AVON >> With nine seniors on its 14-man roster, the Avon High boys basketball team is looking for a strong season. “It’s a pretty well-rounded group,” Avon coach Chris Vozzolo said. “We can shoot the ball and do a lot of different things at both ends of the court.”
Avon lost four seniors from last year’s team that went 20-5 and won the NCCC Tournament championship with a dominant 35-point win over Class S champion Granby in the final and a thrilling triple OT victory over Enfield in the semifinal. All-NCCC guard Ryan Marioni and forwards Brandon Feinberg and Will DiStefano graduated.
But there is plenty of talent returning for Avon, led by guard 6-foot Sean Herrman and 6-foot-3 forward Patrick McKearney. Both will be in the starting lineup for the third year and both averaged in the area of 13 points a game a year ago.
Herrman is a strong scorer and one of the team’s better three-point shooters while McKearney has a strong body and plays well under the basket. Six-foot-4 senior center Justin Reichler is expected to anchor the squad defensively and rebounding the basketball.
Five-foot-11 senior guard Jake Sartain is an attacking player who is fast and strong. Look for contributions from seniors Jordan Levine, Brad Fisher, Matt Reagan, John Burdick and Jared Rosenblatt. “I have a great group of seniors who will earn their share of minutes,” Vozzolo said.
Juniors Alex Zacchio and Zach Stirling return while junior Anthony Agli and freshman Nate Laszewski earn spots on the varsity.
The schedule will be challenging. Avon opens the season against defending Class S champion Granby on the road and follows that with a game in Springfield the next day against Northampton, Mass., that is already 2-0 on the year. Avon will play a pair of non-league contests against Glastonbury and Bristol Eastern. They could face Farmington in the second game of the Farmington tournament on Dec. 28.
Avon dives into NCCC plays in January and is looking for a piece of its first NCCC championship since sharing the crown with Enfield in 2010. Avon’s last outright championship came in 2009. Granby won the league title a year ago with a 15-1 record while the Falcons were 14-2.
Ellington has good size this year and East Windsor returns a veteran team. Granby has a strong frontcourt and needs to replace a veteran backcourt. “We should be right there in the mix,” Vozzolo said.
Coach: Chris Vozzolo, 5th season (68-30)
Last year: 20-5, 14-2 NCCC (2nd). Won NCCC Tournament. Lost 1st round Class L tournament to Farmington, 57-56 in 3 OT
Key losses: All-NCCC guard Ryan Marioni, forwards Brandon Feinberg, Sam Flaxman, Will DiSteano
Key players: Sean Herrman (Sr., G, 6-0), Patrick McKearney (Sr., F, 6-3), Jake Sartain (Sr., G, 5-11), Justin Reichler (Sr., C, 6-4), Alex Zacchio (Jr. G, 6-1), Zach Stirling (Jr., F, 6-2), Jordan Levine (Sr., G, 5-9), Brad Fisher (Sr., G, 5-11), Matt Reagan (Sr., G, 5-11), John Burdick (Sr.), Jared Rosenblatt (Sr.), Anthony Agli (Jr.), Dan Reagan (So.), Nate Laszewski (Fo.)
Outlook: With nine seniors and some veteran players returning, Avon should be a contender for its first outright league championship since 2009.
Of note: The Falcons had some long games last season. Avon was 1-1 in triple OT games a year ago and 0-1 in double OT games. … Avon has finished second the last two years in the NCCC, one game behind Granby and Enfield, respectively. The last league title for the Falcons came in 2010 when they shared it with Enfield (14-2). … Avon’s 35-point win over Granby in the NCCC Tournament final was the most lopsided final win since at least 1984. It was Avon’s first tournament title since 2009.
December — 20: at Granby; 21: vs. Northampton (MA) at Western New England University in Springfield, 2:30 p.m.; 23: GLASTONBURY; 27: vs. Bristol Eastern at Farmington, 6; 28: Opponent TBA in game 2 of Farmington tournament, 6 or 8
January — 3: SUFFIELD; 7: at Ellington; 10: SOMERS; 14: STAFFORD; 17: at Canton; 21: SMSA; 24: at Bolton; 28: WINDSOR LOCKS; 31: at Enfield
February — 4: at East Windsor; 7: ELLINGTON; 11: at Suffield; 14: GRANBY; 18: COVENTRY; 20: at East Granby
Games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise listed