March 12, 2009
By Mal Boright
With only four graduating this spring from the Champlain Valley Union High boys basketball team, the battle for positions next winter is going to be epic.
Some 13 members of the 16-4 junior varsity team will be looking to move up, and 13 into four has historically not been an easy fit.
But as varsity coach Scott Bliss and jayvee coach Seth Emerson might say, bring it on.
Some of it might have started Wednesday night, when the jayvees had their break-up get together at the school, including a dessert and a hoop contest between the team members and their parents — or at least those parents who brought sneakers.
“I’m playing with the parents,” said Emerson.
Okay guys, there was an opportunity to make a statement for next season, either by holding the coach scoreless, or leaving him flat on the deck with a brilliant move to the hoop for an easy layup.
Monday afternoon, Emerson summed up the Little Redhawks’ season as “a good one with steady improvement.”
The coach considered the highlight a 10-game winning streak after the unit opened with a 3-2 mark.
“Some of those games we were winning big,” he recalled.
Emerson liked the improvement shown by all of his team members, but thought 6-foot-1 sophomore Mike Clayton had an especially solid season.
“He averaged 12 to 14 points a game and had a couple of 20-point nights, which is hard to do because you are not on the floor all that much,” he said. “Mike is a slashing forward who is athletic and likes to run and is good at getting the ball down court.”
The work of sophomore guards Ryan Boland and captain Jeff Wettstein drew praise from the coach for “keeping us settled down and distributing the ball well.”
Emerson called 6-foot-2 sophomore inside operator Nick Spencer the “most improved” player who is “strong and a monster on the glass” and whose “scoring output increased down the stretch.”
Two freshmen, guard Tucker Kohlasch and 6-foot-2 forward John Keen, were cited for steady improvement and good shooting.
“To go from eighth grade to junior varsity at the high school level is a big jump and they handled it well,” Emerson said.
Sophomores Tino Tomasi and Larry Sweetser were praised for the abundant athleticism that gave them court presence with the speedsters or rebounding against the big guys.
Ryan Pierson, Jacob Grasso, Jason Schneiderman, Tommy Burns and Eoin Karnes were noted for improved shooting skills and all-around court work.
Emerson said he has given each player “some personal skills” to develop over the summer, and added that most if not all will play AAU basketball.
November should bring quite a competition for those varsity openings.