H.S. boys' basketball / 2017-18 preview capsules

East Lyme's Dev Ostrowski brings the ball up court during an ECC tournament game against NFA last season. The junior, a member of The Day's All-Area team a year ago, returns to lead the Vikings. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
East Lyme's Dev Ostrowski brings the ball up court during an ECC tournament game against NFA last season. The junior, a member of The Day's All-Area team a year ago, returns to lead the Vikings. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

ECC Division I

East Lyme

Coach: Jeff Bernardi (4th year).

Key returnees: Jr. G Dev Ostrowski, Jr. G Luke Leonard, Sr. G J.R. Gandenberger, So. F T.J. Horner, Jr. F Jacob Peters.

Outlook: These are optimistic times at East Lyme, which returns three starters, including all-state guard Ostrowski and ECC Division I all-star Leonard from a team that went 11-9 during the regular season and then upset NFA in the ECC tournament quarters before losing to eventual champion Ledyard in the semis. Bernardi believes the Vikings can "make the jump from dark horse to a legitimate contender for the ECC championship. Albeit still a young team, the returning underclassmen earned key experience playing in big games last season. Hopefully that will pay dividends this year."

Fitch

Coach: Charles Silvan (2nd year).

Key returnees: Sr. G Justice Farris, So. G Ajia Brown, So. G Tre Bryant.

Top newcomer: Fr. G Noah Charron.

Outlook: Silvan begins his second season with a young, guard-oriented team that hopes to improve upon last year's 6-14 record. Brown established himself as one of the top up-and-coming players as a freshman when he earned honorable mention All-ECC Division I honors. Said Silvan: "The team is still in the process of establishing guys to learn how to play winning basketball and establishing a standard of performance and participation."

Ledyard

Coach: Dave Cornish (7th year).

Key returnees: Sr. Trevor Hutchins, Sr. Julio Nieves, Sr. Ken Turner, Sr. Xavier Whitmore, Sr. Jack Woodruff, Sr. E.J. Ahlborn, Sr. Stanley Green, So. Eddie Reyes-Suarez.

Top newcomers: Sr. G/F Devin Rickerson, Sr. F Sakye Reels, So. G Jaiden Bickham, Sr. F Elijah Brown Young.

Outlook: The reigning ECC champions must replace the dynamic backcourt scoring duo of Steven Fletcher and Isiah McNair, a pair of 1,000-point scorers, ECC Division I and All-Area picks (Fletcher was also a Class L all-state pick). But Ledyard, which went 21-4 and reached the Class L quarterfinals, returns arguably the ECC's best frontcourt in Hutchins, Nieves and Turner, and Cornish likes his guard rotation, along with the return of Rickerson from a two-year absence. "If our guards can play steady for us and we stay healthy," Cornish said, "I believe we can have another outstanding season."

New London

Coach: Craig Parker (24th year).

Key returnees: Sr. Jalen Benson, Sr. Isaiah Benson, Sr. Eduardo Gonzalez, Sr. Gio Lopez, Sr. Elijah Martinez, Sr. Elijah Parker, Sr. DeVonte Wrighten, Jr. Nick Fleetwood.

Top newcomers: Jr. Richard Henry, So. Syncere Gray, So. Noah James IV, So. Derrick Raymond.

Outlook: The Whalers must replace all-state big man Major Roman from a team that went 15-8 a year ago and reached the Class M second round, but Parker returns an experienced group led by Jalen Benson, an ECC Division I all-star a year ago, and Gonzalez, an honorable mention pick. New London should remain one of the ECC's elite programs and challenge for division and tournament honors. Parker has also beefed up his nonconference schedule with games against Danbury, Harford Public, Prince Tech, Weaver, Prince Tech, New Britain (twice) and East Providence (R.I.) to help prepare the Whalers for the state tournament.

NFA

Coach: Chris Guisti (5th year).

Key returnees: Sr. G Alec Gomes, Sr. G Aidan Miller, Sr. G Maloyid Perkins, Sr. G Brenden Sholes, Sr. G Brendan Maher, Sr. F Tyler Briggs, Jr. G Nik Hay.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Bret Wood, Sr. F Elijah Sanchez, Sr. G Evans Sanon, Jr. G Carlos Montrond, Jr. G Andrew Gromko, Jr. G Jack Doubleday, So. G Xavier Marquez, So. G Nolan Molkenthin, Fr. G Mason Jackson.

Outlook: The Wildcats went 18-6 a year ago, shared the ECC Division I title with Ledyard and reached the Class LL quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion Hillhouse. They graduated seniors Tyler Sebastian and Luis Rivera, then lost ECC all-stars Seth Thomas (Putnam Science) and Jalen Graham (Hyde of Maine) to prep schools. But NFA will still be a threat, led by nine seniors who according to Guisti "have played with each other extensively since their freshman year. Their experience and selfless attitude will make us a very balanced team." NFA also welcomes Wood, who played at Waterford last season.

 

ECC Division II

Montville

Coach: Derek Wainright (3rd year).

Key returnees: Sr. G Gennaro Davis, Sr, C John Domijan, Jr. G Marcus Velez, Sr. F Eric Beavin.

Top newcomers: So. F Zach Southard, Jr. G/F Ryan Champagne, Jr. F K.J. Fletcher, Sr. G Nate Bruce, Sr. F Xavier Larkie, Jr. F Naseem McIntosh.

