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FL Boys Hoops Preview: Bassett becomes all-around player for South Jefferson


ADAMS — Tom Bassett pulls up from behind the 3-point arc and lets fly one of the prettiest jump shots in the Frontier League.

That’s the picture most high school basketball fans see when they think of the 5-foot-11 senior from South Jefferson. But Spartans’ coach Fred Piche has witnessed first hand the transformation of Bassett from purely a standstill shooter to an all-around contributor, and predicts a monster senior season for the talented guard.

“Tom has worked his butt off to become a better player, and it certainly shows,’’ said Piche, who will rely on Bassett to lead a talent-laden club to another Frontier League “B’’ Division title and perhaps a Section 3 crown as well. “He just knows how to play the game correctly, he has great basketball instincts and has the talent to dominate at times.’’

Bassett can still take over a game with his ability to make shots. But now, with the ball in his hands more often, he’s also become a distributor, a play-maker and a creator for the Spartans.

“We’ve got some talented big guys, so it’s my job to get the ball to them in good scoring position and just take what the defense gives me,’’ Bassett said. “I’ve learned there is so much more to the game than just shooting. And now I feel a lot more comfortable with the ball in my hands and making plays.’’

Bassett is your typical gym rat. He’s the first one in the gym, and the last to leave.

Piche said that between playing for his father, Pat, on an area AAU team and with the Spartans at several team camps over the summer, “Tom probably played between 50 and 60 games. And if he had the time, he’d do even more he loves the game so much.’’

Bassett said he realized early in his career that basketball was “not just a three or four-month season. It’s now 12 months, and if you don’t work at it, you’re left behind.’’

Bassett used to play soccer in the fall, but gave that up to concentrate on basketball. He still plays golf in the spring, but also spends as much time as he can in the gym perfecting his game.

“Basketball is a game that demands a lot of practice and work,’’ Bassett said. “I learn something new almost every day in practice, and that, hopefully, will make me a better player.’’

Bassett led last year’s 16-3 team in scoring in 12 of the 19 games, averaging 14 points and hitting 31 3-pointers. He especially came up big in the big games with 26 points against Holland Patent, 23 versus Watertown, 19 against Beaver River and 16 in a win over General Brown.

But Bassett also proved to be much more than just a shooter. He averaged four rebounds a game, dished out 56 assists, and became one of the Spartans’ best defenders.

“Getting into the weight room and becoming stronger helped a lot,’’ Bassett said. “I’ve also worked on my quickness and explosiveness.’’

Bassett is now just as comfortable taking the ball hard to the hoop as he is hanging out on the perimeter waiting for the open shot.

“If you just play him to shoot, he’ll go by you now,’’ Piche said. “And he’s learned how to get into the paint and make the shot because he’s more mature and a lot stronger than two years ago.’’

And he’s learned how to move without the ball better, freeing himself for better and higher percentage shots. And while his talent is evident, Piche is relying on Bassett more for his leadership ability than anything this season.

“It’s now his team, and I think he thrives in that role,’’ Piche said.

Bassett said that as a young player, “it was tough to be too vocal because you’re not sure if anybody will listen. Now I know that my teammates look to me for leadership and I’m a lot more comfortable being in that position.’’

Bassett is especially excited about the Spartans’ chances to go a long way this season.

“We’ve got great team chemistry, it’s an unselfish team and a lot more confident team than last year,’’ he said.

This, however, could be Bassett’s last basketball season. He isn’t sure if he’ll play as he heads off for a career in engineering at a prestigious school such as Johns Hopkins, Northeastern or RIT.

Whatever lies ahead, Piche is sure of one thing. Bassett will be a success in anything he does.

“He’s a great player, but a better young man,’’ Piche said. “Tom is one of the nicest kids I’ve every coached and just a great kid to be around.’’

“A’’ Division

Outlook: Look for this division to be the most competitive it has been in a long time with no clear favorite and four teams with a lot of young talent. Carthage, led by veterans Ben Martin and Walter Jeter and a couple of strong newcomers, may be a little ahead of the others. Immaculate Heart Central returns basically its entire team that was freshman and sophomore dominated a year ago. The Cavaliers have an all-around standout in Jude Whalen and shoot the ball well. Coach Mike Delaney is concerned with his team’s ability to rebound and defend. Watertown, which upset Indian River for the playoff title last year, must somehow replace the scoring and rebounding of graduated All-North MVP Dustin Pond. Coach Jeff Britton will try to do that around several veteran guards, led by Mason Phillips, and seven varsity newcomers. Defending league champion Indian River has only two seniors, a lone returning starter in Justin Mattingly, and basically no varsity experience.

Carthage Comets

Coach: Jeff Ventiquattro (8th year, 59-75).

2011-12 record: 4-13 overall, 3-7 league.

Players to watch: Ben Martin (10 ppg., 5 rebounds); Walter Jeter (10 ppg., 10 rpg.); Keyan Pinnock; Peyton McLaurin.

Roster: Ben Martin (6-4 Sr.); Clifton Robinson (5-10 Sr.); Andrew Lauber (6-0 Sr.); Andrew Smith (5-9 Jr.); Keyan Pinnock (6-0 Jr.); Ryan Pete (5-10 Jr.); Walter Jeter (6-4 Jr.); Dylan James (6-0 Jr.); Rob Flint (5-10 Jr.); Nick Connor (6-5 Jr.); Tyler Clemons (5-10 Jr.); Peyton McLaurin (6-3 So.); Jake Redmore (6-4 So.).

IHC Cavaliers

Coach: Mike Delaney

2011-12 record: 7-11, 3-7.

Players to watch: Jude Whalen (13.6 ppg.); Jude Fusilli; Cole Carpenter; Robin Massey.

Roster: Jude Whalen (5-11 Jr.); Jude Fusilli (6-0 Jr.); Joseph Fay (5-11 Sr.); Robin Massey (6-0 Jr.); Miles Sexton (6-2 Jr.); Davon Carrington (6-1 Sr.); Cole Carpenter (6-1 So.); Matthew Moran (5-11 Sr.); JP McCluskey (5-10 Jr.); Taylor Campanaro (5-11 Jr.); Noah Murrock (6-1 Jr.); Haden Baker (6-0 Jr.).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Tim Callahan (4th year, 33-23).

2011-12 record: 16-3, 10-0.

Players to watch: Justin Mattingly; Shelton Williams.

Roster: Danny Angelo (Jr.); Shelton Williams (Jr.); Justin Mattingly (Sr.); Malik Tillman (So.); Kevin Ritchie (Sr.); Marcus Keys (Jr.); Demetrius Gibson (So.); Denzel Barnes (So.); Justin Corley (So.); Daquon Williams (Jr.); Carlos Gutierrez (Jr.); Jakese Crockett (Jr.); Wally Garcia (Jr.).

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Jeff Britton (11th year, 106-96).

2011-12 record: 9-10, 7-3.

Players to watch: Mason Phillips (7.3 ppg.); Shyheim Gadson; Willie Scott; Vondel Wesby.

Roster: Ari Khandahash (5-9 Sr.); Mason Phillips (6-2 Sr.); Shyheim Gadson (5-11 Sr.); Willie Scott (5-9 Sr.); Collin Jorden (5-9 Jr.); Christian Jorden (5-9 Jr.); Tyler VanCamp (6-0 Jr.); Vendel Wesby (5-7 Jr.); Kendall Vecchio (6-1 Sr.); Ryan Bajjaly (6-1 Sr.); Siraj Sindhu (6-4 Sr.); Cole Bush (6-2 Jr.); Diamond Williams (6-1 Sr.).

“B’’ Division

Outlook: Defending league and playoff champion South Jefferson is not only the best team in this now three-team division (Lowville has moved down to the “C’’ Division), but could be the top team in the league and a sectional contender as well. Coach Fred Piche returns the league MVP in Tom Bassett, the league’s top big man in Jacob Worden, and plenty of talent and depth at all positions. Coach Brian Nortz reports hotly contested battles at almost every position for playing time at General Brown, which should give the Lions plenty of depth. Grant Decker returns to coach Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, and along with senior Aaron Marshall, that should make the Rebels a lot more competitive. This division has no playoffs due to a 17-game regular season.

A-P-W Rebels

Coach: Grant Decker (1st year).

2011-12 record: 3-14, 3-11.

Players to watch: Aaron Marshall; Tylor Skellington; Tom Canfield.

Roster: Ben Butler (5-7 Sr.); Joe Carusone (6-1 Sr.); Jimmy Durgan (5-6 Sr.); Jason Mahar (5-11 Sr.); Aaron Marshall (6-0 Sr.); Tylor Skellington (5-11 Sr.); Tom Canfield (5-8 Jr.); Nick Carusone (5-9 1/2 Jr.); Ty Christian (6-2 Jr.); Baron Correll (6-4 Jr.); Jarid Paninski (6-2 Jr.); Kenny Benedetto (6-1 So.); Sage Bartlett (6-1/2 Fr.).

General Brown Lions

Coach: Brian Nortz (19th year).

2011-12 record: 11-9, 9-5.

Players to watch: Joe Simoneau; David Pitre; Colin Lutz.

Roster: Joe Simoneau (Sr. G); John Evans (Sr. F); Colin Lutz (Sr. G); David Pitre (Sr. F); Nolan Pitkin (Sr. F); Zack Hickok (Sr. F); Richard Lagano (Sr. F); Jordan Keruskie (Sr. F); Joe Seeber (Sr. G); Ryan Lamon (Jr. G); Matt Haley (Jr. G); Rob Pickeral (Jr. G); Austin Giruzzi (Jr. G); Kyle Eager (Jr. F); Dylan Daughen (Jr. F); Cole Johnson (So. G).

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: Fred Piche (4th year, 40-17).

2011-12 record: 16-3, 12-2.

Players to watch: Tom Bassett (14 ppg.); Jake Worden; Jordan Schloop; Bobby Lees.

Roster: John Hodge (6-1 Jr.); Tom Bassett (5-1 Sr.); Pierce Parsons (5-11 Sr.); Jake Worden (6-4 Sr.); Bobby Lees (6-5 Jr.); Jordan Schloop (5-8 Sr.); Kraig Steele (5-8 Sr.); Marcus Shelmidine (6-0 Sr.); William Beese (6-5 Sr.); Troy Randall (6-2 So.); Avery Shelmidine (5-11 Jr.); Benner Geurtsen (6-0 So.).

“C’’ Division

Outlook: Talk about talent. This division is loaded with such standouts as Beaver River’s Alex Hall and Samuel Widrick, the Thousand Islands duo of Quincy Aubertine and Reed Donnelly and Jason Martin from South Lewis. Beaver River returns all five starters from last year’s sectional finalist team, and will settle for nothing less than taking the next step this season. However, valuable senior Trevor Lehman will try to play with a torn ACL. Aubertine and Donnelly give Thousand Islands plenty of firepower, and coach Scott LaLonde also has a strong supporting cast as the Vikintgs try to unseat the Beavers. Martin helped South Lewis improve to six wins a year ago, and with a veteran cast, the Falcons could do even better. Sandy Creek also looks stronger with plenty of veterans returning and a good mix of youngsters. Newcomer Lowville, with veteran boss Andy Capone back on the bench, has virtually no varsity experience. There will be no playoffs in this division as well due to an extended regular season.

Beaver River Beavers

Coach: Lynn Petzoldt (4th year, 40-21).

2011-12 record: 19-3, 14-2.

Players to watch: Alex Hall (14 ppg., 13 rpg); Samuel Widrick (15 ppg.); Trevor Lehman; Adam Schneider (10 ppg.).

