Season Preview: Area boys basketball teams getting ready for interesting year

Published on Friday, 5 February 2021 21:13
Written by MATT HORNICK

@MNHornick

Winter sports were the first group to suffer at the feet of the coronavirus and nearly a year later, they are getting their next shot at a season. With localized schedules and limited postseasons, this will not be the full season everyone wants, but will get everyone back playing the sports they love.

For the area’s boys basketball teams, some are looking to continue successful runs from last year while others are looking to find a new stride. Here is a preview of what is new with the local boys basketball ahead of the season starting Monday:

BRISTOL CENTRAL

Head coach: Tim Barrette (14th season)

Last year: 17-5 (4th seed in Division II tournament)

Key losses: Shane Ouellette (Guard), Austin Brown (Guard).

Key returnees: Shaun Winninger (Sr., Forward), Donovan Clingan (Jr., Center), Damion Glasper (Jr. Guard), Victor Rosa (Jr., Guard), Carson Rivoira (Jr., Forward), D’Ante Ross (Sr., Guard/Forward).

Possible newcomers: Piotr Nizielski (Sr., Guard), Elijah Rodgriguez (Sr., Guard), Roberto Negron-Cruz (Sr., Guard), Dominic Amara (Sr., Forward).

Outlook: One of the most watched teams in the state, Barrette said he is “hoping to get through this season healthy and play our full schedule of games.” While that is all anyone can ask for during these times, the Rams should have another strong season after finding themselves in a position to make a deep playoff run last year. With top-50 recruit Clingan, last year’s MaxPreps Player of the Year in Connecticut and most of their lineup returning, the wins should be plentiful this year for Central.

First Game: Feb. 9 vs. Avon

BRISTOL EASTERN

Head coach: Bunty Ray (5th season)

Last year: 6-14 (missed state tournament)

Key losses: Bryce Curtin (Forward), Jordyn Tate (Guard).

Key Returnees: Elijah Parent (Sr., Guard), Trini Otero (Sr., Foward), Ty Donohue (Sr., Forward).

Possible Newcomers: Josh Kolano (Sr. Guard/Forward), Jack Stavens (Sr. Guard/Forward).

Outlook: The Lancers fell on the wrong end of countless close games last season and will look to build off of that experience to produce more wins this year. Parent was the leading scorer last year and comes back as one of many seniors on this year’s team.

First game: Feb. 9 vs. Farmington

NEW BRITAIN 

Head coach: Kurt Reis (4th season)

Last year: 13-9 (reached second round of Division I tournament)

Key losses: Tahmeen Dupree (Sr., Guard), Nyzaiah Diaz (Sr., Forward).

Key returnees: Justice Carter (Jr., Guard), Tyrone Cummings (So., Guard). 

Outlook: Dupree was a 1,000-point scorer in his high school career and made a top-notch duo with Carter, who will take the lead for the Hurricanes this season. The team will look to its top returners to be the key to its success in 2021 as the pandemic creates added challenges for teams at every turn.

First game: Feb. 9 vs. Southington

BERLIN

Head coach: Mike Veneziano (12th season)

Last year: 5-15 (missed state tournament)

Key losses: Jeff Madeia (Forward), Camden Murphy (Guard).

Key returnees: Justin Piskorski (Sr., Guard), Michael Ciarcia (Jr., Guard), Ryan Stec (Jr., Guard), Sal Dastoli (Jr., Guard), Jake Smalley (Jr., Center), Kyle Pinto (So., Forward).

Possible newcomers: Zach Skinner (So., Guard/Forward), Will Gomes (So., Forward), Toby Lavender (Fr., Guard).

Outlook: The Redcoats only have one returning senior senior from last year’s team, but head coach Mike Veneziano said he is very encouraged by his freshman, sophomore and junior classes. Berlin will have a new leading scorer this year after graduating Madeia, but after an underwhelming 2019-2020 season, there is plenty of room to grow. 

First game: Feb. 8 vs. Newington

NEWINGTON

Head coach: Ed Quick (4th season)

Last year: 8-12 (27th seed in Division II tournament)

Key losses: Patrick Brennan (Sr., Guard), Jordan Dukes (Sr., Guard), Raheim Lowery (Sr., Forward), Donavan Price (Sr., Center), Razik Amadou (Sr., Forward).

Key returnees: Jayden Andujar (Jr., Guard).

Outlook: With only two seniors on this year’s roster, Quick will be starting with a primarily fresh lineup this season after sneaking into the state tournament last year. 

First game: Feb. 8 vs. Berlin

SOUTHINGTON

Head coach: Jon Cessario (7th season)

Last year: 10-11 (17th seed in Division II tournament)

Key losses: Jared Kelly (Sr., Guard), Jake Napoli (Sr., Guard), Jake Delmonte (Sr., Forward), Sean Olson (Sr., Guard), Billy Wadolowski (Sr., Forward), Joe Gaudio (Sr., Guard), Zack Zembrzuski (Sr., Center), Austin Carta (Sr., Guard).

