Bears hungry for improvement


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Parker Normand and the Winnisquam boys’ basketball team looks to move up the Division III standings this winter. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 03, 2012
TILTON – It's a new season in Tilton, with the page officially turned from a tough 2-16 campaign for the Winnisquam Regional High School boys' basketball team a year ago.

Second-year head coach Kevin Dame likes the makeup of his Bears this winter, as Winnisquam has seven seniors on the roster and some talented underclassmen ready to make some noise in a crowded Division III field.

"What's nice is we're better than we were last year as a whole," said Dame. "They know what it takes to play at the varsity level now. Practices have been better because there's more talent around."

The seven members of the senior class all saw playing time as juniors, with injuries limiting action for a couple of players. Seniors Zach Plourde (guard), Parker Normand (guard/forward), John Montalto (forward), Tommy Mahoney (guard), Michael Matcheski (forward/center), Austin Hunt (guard/forward) and Sean Connor (forward/center) will constitute the core of the Winnisquam roster this season.

"Really, last year was most of these guys first year on varsity," said Dame. "Every single one of those guys got playing time against some tough opponents, got better day in and day out. Hopefully they can continue to progress and make plays for us."

The junior class is paced by shooting guard Spencer Pevine, who has impressed during the preseason. Classmate Dakota Van Tassel will help anchor the front line at center while fellow juniors Will Singleton (forward/center) and Sean Buxton (guard/forward) will also contribute.

Sophomore Tucker Normand is the lone member of his class on the roster, and the speedy guard will be a strong presence in the Winnisquam backcourt.

"Tucker had a really strong JV year last year, probably averaged around 18 points per game, then saw a little bit of varsity time," said Dame. "We're going to get up and down, all these guys are going to get a chance. The pace that we go, no matter what condition you're in, we're going to be subbing guys in and out."

Freshman Christian Serrano rounds out the roster, though the newcomer will make an immediate impact as the team's starting point guard.

"He's got a lot of tools for a freshman," explained Dame. "He sees the floor well, can take it to the hoop and shoot it as well. This is my 12th year being involved in the program and I don't remember starting a freshman before at this point in the season. He works very hard and just makes people around him better. The middle school team hasn't lost many games over the last few years and he's a big part of it."

Dame was also impressed with his team's ability to get going this winter, as the Bears have been working hard to prepare for a difficult road ahead.

"They're all back knowing my expectations," the coach said. "We don't have to spend a lot of time going over plays and all that. It's honing individual skills to fit personnel better. And they're all coming out and working hard. It's been contagious.

"We have versatility with a lot of these guys, which is nice," he continued. "The only flaw to having this many guys that can play multiple positions though is finding minutes for everyone."

While Winnisquam boasts a plethora of outside shooting options, one thing Dame admits his team is a little short on is height up front. He hopes players like Van Tassel, Connor and Matcheski can hang tough with bigger teams in the paint.

"We don't have a ton of size," he said. "But we have guys that can play big despite not having a ton of size."

The road isn't kind to the Bears right off the bat, as Winnisquam travels to defending D-III champion Berlin to open the season on Dec. 7. Dame's crew opens the home schedule on Dec. 11 when Belmont comes to Tilton.

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