ADDISON COUNTY — The undefeated Division II champion Vergennes Union High School boys’ basketball team made and deserved the lion’s share of headlines this winter. Meanwhile, one player put together an outstanding individual season with less fanfare: Otter Valley senior forward Ryan Kelley, who headlines the 2013 Addison Independent Boys’ Basketball All-Star Team as the Player of the Year.
Kelley’s high scoring and consistent double-digit rebounding helped first-year coach Greg Hughes’ Otters bounce back from an 0-8 start to finish 9-13, a record that included a first-round D-II playoff win on the road. One of Kelley’s sophomore teammates, another solid scorer and rebounder, also earned Independent recognition.
As for Coach Peter Quinn’s Commodores, 24-0 really doesn’t say it all. Their balanced offense and unselfish, team-oriented approach led to scoring numbers that belie their individual talent. All five VUHS senior starters deserved to be included here, and they are, three of them repeating from 2012.
Coach Chris Altemose’s Middlebury squad had an outstanding 15-5 regular season that was good for D-I’s No. 4 seed — and would have been better if not for a season-ending injury to 2012 Independent all-star guard Mitchell Clarke. Three Tigers are honored here, two for the second time.
Coach Mike Estey’s Mount Abraham team managed to triple its 2012 win total to three. The Eagles were noteworthy for working hard — and for being as energetic and supportive as any fans in Barre. A versatile junior played well enough to merit inclusion here.
As always, selections are based on observation, statistics, and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
RYAN KELLEY, SENIOR FORWARD, OV, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: For the second straight season, led all local players in points and rebounds, this year with some eye-popping averages: 25.23 points and 15.0 rebounds … Improved his scoring down the stretch, leading all Vermont boys in February with 30.55 points per game as OV went 7-2 after a 2-10 start … Notched his 1,000th point at home on OV’s senior night … Played bigger than six-three because of his speed and athleticism … Has great touch in the post, the ability to take opponents off the dribble, and decent range on his jump shot … Fine defender who blocked more than a shot a game.
Hughes’ Quotes: “There wasn’t one game that he didn’t come to play … Nobody could stop him underneath, on the wing or even at point, where he took over at times … Ryan was the easiest player to coach, everything I asked of him was done without question … He made sure he and his teammates were getting better every day … He never was negative to anyone … He was always the first one to pick someone up when they made a mistake.”
ZACH OUELLETTE, SENIOR GUARD, VUHS. Notes: Blossomed into one of the state’s top point guards as he orchestrated an attack with five starters averaging between 7.1 and 12.8 points … Excellent ballhandler who led all local players with 5.8 assists per game while averaging only two turnovers … Led the team with 2.6 steals per game, tied for second with 11.0 points per game, and was second with 4.0 rebounds per game.
Quinn’s Quotes: “Zach is the best point guard I saw all year … His ability to push the ball up the court was unsurpassed … He really was a floor general … At the defensive end he is an incredible on-ball defender who is very hard to get around … He plays the game with terrific passion and is as aware of what it takes for a team to play well as most players understand about their own games.”
CONNOR COLLINS, SENIOR GUARD, MUHS. Notes: Slashing, quick offensive player who attacked the basket for a team-high 12.3 points per game on 55 percent shooting from the floor … Relentless on-ball defender who is adept at reading passing lanes, averaging an area-best 3.0 steals per game … Also chipped in averages of 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists … Offensive numbers probably would have been higher, but stepped in and shared ballhandling duties when Clarke went down.
Altemose’s Quotes: “You’d be hard-pressed to find a player who plays the game harder than Connor … He’s very athletic. He’s quick ... He certainly led us defensively in terms of the pressure he applies … His speed getting up the floor in transition and his ability to get to the basket were his strengths … He was willing to do whatever the team needed him to do ... He was a great leader for us this year. He set the tone … He was just fun to watch, and a fun player to coach.”
TYLER PROVENCHER, SENIOR FORWARD, MUHS. Notes: Solid all-around player who helped MUHS offensively, defensively and on the boards … Averaged 11.2 points, 5.0 rebounds, a team-high 1.6 blocked shots and 1.3 steals … Versatile offensively, with three-point shooting range and the abilities to score in the post or put the ball on the floor … Played well when it mattered, leading MUHS in scoring in both VUHS games and in their playoff contest.
Altemose’s Quotes: “He was our best offensive weapon consistently throughout the season ... He could handle the ball, he’s six-four and is pretty smooth out there … Defensively, he could attack the shots around the basket and is a good rebounder … He’s kind of a quiet leader for us … He played with a lot of confidence … He was a very unselfish player … He’s a smart player … He was fun to coach, hardworking, and would do whatever we needed him to do.”
