VUHS senior leads Addison Independent all-star boys’ hoop team

ADDISON COUNTY — A balanced, tough Otter Valley group this winter established itself as the best boys’ basketball team in these parts by not only reaching a Division II semifinal, but also compiling a 4-0 record in games against Vergennes, Middlebury and Mount Abraham.
But although the Otters are deservedly well represented on the 2017 Addison Independent Boys’ Basketball All-Star Team, the area’s top player wore a slightly lighter shade of blue than OV’s: Commodore senior Lance Bergmans, the 2017 Addison Independent Player of the Year.
Bergmans did it all for Peter Quinn’s VUHS squad, which closed the regular season with three straight wins to finish 7-13 before a tight playoff loss at OV. The team leader scored efficiently, rebounded, set up his teammates and defended. One of his senior teammates joins him on the Independent squad.
Coach Greg Hughes’ Otters closed their season in style, winning nine of 11 games to finish 15-8, with both of those losses to D-II champion Fair Haven, the second one in a Barre semifinal. Three Otters earned recognition here.
Coach Kyle Lussier’s MUHS squad easily could have had a better record than 6-15: Five of the Tigers’ losses were by four points or fewer, a couple in heartbreaking fashion. Three members of what was arguably the area’s deepest team are honored here.
Coach Martin Clark’s Mount Abe group won six times, with a victory over D-II finalist Milton showing what they could accomplish on a good night. Two seniors made the Independent squad.
As always, selections were made based on observation, statistics and consultation with the coaches. Congratulations to the following:
LANCE BERGMANS, VUHS SENIOR, PLAYER OF THE YEAR. Notes: Excelled in all phases of the game for VUHS, averaging 17.6 points (while taking 10.5 shots per game), 9.1 rebounds (at six-foot-two), 4.4 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.2 blocked shots … Shot 49 percent from two-point range, 40 percent from behind the arc, and 87 percent from the free throw line … Heady player who often ran the point, played hard, handled challenging defensive assignments, showed maturity and leadership, and never stopped working on his already strong ballhandling and shooting skills.
Quinn’s Quotes: “He’s the proverbial coach on the floor. He was the guy I always trusted to understand what we were trying to do … He’s unfailingly intense. He plays every play. It makes him a joy to play with and coach … He was really focused on winning. He would have been happy with 10 points a game if we got to Barre … I can’t tell you how many days during the season, never mind out of the season, he showed up (at the gym) at six in the morning … He was our unquestioned leader in all senses of the word.”
JOSH LETOURNEAU, OV SENIOR. Notes: Explosive scorer and tough, quick-handed defender who led the Otters with 14.3 points per game and scored double that amount several times, including 31 points in a pivotal win over Mount St. Joseph that triggered OV’s late-season surge … Versatile, speedy offensive player who could finish at the rim off the dribble or in transition and heat up from three-point range … Co-captain who led by example.
Hughes Quotes: “Josh is most deserving of any award. He takes senior leadership to another level … He’s always working the hardest and pushing others and representing his team, school and community very well … In practice you have to run drills that are very low key at times because he will wear himself out. That’s how hard he goes … He was a crucial part of our offense. Being our high scorer and our point guard put a lot of pressure of him, and he was able to handle it.”
DYLAN MACKIE, OV JUNIOR. Notes: Terrific ballhandler and passer who teamed up with Letourneau in the backcourt to make OV difficult to defend … Averaged 12.7 points and a local best of 5.0 assists per game … Sees the court and reads plays well, delivers passes right on the money, and can drive or shoot threes effectively … Used his quickness to harass opposing ballhandlers and help key an OV defense that held opponents to fewer than 50 points 11 times.
Hughes Quotes: “Even though he was not our point guard Dylan easily had the most assists on the team … He has a lot of weapons on the court. He can shoot, and he has amazing ballhandling and court vision … Despite his height he was our best play maker … Each game we played the other team had to take into account of where he was at all times.”
JACKSON COUNTER, MT. ABE SENIOR. Notes: Added another fine season to his four-year varsity career, leading the Eagles with 12.2 points per game while chipping in averages of 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists, plus 21 steals and 13 blocks … Dangerous three-point shooter with the skill and strength to take the ball to the basket … Often scored in bunches when the Eagles needed it most.
