MIKE GARABEDIAN is one of three seniors back for the Kingswood boys' basketball team. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 09, 2013WOLFEBORO — It's a whole new world for the Kingswood boys' basketball program.
With the retirement of longtime coach Dan Chick and the graduation of a large number of players, the Knights are left with only four returning players as the new season gets under way.
"We're starting over," new coach Dan Place said. "And I can't wait to get started."
Place was the JV coach at Kingswood for the last two years and also served as the JV boys' coach in Farmington under coaches Mike Lee and Tim Mucher for a number of years. Prior to joining the Kingswood staff, he had also served as the varsity girls' coach at Gilford, Laconia and Farmington.
He inherits a team that's light on varsity experience, but he believes that they have the ability to hang with anyone.
"I expect us to compete every night, giving us a chance to win," Place said. "Then we want to get in the playoffs. That's the goal every year, just make the playoffs and see what happens.
"That's when it gets fun," he added.
The Knights had tryouts before Thanksgiving and Place notes that the week after the holiday has been productive, as the Knights geared up for their first scrimmage of the season.
"This week has been pretty productive," Place said. "We've had four or five decent practices and I like the progress we're making."
Place has just three seniors back on this year's team from last year's squad.
Tom McCullough, Mike Garabedian and Sean Stackhouse are all back for their final seasons in the green and white.
"Tom is a big, strong kid," Place said. "Mike is kind of the slasher.
"And Sean, he's been impressive in practice with his leadership and doing the little things he has to do."
The only other player returning to the varsity roster for the Knights is junior Dan Eldridge.
"He just moves all over the place," Place said of the versatile Knight junior.
To round out the roster, the Knights will be bringing four players up from the JV program, all of whom played for Place for at least a season.
Jeff Madden makes the leap to varsity as a junior after two years playing for Place at the JV level.
"He knows what to expect," Place said of Madden. "And the other three played significant minutes on JV."
The other three players moving up from the JV level are all sophomores who played for Place last year as freshmen. Josh LaFleur, Madison Tetreault and Brendan Donahue will all be looking to make their mark on the program.
Place also has a couple of new kids as well. Junior Cole Tremblay was hurt the last two years but returns to the fold this season looking to stay healthy. Classmate Ben Craycraft brings some solid athletic skills to the program in his first year playing hoops at the high school level.
Additionally, Place will have freshmen Patrick Meyers and Mike Kelly on the varsity roster.
"I am expecting them to come right in and get some time," Place said. "If we're going to keep freshmen on the varsity, we're going to expect them to play. I think they can help us."
The Knights have a schedule that features two games each with rivals Plymouth and Kennett, as well as two each with Coe-Brown, Portsmouth, Merrimack Valley and St. Thomas, plus one each against John Stark, Lebanon, Pembroke, Oyster River and Milford.
The season will open for the Knights on Monday, Dec. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at home against St. Thomas. The Knights will also host Plymouth before the holiday break.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org