Yesterday I took an early look at next year's hoops season in D-I and D-II. Next up is D-III and D-IV.
Notice instead of Class L, Class I, etc. I'm saying Division I, Division II, etc. Starting next season, this is how the NHIAA will be structuring its divisions for ALL sports. Which I suppose makes sense. Why have "Classes" in some sports and "Divisions" in others? Why not just have all sports use one or the other? That is what the NHIAA has done. And it's a good decision.
Ok, enough of that tangent. Now on to the early look at next year's D-III and D-IV season...
Berlin...I made a lengthy post about this a while back. This was a very good Class M team this past season, making it to the championship game and giving Conant all they could handle. Next year they return their top 3 players, 4 of their 5 starters and 6 of their top 7 players. Only one who graduates is Robert Mercier. Curtis Arsenault could win Class M Player of the Year next season as a junior, and the Mounties also return Jeremy Michalik, Sam Aldrich, Zach Donaldson, Tyler Baillargeon and Jake Drouin. These guys have scorers and they're very good defensively.
Bow...The Falcons are moving up to Division II next season, after spending the past few years in Class I. Berlin has some very good talent returning, but no other team in the division has a trio of senior like Bow will have. Guards Connor Hill and Erik Michaud, and 6'4" forward Josh Faber will be very tough for the other D-III teams to handle. Then you also have another senior, 6'1" wing Ryan Hill who is also a solid player. Losing Tom Poitras to graduation will hurt. But moving down a division will help. They would probably be ranked somewhere in the 4-8 range next season if they stayed in D-II (formerly Class I). But down in Division III (formerly Class M), these guys are one of the top 2 teams.
Conant...The Orioles graduate their "Big 3" of Sean Martin, Jimmy Peard and Kemph Kim. Normally a team that graduates their top 3 players, and returns so few contributers off the previous year's team you wouldn't consider them a potential contender. But this is Conant we're talking about. They breathe basketball over in Jaffrey. They had a VERY good JV team and also had a couple of role players who will be back to take on larger roles next season.
Mascoma...These guys return a few of their key players off a team that only lost to Conant by 3 in the semis. The most notable returner of course, is 6'4" forward Conner Torrey, who will be a senior next year.
Somersworth...The Hilltoppers had a good team this year, and although they graduate 3solid players (Matthews, Cunningham and Denn) they return some solid talent in Matt Fauci, Bobby Shatinski, Pat Lavin, Brody Hornung and Dylan Lanctot. All 5 of these kids got some big minutes last year, that looks like a pretty good starting lineup to me.
Campbell?...Josh Morgan will be one of the top players in Class M next season. But Morgan is the only one of Campbell's top 6 players from this past season who is returning. Campbell did have a couple of role players from this past season who will be back, and they also had a good JV team.
Hopkinton...These guys were only the #16 seed in Class M last year. But that's deceiving. They had a ton of injuries, including their best player, freshman Mike Auger, who missed 4 games with an injury. He returned towards the end of the year and torched my Sanborn team in the last game of the regular season for about 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Hawks were a young team last year, and return a bunch of other solid players in addition to Auger.
Ok, I'll admit I haven't seen many of these teams play. What I do know is that this division will be home to 2 VERY good players, Pittsfield's Ben Hill and Newmarket's Adrian Edgerly. Both will be seniors next year. However, I would not be surprised if Hill transferred elsewhere, as he is one of the top 8 college prospects in the Class of 2011. Wilton-Lyndeborough should also be decent, with a pair of talented senior in guard Aaron Davis and center Steven Heck.