Clark’s Quotes: “He’s been the rock of the program for four years … He’s the guy that, in the games that we took over, he was the major factor in us winning … At the same time he helped us stay in games … He’s just a solid all-around player, for sure … He has that winning mentality … He’s a decent defender … Offensively he played inside and out, and oftentimes just took control of the game.” 
CODY POMAINVILLE, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Athletic, skilled guard who led the Tigers with 11.5 points per game and averaged 2.25 rebounds … The Tiger player who was most capable of creating his own offense … Had the ability to finish at the rim, including the occasional dunk, or dial in from long distance … Disruptive defender with quick feet and long arms.
Lussier’s Quotes: “He was definitely one of our key guys we looked toward all season … Cody had a lot of passion. He was very driven. He wanted to win … He’s a good athlete … He could get to the rim and score … Over the years Cody has grown, physically grown and become a strong, explosive player … He could close out as good as anyone on our team as a defender. He could move his feet.”
DUSTIN WHITCOMB, MOUNT ABE SENIOR. Notes: Hustling, competitive forward who led the Eagles with 7.4 rebounds per game despite typically giving away size … Chipped in 9.1 points per game, many coming on baseline jumpers and putbacks, and contributed 1.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game … Versatile defender who could handle bigger opponents or quick guards and routinely came up with loose balls.  
Clark’s Quotes: “The energy he brings to the court is unmatched … His energy level is consistent throughout the game, and he’s tireless … He does things during the game that are extremely helpful, but don’t show up on the stat sheet … His rebounding was huge for us this year … He was probably our best post defender … He was very quick. He certainly made things happen defensively for us.”
PAYSON WILLIAMS, OV SENIOR. Notes: Senior co-captain and team leader who averaged 9.18 points and led the Otters with more than six rebounds a game as a five-eleven power forward … Had a nice touch in the lane and could extend his shooting range to the three-point line … Tough defender, almost always against bigger opponents, and his ability to help on defense allowed the OV guards to apply pressure to the ball.
Hughes Quotes: “Payson Williams stepped up a lot for his senior year … His leadership on and off the court was something that will be tough to replace next year … He is a very smart athlete who was our defensive floor general. He was always in help position … I think he brought the brains to the team … He was a force inside, accounting for the majority of our rebounds, and he opened the lane for our guards to come in and grab boards.”
ETHAN SAUSVILLE, VUHS SENIOR. Notes: Efficient scorer in the lane at five-ten who averaged 7.5 points per game while shooting at a team-best 49.6 percent clip … Strong defender at small forward who averaged 2.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.2 steals … Most notably drew 41 charging calls in 20 games with smart positioning and complete fearlessness.
Quinn’s Quotes: “I don’t think many high school kids shoot over 49 percent … He does those little things that don’t show up … 41 charges in 20 games, that speaks to the fact that he is aware on the court … It was always stepping in and being aware of space and positioning … He’s a really good team defender. He shot for a good percentage. He took really good shots. That sums it up.”
JD GOETTELMANN, MUHS SENIOR. Notes: Solid all-round guard whose steadily improving floor generalship helped the Tigers cut their turnovers in half over the course of the season … Averaged 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists, numbers that were higher down the stretch … Good shooter with solid ballhandling skills and good court awareness and poise.
Lussier’s Quotes: “JD grew as the season went along … The biggest thing for me was the progress JD made through his senior year in his decision-making … I think he made a lot of smart decisions with the ball … He started scoring the ball, too, becoming another threat to score … He helped create opportunities for some of these other guys to flourish.”
PARKER BEATTY, MUHS JUNIOR. Notes: Versatile, athletic, two-way player whose value to the Tigers exceeded his averages of five points, five rebounds and 1.5 assists … Capable of defending point guards and power forwards, and offensively capable of playing point guard or power forward … Good passer with decent shooting range and finishing ability, with knack for grabbing offensive boards … Another Tiger who improved as the season progressed.
Lussier’s Quotes: “What he did didn’t always translate to the numbers … At times we could run our offense through Parker … It transformed at times how we played our offense with Parker’s inside-outside game … He’s a great defender … He could go up and get a rebound like no one else on our team … He could lead the break at times, too … The versatility that Parker gave us and his athleticism was really important to us.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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