Nov. 26, 2008
By Mal Boright
“I thought we looked okay,” Champlain Valley Union High basketball coach Scott Bliss said a day after his charges scrimmaged Hartford High at home on Saturday to top off the opening week of tryouts and practice.
Observer photo by Karen Pike
John Donnelly, a senior on the Champlain Valley Union High basketball team, controls the ball during a scrimmage on Saturday.
The Redhawks have another week and three days of workouts before they begin the new season on Dec. 4 with a trip to Bellows Free Academy of St. Albans. The home opener is the following Saturday afternoon, when Mount Anthony Union High of Bennington comes north.
Bliss has to replace six graduated seniors, the losses including high scoring Ben Brooks and Greg Gause, the 6-foot-7-inch scorer, rebounder and shot blocker.
“We are going to be very athletic,” said Bliss. “We will be able to put five guys on the floor who can handle the ball and shoot. Our issue could be lack of a big man.”
The coach said that while there is no huge presence under the basket, the team will have very good average size, which no doubt means rebounding by committee.
Senior John Donnelly is the tallest of the returnees at 6-foot-4 and, according to Bliss, “can play the post or out on the perimeter,” where he can knock down the treys.
Sophomore Jake Donnelly at 6-foot-2 saw serious playing time last season as a freshman.
Senior Jack Jesset (6-foot-2) is a returning starter and is expected to be a significant presence for the Redhawks, as is 6-foot junior Chris Nigh, who is up from a solid jayvee season a year ago.
Ryan Poirier, a 6-foot senior and 2007-08 starter, and 5-foot-10 junior Chris Beaton, coming off a breakout jayvee season, are among the leaders for the backcourt slots.
Bliss also has seen good work from senior Jordan Duke, a reserve last year, who brings a lot of energy to the backcourt and at 5-foot-9 is even a high riser when rebounds are in the offing.
Chris Banbury, a 5-foot-11 senior, is a transfer from Winooski High and should be a solid performer.
Also in the mix for those valuable game minutes are senior Andrew Leckerling (6-feet), junior Will Hurd (6-foot-2) and sophomores Kevin Lambert (6-foot-2), Andrew Gale (6-foot-1) and Robert Russ (6-feet).
“We are not big, but we have decent size. The question will be, can we compensate athletically for the lack of a really big man,” said Bliss.
The 13-man varsity roster was set after three days of tryouts that involved 23 hopefuls at the varsity level and 39 for jayvee A and B squads.
Earlier this week, the Redhawks were slated to travel to Rutland for another scrimmage. They will wind up the practice game schedule Dec. 1 with a 6 p.m. home session with Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax.