CANTON – The Canton High boys basketball program continues to climb its way back into contention. Two years ago, the Warriors hit the floor with a 3-17 mark.
Last year, first-year coach Craig Archambault led the Warriors (8-14, 5-11 NCCC) back into the NCCC Tournament for the first time since 2010 and back to the CIAC Class S tournament after a one-year absence.
Now, Archambault and the Warriors want to build on last year’s success. They are shooting for a winning record and victories in the NCCC and Class S tournament.
The Warriors graduated two starters including All-NCCC guard Patrick Sullivan, who was Canton’s leading scorer, averaging 14 points a game. But they return three starters and a host of players with varsity experience.
The strength of this team could be its versatility. Archambault says eight or nine players can play depending on what it is needed on the floor. “If we need five guys to press and run the floor, we can do that,” he said. “If we need five guys to play a big game inside, we can do that.”
Junior co-captain Cam Daley (13.0 ppg) is the top scorer returning for Canton this winter. He’ll play up front along with 6-foot-4 junior Shane Toland, 6-foot-1 senior Andrew Zukowski and 5-foot-11 senior Jake Wood (6.0 ppg). They’re strong, athletic players who can finish plays under the basket.
At guard, 5-foot-10 sophomore Riley Hoffman is set to start at point guard with 6-foot-1 junior Ben Sullivan, 6-foot-1 sophomore Cameron Lange (6.8 ppg) and 5-foot-7 senior co-captain Alex Daley (2.2 ppg) expected to play in the backcourt.
“I love the toughness these kids play with,” Archambault said. “They are tough kids who are disciplined and want to get better.”
Canton plays a full slate of 16 NCCC contests. Archambault said that Avon, Ellington and East Windsor loom as some of the better teams in the league at this early date. A year ago, Canton was in the bottom group in the league. Archambault wants his Warriors to take the next step and that could mean a win over a tough Avon, Ellington, East Windsor or Granby team.
“For us to take that next step forward, we need to get a win against an Avon, Ellington or a Granby,” he said. “It will be a competitive league but those are our expectations.”
Canton has non-league games scheduled against Shepaug, Lewis Mills, Hartford Classical and East Granby (Dec. 27). The wrestling, girls basketball and boys basketball teams will play back-to-back home games on Friday, Dec. 27, as part of a holiday student, family and alumni weekend.
Coach: Craig Archambault, 2nd year (8-14)
Last year: 8-14, 5-11 NCCC. Lost in 1st round Class S tournament to Old Lyme, 55-38
Key losses: All-NCCC guard Patrick Sullivan (14.0 ppg), forward Tyler Lange (4.8 ppg)
Key players: Alex Daley (Sr., G, 5-7), Jake Wood (Sr., F, 5-11), Andrew Zukowski (Sr., G/F, 6-1); Cam Daley (Jr., F, 6-1), Cameron Lange (So., G, 6-1), Shane Toland (Jr., F, 6-4); Ian LaClair (Jr., F, 6-4), Riley Hoffman (So., G, 5-10), Ben Sullivan (Jr., G, 6-1).
Outlook: With a rotation that ranges from eight to nine players, Archambault hopes Canton will continue to grow this season with a winning record and victories in the NCCC and Class S tournaments.
Of note: Canton opens the season at Sport Medical Science Academy in Hartford on Dec. 20. It’s the first time that Canton has faced the Tigers on opening night. … It is the 91st season of varsity basketball in Canton dating back to December 1920. …
December — 20:at SMSA; 23: at Lewis Mills; 27: EAST GRANBY (non-league)
January — 3: SOMERS, 7: at Coventry; 10: at Windsor Locks; 14: EAST WINDSOR; 17; AVON; 21: ELLINGTON; 24: at Stafford; 28: ENFIELD; 31: at East Granby
February — 4: at Suffield; 7: COVENTRY; 8: HARTFORD CLASSICAL, 2:30 p.m.; 11: at Somers; 14: SMSA; 18: at Bolton; 20: GRANBY; 21: at Shepaug
Games begin at 7 p.m. unless otherwise listed