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Trio of Boys Teams Poised to be Powers - TheSportsDept.com

Trio of Boys Teams Poised to be Powers

The trio of Glastonbury, East Catholic and Enfield all again have a chance to have excellent teams and playoff success after being three of the best area programs last season.

Glastonbury went 18-7 overall last season and advanced to the semifinals of the Division II state tournament before falling to ultimate champion Immaculate. The Tomahawks have nine seniors, and return one of the area’s best players in senior Aaron Latham, who averaged over 18 points and 4 assists per game and earned second team All-State honors. Glastonbury beat Bloomfield 69-65 in its first game.

Head coach Jim Vaughan certainly believes the Tomahawks experience will be an advantage against opponents.

“Our experience is very important. These guys have played together for a long time and should have their experience to fall back on when games are close.”

When asked about his top players, Vaughan cited seniors Freddie Thomas, Drew Daniels, Andrew Sullivan, Jack Shea and Cam Stiepock, all seniors, in addition to Latham. He praised the group’s well-rounded games, toughness and experience.

Vaughan discussed the approach the team wants to take on offense and defense.

“(On offense) We want to share the ball and get great shots on offense and find the mismatches we may have. We want to play hard man-to-man defense, making the other team earn everything they get.”

East Catholic is again expected to be one of the state’s top teams and is ranked in multiple polls, including second in the GameTime Ct poll. The Eagles are looking for redemption after last year’s playoff failure. They entered the I tournament as its second seed with a 25-1 record, but were shocked in the quarterfinals. For one of the state’s top teams, however, East Catholic has gone through a lot of overturn in its roster. It lost stars Matt Veretto and Trey Hall to graduation and transfer. However, the Eagles still have star senior guard Joe Reilly, who averaged 21 points and 6 rebounds last year while shooting 48 percent from three. More importantly, they welcome senior Jaylin Hunter, who moved to the area from Nebraska. Hunter averaged 14.8 points for his squad last year, and is known for excellent defense. Other important players for East Catholic should have are athletic junior guard Matt Knowling and senior forwards Sam Walch, and Matt Byam. The Eagles defeated Hillhouse 67-46 in its first game.

Enfield returns many of its top players and looks capable of going on a similar run to last season, when it advanced to the III semis before losing to Avon at the buzzer, finishing 20-5. Senior guard Kyle Menaker should be the Eagles top players after averaging 14.4 points and 8.2 rebounds last season. Junior forward Wyatt Raymond and senior guard Christian Pasini averaged 9.7 and 8.9 points, respectively. Enfield loses Jon Archer, who scored 28.6 a game. EHS defeated Plainville 75-70 in its opener.

RHAM is the final area team to have not suffered a loss yet, defeating Bristol Eastern 59-42. It is a promising start for a program that went 3-17 last season, and a squad that has little varsity experience. Seniors Cal Redman and junior Alex Banas should be the Rams top players.        

Senior-laden Suffield has started 1-1, with an impressive 49-22 win against Windsor Locks. Senior guard Dave Danek led the way with 15 points, and senior forward Jared Lobo had 10 in the win. The Wildcats went 7-13 last season.

Rockville went 13-8 last season, suffering a tough-first round loss in IV, but enters the season with uncertainty after losing four seniors. Senior forwards Lorezo Percy, All-NCCC last season, and Justin Collins were described by head coach Mike Barile as “bigger, stronger athletes that attack and finish around the basket.” Guards Nolan Storo (senior) and Alex Deane (junior) should each play valuable roles on offense.

Barile said junior and senior talent is moving to the varsity squad from the junior varsity squad, and discussed what the process of effectively replacing the graduated players will require.

“The key to managing transition for the guys moving varsity is learning.  The pace of play at the varsity level, along with decision making, defensive intensity, and overall communication on and off the basketball court, is a big step up from junior varsity. The key to making this transition begins every day in practice with the coaching staff teaching and developing our players in drills and live-game situations,” he said. “There will be bumps along the way, but our players will continue to develop and get better every day as they transition to varsity level athletes”. 

Barile also discussed the style of basketball the Rams will play.

“The motto for our team this year is “Run. Talk. Win.” This relates to one of our strengths this season is the speed and athleticism of many of our athletes. We will look to capitalize on this strength by playing more of an up-tempo style of play compared to last season both offensively and defensively. The discipline and decision making to play this style of basketball takes a lot of learning and practice. But I am confident that this is something that we can continue to improve upon as the season progresses.”

Barile said his team’s goal is to get better every day, and that their ultimate goal is to win conference and state tournament games, which would be the first time in 10 years. “We look forward to continuing the mission of restoring Rockville athletics pride to the school and community that we began last year.”

South Windsor lost four starters from last year’s squad, which finished 7-13. Juniors Justice Ellison, Luke Reed and Trevor Anthony are expected to be its top players. The Bobcats suffered a tough 73-72 loss to Platt in its opener.

Tolland lost three starters from last year’s 5-15 team, but still has solid experience with four seniors. Junior Brian Geitner will look to improve on an impressive sophomore season. The Eagles were edged 50-48 by Berlin in the season opener.

Ellington is the one local team that has not played a game yet. Expectations are high for the Knights, as they return three starters from a 12-12 squad that won a IV tournament game.  Top players for EHS should be senior center Colin Garrow and guards Anthony Beasley (senior) and Jacob Srejna. Head coach Bob Freitas said he believed Ellington will improve from last year, putting it in position to make a longer tournament run.  

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