Roster: Alex Hall (6-3 Sr.); Samuel Widrick (6-1 Sr.); Trevor Lehman (5-10 Sr.); Adam Schneider (5-10 Sr.); Tarren Farney (5-9 Sr.); Dustin Neddo (6-0 Jr.); Kaelyn Ferguson (6-0 Jr.); Brandon Delong (5-8 Sr.); Zack Steiner (6-0 Sr.); Seth Lapp (5-8 Sr.); Nick Mattimore (5-10 Jr.).

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Andy Capone (1st year, 9th year).

2011-12 record: 2-15, 1-13.

Players to watch: Matt Bush; Kyle Malik; Billy Larkins.

Roster: Matt Bush (6-2 Sr.); Kody Rosales (6-2 Sr.); Kyle Malik (6-0 Jr.); Billy Larkins (5-6 Jr.); Dalton Rombough (5-8 Jr.); Dan Austin (6-1 Jr.); Thomas Burch (6-3 So.); Connor Fayle (5-9 So.); Brian O’Connor (5-8 Fr.).

Sandy Creek Comets

Coach: Jim Hunt (3rd year, 11-25).

2011-12 record: 3-14, 3-13.

Players to watch: John Shirley; Tyler Swarthout; Zach Halsey; Cameron Hall.

Roster: John Shirley (Jr.); Tyler Swarthout (Jr.); Zach Halsey (So.); Reis Harding (So.); Andy Carter (Sr.); Dallas Miller (Sr.); Cameron Hall (So.); Matt Ennist (So.); Alex Lococo (Sr.).

South Lewis Falcons

Coach: Kirk Gerhardt (3rd year, 9-25).

2009-10 record: 6-11, 6-10.

Players to watch: Jason Martin (13.5 ppg.); Shawn Loomis; Dylan Marolf; Dominic Ventura.

Roster: Mike McLane (Sr.); Dylan Marolf (Sr.); Dominic Ventura (Sr.); Jason Martin (Jr.); Shawn Loomis (Jr.); Matt Mooney (Jr.); Josh Wheeler (Jr.); JT Smith (Jr.); Nick Arrigo (So.); Brett Czajka (Sr.); Dylan Edmonds (Jr.); Tracy Crowell (Jr.).

Thousand Islands Vikings

Coach: Scott LaLonde (13th year, 126-116).

2011-12 record: 9-10, 8-8.

Players to watch: Quincy Aubertine (22.9 ppg.); Reed Donnelly (15.2 ppg.); Matt Julian; Jacob Baldwin.

Roster: Quincy Aubertine (6-2 Fr.); Reed Donnelly (5-10 Sr.); Morgan Earp (5-9 Jr.); Teddy Ebbing (6-2 Jr.); Cameron Robbins (5-10 Sr.); Nick Nevala (6-10 So.); Matt Julian (6-0 Sr.); Trevor Typhair (5-11 Jr.); Alex Cooley (6-0 Jr.); Jacob Baldwin (6-0 Sr.); Connor Zackary (6-0 Sr.); Eli Baldwin (6-1 So.).

“D’’ Division

Outlook: Sackets Harbor comes off a season to remember, going 25-0 and capturing the school’s first state Class D title. With all five starters gone, the Patriots will be in a total rebuilding mode. But coach Jeff Robbins still has some talent in sophomores Ryan Allen and Colton Belcher and a tradition of excellence. Lyme boasts the division’s top player in junior Troy Wilson, and a strong supporting cast, giving the Indians the favorites’ nod. Alexandria was by far the most improved club a year ago, earning 14 wins. But the Purple Ghosts lost six of their top seven players and will rely on veterans Ian Kearns and Zach Heschke for points and leadership. LaFargeville and Copenhagen will likely fight it out for the fourth and final playoff spot with veteran-laden, improved clubs. Belleville Henderson has David Green back as coach, but sports a basically new roster.

