montville

Coach: Ben Stone (1st year)

Key returnees: Sr. G-F Nick Clemons, Sr. G Dominic Walmsley, Jr. F Thomas Podeszwa, Jr. G A.J. Fortenberry, Jr. G Gregory Benjamin, Jr. G Terrell Witherspoon, So. C Patrick Podeszwa, So. G Chance Collier, So. G Robert Grimes, So. F Buddy Dewaine.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Tyrik Moscat, Jr. G-F Isaiah Hernandez, Jr. F Alex Cornish, Fr. F T.T. Bowens, Fr. G Chris Benjamin, Fr. G Joel Greenwood.

Outlook: Stone begins his rookie season with a team that features a nice blend of youth and experience. The Indians will have a tough time competing with the division's heavyweights, but Montville has improved and Stone believes a postseason berth is within reach.

Stonington

Coach: Tim Payne (1st year)

Key returnees: Jr. G Jackson Donahue, Sr. G Tim Ferraro, Sr. G Chris Bovino, Sr. G-F John Mathews, Sr. F Dan Mansfield.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Divante White, Jr. F Willie Harris, Jr. G Steven Zelepos, Jr. G Jack Dipollino, Jr. F C.J. Dippolino, Fr. G Matt Donahue.

Outlook: Payne, the former St. Bernard coach, replaces Mike Reyes. The Bears have one of the ECC's top scoring threats in Jackson Donahue, and Payne believes Stonington is poised to contend for division honors and return to the postseason.

Waterford

Coach: Greg Gwudz (3rd year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Jordan Hamler, Jr. G Danny Martin, Sr. C David Willox.

Top newcomers: Sr. G Regi Jones, Sr. G Ryan Brouwer, Jr. G Donny Craig, Jr. G Schnedier Jean-Pierre, Jr. F Jesse Coates, Jr. C Nick LaFever, So. F Connor Lewis, So. G Isaiah Jones, Jr. F Jacob Peabody.

Outlook: Gwudz coached the Lancers to a 25-2 season and the Class M state championship a year ago, the first in program history. All five starters from that team have graduated, including a pair of first team all-state performers - center Nolan Long and point guard Geary McLeod. But Hamler and Martin played major roles off the bench last season and Willox played some solid minutes in reserve. Despite some inexperience, Gwudz loves Waterford's chemistry during the preseason and feels depth will be a strong point.

ECC SMALL

Wheeler

Coach: Neal Cobleigh (5th season)

Key returnees: Jr. F Troy Stefanski, Sr. F Jake Sylvestre, So. G Jacob Raggon, So. G T.J. Condon, So. G Nik Wood, So. F Max Reck.

Top newcomers: Fr. G Mike Dellaporta, Sr. G-F Nate Storey, Sr. G-F Alfredo Carlson, Sr. F Pat Fitzgerald, Jr. G-F Andrew Swift, Jr. F Matt McGowan.

Outlook: The Lions went through some major growing pains a year ago, finishing 2-18 and playing a number of freshmen at the varsity level. The good news: The freshmen are now sophomores and Cobleigh's roster has almost doubled (from 11 to 21). "They are committed to erase the sting of last season," said Cobleigh, who believes Wheeler can be competitive in the Small Division.

OTHERS

Grasso Tech

Coach: Gregg Antoch (10th year)

Key returnees: Sr. F Robert Feliciano, Jr. F J'Quan Monroe, Sr. G Steve Robarge.

Top newcomers: So. G Joe Diaz, So. G Bryan Cespedes, Sr. G Joseph Foltz, So. F Kevin Philebert.

Outlook: Antoch believes the Eagles will be competitive in the Constitution State Conference. Grasso has excellent senior leadership and some good, young talent. If the newcomers mature quickly, the Eagles have the ability to contend for a postseason berth.

Norwich Tech

Coach: Jeff Brown (2nd year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Dan Paul, Jr. G Tyriece Burke.

Top newcomers: So. G Mack Osias, So. G Mike Froscello, So. G Steve Sieczkowski.

Outlook: The Warriors have strong senior leadership from Paul, but the ability of some young, inexperienced players to develop will determined the type of success Norwich Tech will have in the CSC.

Old Lyme

Coach: Kirk Kaczor (12th year)

Key returnees: Sr. G Andrew Tyrol, Sr. F George Logan, Sr. F Slater Gregory, Sr. G Matti Fuller.

Top newcomers: Sr. G Paul Burdick, Sr. F Aiden O'Donnell, Jr. F Danny Chapman, So. C Liam Corrigan, So. G Zac Abrahamsson.

Outlook: Captains Tyrol and Logan are three-year starters and both averaged in double figures last season. The Wildcats look to improve on a 12-11 record, but Kaczor says the other seniors will be the key to how the season goes in the Shoreline Conference.

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