VUHS senior tops Independent Boys’ All-Star Team

ADDISON COUNTY — The balanced and scrappy Otter Valley Union High School boys’ basketball team enjoyed the best season among local outfits, among other things sweeping all of its games vs. Addison County competition.
But the team with the worst record in the area enjoyed the services of the top pick for the 2017 Independent Boys’ Basketball All-Star Team, Vergennes senior Adam Gill, the 2017 Independent Player of the Year.
Collectively, there was no debate about which team was best: Coach Greg Hughes’ Otters defeated Mount Abraham twice and Middlebury and VUHS once apiece on the way to winning 11 games, including a home playoff victory. Three Otters are honored here, a senior and two juniors.
Coach Kyle Lussier’s MUHS crew played a tough first-half schedule before recovering to go 5-5 down the stretch. Their five total wins included two-game sweeps of VUHS and Mount Abe as the Tigers established themselves within county limits as top cats. A Tiger senior and two juniors earned recognition here.
Coach Martin Clark’s Eagles won five times and made news when they prevailed in their opener, the program’s first win since mid-2014. Two Eagles who helped the team become more competitive this winter made the Independent squad.
Despite the efforts of Gill and a VUHS junior who is recognized here, Coach Peter Quinn’s Commodores struggled for consistency this winter and lost a number of close games; they ended up winning just twice.
Picks for Independent teams are based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
ADAM GILL, VUHS SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: High-scoring, hard-working guard whose 23.0 points per game this year allowed him to reach the 1,000-point plateau … Finished his VUHS career with 1,080, second all-time at the school… Showed consistent three-point shooting range and sank 37 percent from behind the arc … Also displayed an accurate mid-range jumper and the ability to slash to the basket, connecting on 43 percent of his two-point attempts despite being the focal point of opposing defenses … Added averages of 3.0 assists, 1.9 steals and 4.1 rebounds, with the board total tied for second best on the team.
Quinn’s Quotes: “He loves basketball. He’s a guy who still gets kicked out of the gym at lunchtime by the principal … He loves to play. He loves to compete and has confidence in his own abilities … He’s a student of the game. He works really hard to improve himself … He’s a good teammate. He’s really well-liked by his teammates … He’s a great kid to coach, too.”
TREY KAUFMANN, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Averaged a double-double of 15.05 points and a local high of 11.6 rebounds per game … Racked up two games of at least 20 points and 20 boards … Shot 43.1 percent, a rate that rose steadily as the season progressed … Could score in the post or shoot consistently from 15 feet out … Improved his defense and blocked 1.7 shots per game.
Lussier’s Quotes: “Trey hit his stride toward the end of the season … He did a great job in the post. He had a couple moves he could go to … He just ate up all the rebounds he could … He had a nose for where the ball was going and could explode and go up and get it … We’re not finding one player to replace him, that’s for sure. We’re going to have to have different people step up in different areas.”
JACKSON COUNTER, MT. ABE JUNIOR. Notes: Strong, skilled forward who led the Eagles in points at 12.5 per game while shooting 40 percent, and was second in rebounds at 7.3 per game … Go-to player down the stretch who also typically guarded bigger players when the Eagles played man-to-man … Good ballhandler and passer who averaged 1.8 assists … Three-year varsity starter who was voted captain as a junior.
Clark’s Quotes: “He played like a senior even though he was a junior … He was very under control on the court … He had moments where he could take over the game … He was very physical and a big reason we could control rebounding in several games … When it counted the most, he certainly stepped up the most and wanted the ball … He played solid defense … He’s a joy to have on the team, a great kid. He was a team captain and very positive all the time.”
DEREK AINES, OV SENIOR. Notes: Skilled senior who led OV with 16.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game … Worked hard to improve his defense and rebounding, and the results showed … Chipped in 1.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game and hit 75.5 percent of his free throws … Always drew extra attention from opposing defenses, who had to respect his three-point range and ability to slash to the basket.
Hughes’ Quotes: “We knew coming in he would be an offensive threat … The other guys definitely looked to him to take some of the bigger shots … He was probably our biggest defensive threat inside … He grew so much in the past year, and his physicality got much stronger … He was very aggressive down low … He started getting the knack of how to get some of those rebounds … He stepped it up as a senior leader … He definitely became a lot more versatile in every aspect of his game.”