SHEP CARTER, SENIOR GUARD, VUHS. Notes: Four-year varsity player who shrugged off nagging injuries to average 11.0 points, 2.5 assists and 2.3 steals … Tenacious defender who guarded opponents’ best guards, almost always holding them below their averages, most notably in Barre … Effective long-range shooter and penetrator who could finish on the break … Team leader and two-year captain who led VUHS with 18 points in the D-II final despite a sprained ankle.
Quinn’s Quotes: “He is an incredibly savvy and team player both offensively and defensively ... His ability to create shots was certainly unsurpassed on our team. He was certainly a guy when we needed a basket we could go to … He was always a player that drew tough assignments, and knew his opponent’s shirt size by the end of the game … He was a great leader for the team by example and by vocalization.”
STANLEY SALLEY, SENIOR FORWARD, VUHS. Notes: Gave the Commodores their inside presence and led the team in scoring and rebounding by averaging 12.8 points and 8.9 boards … Shot 56 percent from the floor and turned the ball over less than once a game … Has good hands and nice touch around the basket … At six-one, gave away height to almost all opponents, but made up for it with strength, smarts and determination … Played solid positional defense.
Quinn’s Quotes: “He’s a bull. He’s a great rebounder. He can score inside … I know he led the team in drawn offensive fouls … Stanley is in many ways the heart of the team … Stanley’s quiet strength was demonstrated not only on the court … He was arguably our most consistent player … His team depended on him tremendously, and he showed up game-in, game-out all year.”
CODY QUATTROCCI, SENIOR GUARD, VUHS. Notes: Savvy defender and steady offensive contributor who averaged 9.2 points, 2.6 boards, 2.6 assists and 2.5 steals … Was the Commodores’ most efficient shooter at 59.7 percent on two-point attempts, 40.9 percent on threes … Scored 20 points three times, including 23 on Dec. 27 vs. U-32 on eight-for-eight from the floor, including five threes, and two-for-two from the line, plus four assists.
Quinn’s Quotes: “Cody is our quiet star … People tend not to notice Cody until the end of the game until they realize everything he does … He just plays every aspect of the game well … He is incredibly even-tempered on the court, unflappable … He’s a great teammate, really liked and respected.”
JOHN WINSLOW, SOPHOMORE FORWARD, OV. Notes: Rugged six-one rebounder who came on as a scorer as the season progressed and helped OV finish strong … Averaged 13 points and 11 rebounds overall, 14.6 points in February … Recorded nine double-doubles in points and rebounds … Solid defender who can attack the basket offensively and showed an improving jump shot.
Hughes’ Quotes: “John took a lot of heat off Ryan because they could not leave him alone … Once he got confidence in his shot he became a real threat, because he can get by a defender with the best of them … He is a rebounding machine … John will be one to watch in future years … John is a very level-headed player who will be tough in anything he does.”
CHARLIE STAPLEFORD, SENIOR FORWARD, VUHS. Notes: Talented, athletic player who consistently helped VUHS on defense by guarding top opposing forwards, and could explode offensively … Finished with averages of 7.1 points, 2.4 boards, 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals, and scored 19 or more three times … Provided a major playoff spark, scoring in bursts at key times to help the Commodores take charge in their final three games.
Quinn’s Quotes: “Charlie was our X factor, who really started playing more effectively the second half of the year … Charlie is probably our best athlete … He played within himself this year. He matured on the court … He was a really good defender … He’s got a good basketball mind … He thinks about strategy. He has some good insights.”
SAWYER KAMMAN, JUNIOR GUARD, MT. ABE. Notes: Athletic guard who led the Eagles with 11.35 points per game and chipped in averages of 2.9 boards, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals … Can hit from three-point range and finish in the lane … Scored 28 points in one game, and played a key role in the Eagles’ two close wins, scoring 18 in an overtime victory over OV and tossing in 22, including a key late hoop, in a nine-point victory at Milton.
Estey’s Quotes: “He had a nice season for us … His strength was scoring for us … We got him to do some ball movement … He rebounds well for his size … He gave us great effort (on defense) … Hopefully he’s going to get even better for us … He’s a real coachable kid.”
PERRY DeLORENZO, FRESHMAN FORWARD, MUHS. Notes: Spent most of the season coming off the bench, but still led MUHS on the boards with 7.7 rebounds per game and was second on the team at 11.7 points a game … Added 1.1 steals and 1.0 block per contest while hitting 82 percent of his free throws … Excellent long-range shooter who rapidly improved his all-around game.
Altemose’s Quotes: “Defensively, he got better. He did a pretty nice job guarding bigger players in the post ... I was most impressed with his defensive rebounding … He shot really well at times. There were nights he put in six, seven, eight threes and nothing fazed him … His overall game came along nicely as the season progressed.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected]