Berkshire County boys basketball preview
PITTSFIELD — With the boys basketball season set to begin, here is a look at how Berkshire County teams stack up for the upcoming campaigns.
Head Coach: Tom Finnegan (Second year)
Last Season: 4-16
Key Returnees: Matt Reynolds, Josh Sampson, Patrick Finnegan
Lee returns a solid core of players, on a team that experienced growing pains last season. The Wildcats will look to play an up-tempo style, using their speed to create scoring chances in transition. Matt Reynolds will be the catalyst of the offense, but his return from an injury suffered during the Division VI championship football game is uncertain.
In the meantime, the Wildcats will turn to a committee of guards to fill the void. Raf Rivera, Carlos Pena-Guzman and Julian Nejaime will all see time in the back court. Tyler Buratto and Noah Johnson provide strength and rebounding up front, and freshman Ben Harding can provide an inside presence as well.
Head Coach: Scott Sibley (Fifth year)
Last Season: 14-6, Lost in Western Mass Division IV quarterfinals
Key Returnees: Patrick Colvin, Kevin Coakley, Tom Hedges
For the second year in a row, Lenox fell in the Western Mass tournament to Quaboag. In order to get over the hump, the Millionaires will need to replace several starters from last year's team, most notably forward Bailey Patella. Patella, a Division-I prospect, eclipsed the 1000-point mark last season. He's spending his final two years of eligibility at Vermont Academy.
The Millionaires also need to replace sweet-shooting guard Evan Lanoue, as well as post player Dillon Benham.
The Millionaires excelled in transition last year, but without Lanoue and Patella, they may need to adjust their playing style. Senior Patrick Colvin returns and should assume a larger role. Kevin Coakley and Tom Hedges can do the dirty work down low.
Patella and Lanoue spent a lot of time with the ball, without them a more balanced attack could yield more success on offense.
Head Coach: Mike Saporito (Fifth year)
Last Season: 7-10
Key Returnees: Joe Aberdale, Branden Perry, Conor Prince
Monument Mountain was one game away from a Western Mass postseason berth, falling to Mount Greylock in the final game of the season.
That three-point margin hurt Monument last season, but now, the Spartans return several players capable of erasing a three-point lead in seconds.
Joe Aberdale and Branden Perry are two pure shooters that can hurt teams off the dribble as well. Sophomores Conor Prince and Kevin Troiano return at the guard spots with varsity experience.
Even with several capable guards, the Spartans must replace forward Juri Kiin's presence inside.
Without a true post presence, outside shooting will be key.
Head Coach: Bob Thistle (Fifth year)
Last Season: 12-8, lost in Western Mass Division III quarterfinals
Key Returnees: Cal Filson, Zach Ronnow, Pat Storie
Last season Mount Greylock had a senior-heavy team, leading the way to a postseason berth. Now the Mounties must replace those familiar faces — seven seniors in all — with younger players stepping into new roles. Emmett Shepard, Eric Hirsch and Ian Brink's production will be hard to replace, but replacing the presence of 6-foot-8 center Jake Benzinger will be even more daunting.
These Mounties will be smaller than last year, but Thistle is hoping to use traps and presses to capitalize on their quickness.
Cal Filson and Pat Storie will take over in the back court. 6-foot-5 post player Zach Ronnow will man the middle. Sophomore Sean McCormack brings athleticism to perimeter.
Head Coach: Joe Bennett (First year)
Last Season: 1-19
Key Returnees: Cody Tynan, Joey Maynard
Last year was a rough campaign for St. Joe. The Crusaders will be looking to start over again, with its fourth coach in four years. Joe Bennett is taking over as head coach, but he was an assistant with the team last year, bringing some familiarity with his coaching style. He said he's focused on teaching fundamentals and plans to tailor his team to his players.
The Crusaders will look for senior Joey Maynard to shoulder the load offensively and defensively. Maynard is a strong post player, with skills on the perimeter as well. Jamal Beda is a quick guard and Cody Tynan brings depth at the forward positions as well.
Head Coach: Jack Racette (11th year)
Last Season: 12-8, lost in Western Mass Division III semifinals
Key Returnees: Thaylen Harrison, Hayden Bird, Ryan Harrington
Last season, Drury had the luxury of an all-senior starting five, which was a J.P. Levesque buzzer-beater away from advancing to the Western Mass final. Now the Blue Devils must find their rhythm and chemistry with five new starters.
Junior Hayden Bird was a sparkplug off the bench and should continue to grow with increased minutes. Junior Thaylen Harrison brings versatility to the front court. Alex Heck should provide offensive from the guard position, returning to the team for his senior season.
Head Coach: Bill Robinson (25th year)
Last Season: 13-7, lost in Division III state final.