JOSH LETOURNEAU, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Took over ballhandling duties this year and handled opposing pressure well … Quick, scoring many of his 11.0 points per game by attacking the basket, but also showed three-point range, sinking 35.4 percent from behind the arc … Converted 43.5 percent from two-point range … Contributed across the board with 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.3 steals per game … Determined defender.
Hughes’ Quotes: “He always defended the opponent’s best guard and is a great point guard running our offense … … He would bring it up against all the pressure we faced … He was one of the scrappiest players, too … He was very skilled at getting past defenders just by using his quickness and finishing at the basket … He’s got some skill in every little bit of the court … He is also a great kid off the court as well. I am very happy to be having him come back next year as a senior.”
LANCE BERGMANS, VUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Efficient scorer who averaged 9.0 points per game while leading the Commodores with 7.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game … Effective in the post or with a mid-range jumper … Good passer and ballhandler who averaged 1.7 assists from the forward position … Clear second on the Commodore team in the overall efficiency rating Quinn keeps that evaluates shooting percentage, rebounds, turnovers, steals, points, assists and other stats.
Quinn’s Quotes: “He’s really worked hard to develop his skills … He’s a good shooter. He’s one of those guys who needs to be told to shoot more … He was our force in the middle. He was a consistent rebounder for us, and he was our best help defender as well … He’s a good passer, too … He supports his teammates really well, too … He’s pretty enjoyable to peers and adults, both.”
CHRIS WOOD, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Quick, versatile defender and determined rebounder who led the Eagles with 7.5 boards per game … Chipped in 8.8 points, 1.7 assists and 1.4 steals per game and shot 73 percent from the free throw line … Co-captain and team leader who typically guarded opposing team’s toughest guard or forward.
Clark’s Quotes: He did a lot of things on the court that were productive in lot of ways … He had drive and determination. He was very focused … He just plays the game like it’s meant to be played. He’s tough … He positions himself for rebounding … He makes good decisions on the court … He’s physical and long-armed and would pretty much hold guys in check … He showed a lot of maturity this year and definitely led the team with positive attitude.”
CODY POMAINVILLE, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Explosive scorer who came on strong in the second half of the season after dealing with an early injury to average 11.15 points per game … Twice scored 25, including in a close win at VUHS in which he made several big plays down the stretch … Helped on the boards with 2.85 rebounds per game and averaged 2.7 assists per game … Effective defender on the perimeter.
Lussier’s Quotes: “He could assert himself, for sure … He definitely got noticed by the other teams … He was right up there in the rebounds and steals … He’s got some nice length for a perimeter player and that helped him get his hands on the ball (defensively) … He got in a groove a little bit at the end of the season shooting the ball … He came back in and proved his worth … He was knocking down shots when people left him open, and he was getting by people, too.”
J.D. GOETTELMANN, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Solid all-around performer at guard for the Tigers who scored many of his 8.4 points per game at crucial times … Second for MUHS with an average of 4.0 rebounds per game, and led the team with averages of 1.5 steals and 1.5 deflected passes per game … Good passer who chipped in 2.7 assists per contest.
Lussier’s Quotes: “J.D. could always pick us up or give us a spark … He was a lot of our energy at times when we didn’t have it … He did a lot more of the little stuff that didn’t show up in the stats … He definitely looks to try to get his hands to the ball a lot (on defense). He tries to be as active as he can … He was a good teammate, and he would do what we asked him to do … I was happy with his play this year. He took the right step forward this year.”
DYLAN MACKIE, OV SOPHOMORE. Notes: Made an impact at both ends of the court in his first year on varsity and was named to the Division I&II coaches’ Dream Team of up-and-coming underclassmen … Quick, talented offensive player and tough defender who averaged 9.6 points, 3.3 rebounds, and team bests of 3.8 assists and 1.6 steals and sank 75.8 percent of his free throws.
Hughes’ Quotes: “For someone so small he can mix it up inside more than anyone on our team … He can get his shot off inside … He has a great step-back jump shot. He has a great catch-and-shoot shot … For being someone so small and so young, he just added so much to our team … He was our most skilled player … There was nobody who could stay in front of him when he looked to attack. 

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