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Otter Valley’s John Winslow tops the Independent’s boys’ basketball all-star team

ADDISON COUNTY — Unlike 2013, the high school boys’ basketball season did not end this winter with a local team cutting down nets.
Still, three of the four area squads fared well enough to earn home playoff games, and all were led by athletes who submitted outstanding efforts that are recognized here in the 2014 Addison Independent Boys’ Basketball All-Star Team.
None of those athletes had a better season than Otter Valley junior forward John Winslow, the 2014 Addison Independent Player of the Year. Winslow’s rebounding, scoring and defense helped Coach Greg Hughes’ young Otters to an 11-10 season after a slow start. Two of Winslow’s teammates are also honored here.
Coach Chris Altemose’s Middlebury group was probably the deepest local team and enjoyed arguably the best season locally, also finishing 11-10 against a more challenging schedule, defeating OV along the way and earning a Division I home playoff game. Three Tigers earned Independent recognition.
Coach Peter Quinn’s Vergennes squad could not defend its D-II 2013 title after graduating 11 seniors and then being hit with late-season personnel woes. But the 9-12 Commodores also did well enough to host a postseason contest, and three earned mention here.
Coach Mike Estey’s Mount Abraham team won four times, including two dramatic victories over OV, and gave the Commodores and Tigers runs for their money at home. An Eagle senior makes a repeat appearance on the Independent squad.
Selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
FIRST TEAM
JOHN WINSLOW, OV JUNIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Athletic forward who led all local players averaging 18.7 points and 15.3 boards … Relentless rebounder who picked up many of his baskets by hitting the offensive glass … Also showed three-point shooting range, an effective mid-range jump shot, and the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack the basket … Tireless defender who stepped up into a leadership role on an OV team without a senior on the roster.
Hughes’ Quotes: “He definitely has a nose for the ball, especially in rebounding. It just comes to him … He’s definitely an all-around player … He has probably the purest shot we have on the team … He just does whatever you ask … He’s a good role model. He’s a leader on the team. He’s one of those kids who goes out and plays hard and plays well every night.”
LIAM HAYES, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Fine floor leader and ballhandler at point guard and an efficient scorer … Shot 58 percent from two-point range and almost 38 percent from behind the arc while averaging 9.5 points per game … Also chipped in averages of 3.4 assists, a local high, 3.2 rebounds and 1.7 steals … Fast with or without the ball, and a solid defender.
Quinn’s Quotes: “Liam is a very good, instinctive point guard … He prefers to pass, which I like in a point guard … He has a great understanding of the game. He knows where everyone is … He’s hard to guard … He kept getting better and better … He’s a leader on and off the court.”
BOBBY RITTER, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Led the Tigers in scoring (8.7 points per game) and assists (3.0 per game) while running the team from the point … Speedy athlete with good springs, chipping in with 3.75 rebounds per game … Good ballhandler and penetrator who could finish or pass off the dribble … Good team and one-v-one defender who averaged 2.0 steals per game.
Altemose’s Quotes: “All of his numbers in the second half were better than they were in the first half … His leadership, understanding of the game, ability to direct things on the court, all of those things improved this year … I just really felt he matured into an all-around quality point guard.”
SAWYER KAMMAN, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Versatile, athletic player who led the Eagles with 12.9 points per game … All-around contributor who also chipped in with averages of 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 3.0 steals … Good shooter who improved his ballhandling and ability to take the ball to the basket … Competitor, good team defender, and team leader who hit game-winning buzzer-beater vs. OV.
Estey’s Quotes: “He had a good year for us … Defensively his strong point was just getting the point across we needed to defend as a team. He worked hard at it … He did a lot of good things every night, and he worked hard in practice … He would get us going and he could put the ball in the hole … He would go inside and bang on the boards.”
WESLEY MIEDEMA, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Six-foot, seven-inch game-changing defender in the middle who averaged more than four blocks a game, blocked more than 10 shots four times, and altered many more shot attempts … Still tapping his offensive potential, but did average 6.1 points per game and passed the ball well … Also snagged 6.9 rebounds per game.
Quinn’s Quotes: “His big thing is defensive presence … Defensively, there are very few kids who had the effect he did … He affected 30 percent of opponents’ shots most games … He made great improvements from last year … He’s just a phenomenal kid.”
HONORABLE MENTION
CONNOR GALLIPO, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Solid scorer from the wing and tireless defender who was second for OV with 11.3 points per game … Dangerous shooting from long range or driving into the lane … Typically covered opponents’ most dangerous offensive players.
Hughes’ Quotes: “He became more of a leader and a scoring threat … He’s all over the place on defense … With him in the game we can full-court press all the time … I can’t remember one game or one practice when I saw him get tired.”
OAKLEY GORDON, MUHS SOPHOMORE. Notes: Sixth-man award winner this winter … Came off the bench for MUHS at guard or forward to average 8.0 points and almost always give the Tigers a lift … Effective shooting jump shots or taking the ball inside … Invariably played during crunch time.
Altemose’s Quotes: He became one of our go-to guys … He loves the game. He’s passionate about it … He competes hard … He’s one of those kids who could turn a game around for us … I loved the spark he brought coming off the bench for us … He just kept getting better and better.”
JARRET LAFLECHE, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Versatile swingman for VUHS who averaged 7.6 points while shooting 36 percent from three-point range, 3.2 rebounds and 1.5 steals … Solid ballhandler, passer and defender whose contributions increased as the season progressed.
Quinn’s Quotes: “He’s a guy who came into the year without a lot of playing time and got comfortable on the court and exerted leadership, which you like your seniors to do … He’s a solid kid … He really understood the concept of team defense and worked hard.”
KAI NORWOOD, OV FRESHMAN. Notes: Talented guard whose improved ballhandling and scoring down the stretch coincided with the Otters’ late-season surge to a winning record … Averaged 7.7 points a game thanks to his strong finish … Has floor vision, three-point range and the ability to put the ball on the floor and attack defenses.
Hughes’ Quotes: “He came in like a freshman, making some not-so-smart decisions, but soon he started getting into the flow and getting used to the varsity level … He settled in real well and became an important part of the team … He could beat the press and was a threat to score.”
CONNOR QUINN, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Reliable rebounder and defender who typically drew the assignment of covering opponents’ top scorers and handled it well … Played bigger than 6-0 and hauled down 4.8 rebounds a game … Smart, unselfish player who averaged 4.1 points and led the team in what Altemose called “hustle points.”
Altemose’s Quotes: “Connor was our best defender, no question …  Connor was very consistent. Night in and night out, he would get the hustle points, the rebounds … We knew we could count on Connor … He’s a nice all-around player … He works hard … He rebounds strong. He understands the game.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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