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2021 The Woodstock Academy boys basketball preview

Keep the pipeline going.

That’s what the Woodstock Academy boys basketball program is hoping to do.

That seems to be the case this season.

The Centaurs lost five players from a year ago, but return a team to the floor that coach Marty Hart is pretty confident with.

“There is a lot to love about this team coming back,” Hart said. “There are finesse guys , tough guys, shooters, defenders, rebounders. It’s a very balanced team. We have experience, thankfully, bringing guys back from last year.”

The Centaurs finished with an 8-14 mark a year ago.

Gone is Aidan Morin who was second on the team in scoring (10.1 ppg) and was one of the top rebounders. Also on the graduate list was Grayson Walley, Efstathios Savvidis and Nick Bedard (6.5 ppg).

It leaves a strong nucleus led by senior guard Logan Talbot.

Talbot came to the team last year and led the Centaurs with a 16.1 scoring average with 46 3-pointers and 50 steals, both of those totals also topped the team.

“He has got much stronger physically and he has shortened up the motion on his shot which has made it a lot quicker,” Hart said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him in live action. I think he is in tremendous position to have a really strong year.”

The Centaurs also return junior Ethan Davis.

The 6-foot-1 junior stepped into the starting lineup as a sophomore a year ago and became a factor both off the glass and as a facilitator.

Davis tied Morin for the team lead in rebounds with 117 and was tops on the team in assists with 38 in addition to his 6.7 point per game scoring average.

“He’s a tough guy,” Hart said. “He’s a great rebounder and excellent leader, too. We’re counting on him to be an upperclassman now.”

In addition to Davis’ leadership qualities, Hart has also been impressed with senior Jacob Hernandez.

The 5-7 guard has taken the team under his wing after missing last season with a torn labrum suffered in football. Hernandez still served as the team manager a year ago showing his dedication to the program.

“His energy and vocal leadership in practice has made him a nice presence,” Hart said.

The Centaurs will also feature 6-2 senior Andrew Johnson, a nice inside-outside player who is capable of crashing the boards and also delivering a clutch 3-pointer when needed.

Johnson averaged 7.1 points a game, pulled down 71 rebounds, had 27 assists, 21 steals and 14 3-pointers.

“He is the hardest worker around,” Hart said of Johnson.

Other seniors include 6-4 Liam Blanchflower, 6-1 Daimler Aleksjuks, 5-8 Richie Hickson and 6-6 Dmitrii Zinchenko.

Zinchenko comes up from the JV program and could be a force to be reckoned with in the middle.

“He’s a freight train going to the basket and can shoot from the outside. He has great touch. He was on JV last year and spent a good, hard summer improving his game. He’s trying to get himself to the college level and he’s capable of that,” Hart said.

Other varsity contributors will include juniors Jackson Goetz, Parker Anderson, Huck Flanagan and Hamilton Barnes.

Hart plans to keep the freshmen in the freshmen program and will likely keep most of the sophomores on the JV level for much of the season, leaving the upperclassmen on varsity.

“I just want to give this group an opportunity to play,” Hart said. “They are a tremendous group so I’m thankful they will have the opportunity. They need to pass on the tradition of defense, rebounding and toughness to the next group. I think we’re in position to have a good season albeit up here in the North which is great for us in terms of competition and travel.”

The Centaurs have only a 10-game schedule which begins on Saturday in Windham.

They are also scheduled to play some regional tournament games in mid-March.

That is if everyone can stay healthy.

“I’ve reminded them each day that it all balances on the tip of a pin,” Hart said. “It’s such a short season that if there is a shut down, it could take half the season away. It’s on them to be careful. I told them that I have completely quarantined except for basketball. I will not be bringing Covid to the situation and I hope they will be especially careful and grateful for the opportunity too.”