Key Returnees: Jameson Coughlan, Matt Koperniak, Javon Reynolds
Hoosac Valley put together a magical run to the state final, with a postseason filled with clutch plays in critical moments.
A majority of last year's team returns, as a roster with impressive depth should be bolstered from the postseason experience.
Senior Matt Koperniak returns to fill one guard position. He forms a strong one-two punch with senior forward Jameson Coughlan. Coughlan and 6-foot-5 senior forward Javon Reynolds make up a physical front court that's capable of dominating the glass on both ends of the floor. Coughlan is closing in on 1,000 points for his career.
Junior J.P. Levesque will miss a majority of the season with an injury suffered during football season, but Colin Rousseau, Avery Hall and Dahndray Sistrunk all have varsity experience.
Head Coach: Steve Ray (Fifth year)
Last Season: 15-5, lost in Western Mass Division II quarterfinals
Key Returnees: Louis Higuera, Connor McDonough, Anthony Reinhold
Pittsfield returns a long and athletic team that is perfectly suited for its up-tempo style of play. The Generals have versatile wings in Loius Higuera and Conor McDonough. Both can play in transition, but also have the ability to hit jumpers in the half court. Anthony Reinhold takes over at the point guard position full-time, after splitting time with Jerry McDonough and Bryce Daley. He also has the ability to create for others and get his own shot.
Simon Nasif brings a big body in post, and Coach Steve Ray said 6-foot-3 transfer Josh Moore brings high-level athleticism to the back court as well.
Head Coach: Bill Heaphy (16th year)
Last Season: 12-8, lost in Western Mass Division II quarterfinals
Key Returnees: Deonte Sandifer, Trayvon Ringgold, Izaiya Mestre
Taconic returns a junior-heavy roster with several experienced players. The Braves have a dynamic back court in juniors Deonte Sandifer and Izaiya Mestre. Sandifer will spend most of his time at point guard, with Mestre playing off the ball, but the duo can change roles as well. Trayvon Ringgold is one of the few seniors on the team and he'll be the Braves go-to player in post. He adds a shot-blocking and strong rebounding presence, as well.
New players must step up on the wing to replace Charles Davis and Reilly Balcolm. Coach Bill Heaphy said he expects the group of Devon Walker, Bretty Murphy and Anthony Whiteley to fill that void.
With a guard-heavy roster, look for Sandifer and the Braves to push the tempo even more.
Head Coach: Dustin Belcher (Third year)
Last Season: 12-8, lost in Western Mass Division III final
Key Returnees: Cole Morrison, Matt Schneider, Matt Donnelly
Wahconah was one shot away from a Western Mass title, as missed three-pointer sent Hoosac Valley to victory.
The Warriors return a key member of their front court in senior Cole Morrison. However, they'll have to replace All-Berkshire co-MVP Collin Parrott. Parrott was the team's leading scorer and served as a coach on the floor last season.
Now, junior Joe Lavinio will be tasked with running the show at the point guard position. Coach Dustin Belcher said, Lavinio spent valuable time preparing for the starting job on junior varsity and has a high basketball IQ.
Senior Shane Sinopli will see time at the guard positions as well. With Donnelly recovering from a injury suffered during football season, junior Luke Steinman and 6-foot-6 freshman Brandon Roughley could see significant playing time as well.
Head Coach: Jowe Warren (Fourth year)
Last Season: 13-6, lost in Western Mass Division VI first round
Key Returnees: Damontti Conaway, Kenny Krom, Cassius Conaway
Mount Everett returns a young team, looking to build off last year's postseason appearance. Malik Wilbon led an up-tempo team last season, and that responsibly now falls to junior Cassius Conaway. Conaway is quick off the dribble and looks to find teammates in transition. He'll need to learn when to slow it down a gear, limiting the chance for turnovers.
On the wing they'll look to Damontti Conaway for scoring. The senior plays well in transition and can slash to the basket.
The Eagles are hoping post player Kenny Krom can return during the early portion of the season and provide rebounding and shot-blocking. The Conaways and Krom are the only returners with varsity experience. Dan Litchfield and Cavan Brady will provide depth as well.
Head Coach: Luis Carmona (First Year)
Last Season: 14-6, lost in Western Mass Division IV first round
Key Returnees: Dante Cellena, Nick Lincoln, Colin Racette
McCann Tech may have one of the tough tasks of replacing guard Shane Fuller and adjusting to first-year coach Luis Carmona.
Fuller was the Hornets' primary ballhandler, the catalyst of the offense and its go-to scorer on offense. Despite his lack of height, opposing teams game-planned to stop Fuller, allowing his teammates to shine.
Colin Racette will need to expand his role, going from a spot-up shooter to a complete point guard. Replacing Rahmer Vincent on the wing is another question mark. Nick Lincoln and Dante Cellena have the size and strength to provide solid defense and rebounding in the post.
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