High-flying Bears primed for big season


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Sophomore point guard Christian Serrano engineers a Winnisquam offense that will look to get out and run against opposing defenses this winter. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 09, 2013
TILTON The stakes are going up for the Winnisquam Regional High School boys' basketball team this winter.

After a season in which the Bears finished 7-12 with an overtime loss to Farmington in the Division III first round, Winnisquam is routinely mentioned among the expected top squads in the Lakes Region by opposing coaches with the season opener scheduled for Friday night against Berlin (6 p.m.). That's because the team is loaded with talent and athleticism, and their uptempo style will likely cause fits for opponents all season long.

"They played all summer most of them came three times a week," said third-year head coach Kevin Dame, whose team went from two wins in his first year to seven last year. "What we had last year, we were pretty close. Getting older and stronger and having that experience alone, they'd be a little better without the time put in. But with all that time put in, it's been a very good buzz at practice. All 12 guys are busting their tails. They're upbeat. They know they have the ability to be a very good basketball team. I still think we're very young but if they continue to work as hard as they have, good things will happen."

A lot of the hype around the Bears is likely to focus on sophomore point guard Christian Serrano, who was a Division III All-State honorable mention selection as a freshman last winter. Serrano is a dynamic player whose ability to slash while also hit a jumper makes him doubly dangerous.

"If needed, Christian can take over games but he doesn't have to," Dame said. "He knows he has talent around him and can share the basketball. Everyone is getting out and running the floor, and you aren't going to find many people who see the floor better than Christian. It should be a fast, exciting brand of basketball."

While teams got to know Serrano quite well by the end of last season, Dame is excited about the fact he has another guard who can alleviate some of the pressure his sophomore is likely to encounter. Junior Torrey Martinez has been outstanding during the preseason, and the shooting guard will be someone Dame counts on quite a bit this season.

"It's huge that they're both playing so well. They've put in so much time to get better and they have complete offensive games," the coach said. "They can drive, hit the outside shot. If (other teams) focus on one, the other will get looks."

Senior Spencer Pevine appears to have the inside track on a starting role at the three-slot, and his outside shooting is something the Bears will use to spread out defenses. Junior Tucker Normand would also figure into that mix, but he suffered an injury during the team's alumni game and is expected to miss at least five to six weeks of action.

The interior will look somewhat different for Winnisquam, as seniors Sean Buxton (6 foot 4) and Will Singleton (6-3) are the favorites to snag the post minutes. Sophomore Tim Harmon (6-2) will also see time in the paint.

"My bigs have been playing bigger and tougher than even I had anticipated before the season started," said Dame.

Senior Jason Robinson will contribute as an outside shooter for the Bears, while juniors Marshall Bordeau, Greg Hunt and Luke Morrison and sophomore Mike Buxton are all up from the JV and will look to make their marks as varsity players.

Winnisquam graduated six seniors from last year's team, which played some of its best ball down the stretch and into the postseason. In the tournament loss to Farmington, the Bears forced overtime on the road before ultimately falling short.

After the home opener against Berlin, Winnisquam has games on the road against Belmont (Dec. 17) and Bow (Dec. 23) before the Christmas break. The Bears will once again take part in the Lakes Region Holiday Tournament in Gilford, scheduled for Dec. 27, 28 and 30.

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