Key returnees: Dylan Olson (Jr., Forward), Aedan Derrick (Jr., Center), Nick Marecki (Jr., Guard), Rick Macioce (Jr., Forward), Anthony Matarazzo (Jr., Guard), Devan Bade (Jr., Forward).

Outlook: The Blue Knights will need to replace the scoring of Kelly and Napoli and they are lucky to have a deep roster to work with in a difficult season. Look to the team’s experienced senior class to lead the way in Southington’s CCC schedule in 2021.

First game: Feb. 9 at New Britain

PLAINVILLE

Head coach: Scot Wenzel (1st season)

Last year: 6-14 (missed state tournament)

Key losses: Louis Passarettti.

Key returnees: TyShawn Johnson (Sr.), Omarion Miller (Sr.), Alec Couture (Sr.), Dylan Hall (Sr.), A.J. Lestini (Sr.), Brennan Staubley (Jr.), Cam LaMothe (Jr.), Artem Mojica (Jr.).

Outlook: The Blue Devils were a very young team last year and should be much improved this year with all but one player returning. Wenzel brings more than 14 years of coaching experience to his first season in Plainville, which could re-energize the program in a transitional time.

First game: Feb. 9 at Lewis Mills

ST. PAUL

Head coach: Steve Phelps (30th season)

Last year: 12-10 (Reached second round of Division III tournament)

Key losses: Noah Waters (Guard), Jack Noli (Guard), AJ Brooks (Forward), Rudy Otero (Guard).

Key returnees: Will Barton (Sr., Forward), Tom Lorenzetti (Sr., Guard), Alex Partyka (Sr., Guard/Forward), Jackson Sullivan (Sr., Forward).

Possible newcomers: Jeremiah Tatum (Jr., Guard), Jamie Leggett (So., Guard), Erik Suzio (So., Forward/Center), Christian Decker (Sr., Forward), Brycen Kennedy (Sr., Guard).

Outlook: Graduating four starters from last year’s roster will be a challenge to overcome in Phelp’s 30th season, but he always seems to bring the most out of his players. After being one of the few teams to play a state tournament game in 2020, the Falcons are still poised to have a solid season behind Division III-commit Barton and a talented guard in Lorenzetti.

First game: Feb. 16 at Seymour

TERRYVILLE

Head coach: Mark Fowler (21st season)

Last year: 13-7 (Reached second round of Division V tournament)

Key losses: Devonne Dao (Guard), Zack Rinkavage (Guard), Albert Molina (Guard).

Key returnees: Dylan Matulis (Sr., Guard/Forward), Sean O’Donnell (Sr., Guard), Dominick Dao, (Jr., Guard).

Possible Newcomer: Jake Rinnkavage (Jr., Forward)

Outlook: The pandemic has taken its toll on the Kangaroos as they will be without four rotation players that opted out of this season. A well coached team with a talented scorer in Matulis leading the way, Terryville should be a competitor in the Berkshire League. 

“Our chemistry has been great in the preseason and I think that will be a strength for us,” Fowler said. “I think that will help acclimate some of our newcomers and welcome them to the mix. If we can find a few guys that can contribute quality minutes, we can compete with any team in our league.”

First game: Feb. 8 at Northwestern

INNOVATION

Head coach: Matt Lance (6th season)

Last year: 19-3 (3rd seed in Division II tournament)

Key losses: LJ Hazelwood (Forward), CJ Allen (Forward)

Key returnees: Mikey Blackman (Sr., Guard), Gabriel Matias (Sr., Guard), Dashawn Hill (Sr., Guard), Timmy Fraylon (Sr., Guard).

Possible newcomer: Khalil Largent (Sr., Guard).

Outlook: Replacing an all-state performer in Hazelwood and all-conference talent in Allen will not be easy for Lance’s squad, but the three-time reigning CRAL champions are set up for another successful season. With seven seniors on this year’s team, this experienced bunch that has done lots of winning in their high school careers shouldn’t slow down now.

First game: Feb. 12 at Parish Hill

GOODWIN TECH

Head coach: Reuben Charles (21st season)

Last year: 15-8 (9th seed in Division IV tournament)

Key losses: Luis Aguiar (Forward).

Key returnees: Jonathan Alejandro (Jr., Small Forward), Joseph Santiago (Sr., Guard), Xavier Cartegena (Sr., Guard), Nef Murray (Sr., Center).

Possible newcomers: Brandon Martinez (Jr., Guard), Irvin Martinez (Sr., Guard).

Outlook: The Gladiators have a lot of production to replace in Aguiar, who led them in scoring last year with 21 points per game along with eight rebounds and five assists. But there are still plenty of returning players from last year’s team that nearly knocked off undefeated Prince Tech in the final of the CTC tournament.

First game: Feb. 9 at Vinal Tech



Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol Central, Bristol Eastern, Plainville, Southington, St. Paul, Terryville on Friday, 5 February 2021 21:13. Updated: Friday, 5 February 2021 21:15.