Outlook: The Indians struggled through a 5-14 regular season last year and graduated big man Cameron Collins, a Division II all-star. Wainright, however, is confident Montville will improve this season, especially with a talented group of newcomers. "We need some new faces to produce this season," he said, adding, "This is the most athletic group Montville has seen in years."

Stonington

Coach: John Luzzi (4th year).

Key returnees: Sr. G/F Lennox Deer, So. G Zach Scott, Jr. G RJ Parrilla, Jr. C Jacob Geary.

Top newcomers: Jr. G Marquis Jackson, So. G Justin McKenna, Jr. G David DeFanti, Fr. G Anthony Fry, So. C Ayden Morrison.

Outlook: Center Matt Schmeelk (20 points, 10 rebounds per game) was the biggest graduation loss from a team that went 8-12, but the Bears have depth and talent in the backourt with the return of starters Parrilla (Division II honorable mention pick), Scott and Deer. Scott is Stonington's top 3-point threat and Luzzi is confident that big men Geary and Morrison play well enough up front to keep the Bears competitive within the division.

Waterford

Coach: Bill Bassett (3rd year).

Key returnees: Sr. G Mikey Buscetto, Jr. G Liam Spellman, Sr. F Walker Sutman.

Top newcomers: Sr. G Omar Rahman, Sr. G Eric Pinch, Sr. G Trevor Yeomans, Sr. G Tyler Peretz, Sr. F Max Mazzella.

Outlook: The Lancers are the reigning Division II champions and finished 20-5 after reaching the ECC tournament final and reaching the Class M second round. Buscetto, The Day's All-Area Player of the Year, returns for his final varsity season and, as one of the state's top point guards, will be responsible for helping Waterford continue to play its up-tempo style of basketball. Spellman and Sutman bring plenty of experience to a team that should challenge for ECC divisional and tournament titles while making a deep run in the Division III state tournament.

 

ECC Division III

Wheeler

Coach: Neal Cobleigh (10th year).

Key returnees: So. G Bowen Baker, Sr. G Ryan Condon, Sr. G Chris Caisse, So. F Scott Pion, So. G Clay Carini, Jr. F Mike Warren, So. G/F Ian Spracklin.

Top newcomers: Jr. F Cerek Keramidas, Jr. G Seth Jones, Jr F Liam Patrick, Jr. G/F Nolan Arruda.

Outlook: Despite finishing 4-16 a year ago, Cobleigh was able to give some young players a chance to gain some valuable varsity experience, something he hopes will allow the Lions to be more competitive in a strong division. "Our goals are to prepare, show up and compete hard in every game," Cobleigh said.

 

Others

Grasso Tech

Coach: Greg Antoch (14th year).

Key returnees: Jr. C David White, Jr. F Silus Wiggins, Sr. G Luis Duran, So. G Ethan McAvoy.

Top newcomers: Fr. F Tyreel Dennis, So. G John Parra Tobey.

Outlook: The Eagles must replace seven seniors from a team that went 9-10 a year ago, so Grasso Tech will be a young team this winter as they move into a new league, the Connecticut Technical Conference. Said Antoch: "The players and coaching staff are very excited to work hard at practice everyday and improve."

Norwich Tech

Coach: Jeff Brown (7th year).

Key returnees: Jr. C Don Duca.

Top newcomers: Sr. F Medoche Gustave, Sr. F Jakob Fontaine, Jr. G Brandon Mayersohn, Fr. G Giovani Yeung.

Outlook: The Warriors move to a new conference, the Connecticut Technical Conference, and have a virtually new roster from a year ago. Duca is the lone returning player with experience, but Brown loves the leadership qualities of seniors Gustave and Fontaine. Brown believes Norwich Tech will be competitive within the CTC Charter Oak Division.

Old Lyme

Coach: Kirk Kaczor (16th year).

Key returnees: So. C Aedan Using, Jr. G Quinn Romeo, Quinn Hartmann.

Top newcomers: Sr. G Jacob Coverdale, So. G Ray Doll, So. G Brady Sheffield, Jr. F Olin Fredericks, Sr. F Mason Swaney, So. F Jared Ritchie, So. G Connor Hogan.

Outlook: The Wildcats struggled through a rare losing season a year ago (6-14), and despite losing three starters, Kaczor returns a talented roster that has the ability to be competitive in an always strong Shoreline Conference.

Ledyard's Trevor Hutchins (21), a member of The Day's All-Area team a year ago, rises over Waterford's Walker Sutman for two points during the Colonels' 82-68 win over the Lancers in last season's ECC tournament final. Hutchins is part of an experienced frontcourt that returns for Ledyard this winter. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
Ledyard's Trevor Hutchins (21), a member of The Day's All-Area team a year ago, rises over Waterford's Walker Sutman for two points during the Colonels' 82-68 win over the Lancers in last season's ECC tournament final. Hutchins is part of an experienced frontcourt that returns for Ledyard this winter. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
New London's Jalen Benson, right, leaps from behind to block a shot by Middletown's Aveon Woods during last season's Class L state tournament. Benson is back to help lead the Whalers this winter. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
New London's Jalen Benson, right, leaps from behind to block a shot by Middletown's Aveon Woods during last season's Class L state tournament. Benson is back to help lead the Whalers this winter. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)

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