Alexandria Purple Ghosts

Coach: Jared Plantz (4th year, 24-29).

2011-12 record: 14-4, 12-2.

Players to watch: Ian Kearns; Zach Heschke; Nik Shangraw.

Roster: Ian Kearns (Sr.); Zach Heschke (Sr.); Nik Shangraw (Jr.); Dylan Delosh (Jr.); Oakley Cullen (Jr.); Miles Bartlett (Jr.); Josh Tebo (Jr.); Chris Carasquillo (Jr.); Bryan Erck (Jr.); Kien Trinh (Jr.).

Belleville Henderson Panthers

Coach: David Green (1st year, 13th overall, 121-119).

2011-12 record: 5-12, 4-10.

Players to watch: Mathieu Corron; Chris Corbett; Tyler Bast.

Roster: Chris Corbett (Sr.); Nathan Leviker (Sr.); Charles Moore (Sr.); Tyler Bast (Jr.); Trey Countryman (Jr.); Alan Disbro (Jr.); Dan Ewald (Jr.); Jamez Voytko (Jr.); Mathieu Corron (So.); Thomas Desormeau (So.); Colton Ramsdell (So.); Antonio Brito-Reymundo (So.).

Copenhagen Golden Knights

Coach: Scott Randall (3rd year, 8-25).

2011-12 record: 2-14, 2-12.

Players to watch: Antonio Figueroa (11.6 ppg.); Brandon Selley; Kody Petrus; Brian Freeman.

Roster: Kody Petrus (Sr.); Brandon Selley (Sr.); Brian Freeman (Sr.); Brandon Scott (Sr.); Greg Kunert (Jr.); Brandon Moser (Jr.); Antonio Figueroa (So.); Ian Sawyer (So.); Cory Moser (So.).

LaFargeville Red Knights

Coach: Robert Augustus (4th year, 8-40).

2011-12 record: 3-13, 2-12.

Players to watch: Eric Doolittle (13.1 ppg.); Tim Cramer; Skyler Weston; Matt Strader.

Roster: Eric Doolittle (Sr.); Skyler Weston (Sr.); Tim Cramer (Sr.); Matt Strader (Sr.); Brandon Copado (Sr.); Bret Staie (Sr.); Kory Carr (Sr.); Gavin Davidson (Jr.); Josh Baughn (Jr.); Dan Leek (So.); Matt Valin (So.); Tavis Anderson (Fr.).

Lyme Indians

Coach: Leo Wilson (7th year, 61-60).

2011-12 record: 12-8, 8-6.

Players to watch: Troy Wilson (20.1 ppg.); Darius Reed; Tim Morrow; Kody Goutremout.

Roster: Troy Wilson (5-11 Jr.); ; Darius Reed (5-11 Sr.); Kody Goutremout ( 6-2 Sr.); Zach Backus (6-0 Sr.); Gunnar Blank (6-1 Sr.); Timmy Morrow (6-1 Jr.); Forrest Stafford (6-3 Jr.); Jared Donaldson (6-0 Jr.); Christian Sanford (6-0 Jr.)

Sackets Harbor Patriots

Coach: Jeff Robbins (6th year, 82-34).

2011-12 record: 25-0, 14-0.

Players to watch: Zach Rousseau; Colton Belcher; Ryan Allen (inj.); Josh Keruski.

Roster: Jacob Flagg (6-0 Sr.); Josh Keruski (5-9 Jr.); Ryan Allen (5-11 So.); Vinny Augliano (5-8 Jr.); Zach Rousseau (6-2 Sr.); Kyle Roy (5-8 Jr.); Matt Stackel (5-10 So.); Gabe Fedorko (5-9 Jr.); Kyle Gonseth (5-6 Fr.); Eric Chrostowski (5-10 So.); RJ Gebo (5-8 Sr.); Billy Newcombe (5-10 Sr.); Colton Belcher (6-3 So.).

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