Green Wave closes the book on 5-15 campaign

An inability to convert wins from strong efforts proved the undoing of New Milford High School boys' basketball this winter.

"Our inexperience at the varsity level showed," remarked coach Wayne Thrall, "when it mattered most."

The Green Wave started its 2013-14 campaign in promising fashion, winning three of its first five games.

Yet coach Thrall's first season at the helm soon evolved as a series of missed opportunities on its way to a 5-15 record.

En route to losing 13 of its last 15 games, the Green Wave several times wasted the chance at victory with late-game mistakes.

Perhaps most frustrating was a late-season 53-50 overtime defeat to Bunnell, the South-West Conference's eventual champion (see photos).

"This team stayed positive," said coach Thrall, "and worked extremely hard from beginning to end."

The Green Wave returned experienced seniors Joey McKay, Drew Hansen and A.J. MacDonald, and received strong efforts from that trio all winter.

Yet many of the team's minutes were played by underclassmen with promise but little to no varsity experience.

"Any time an entire coaching staff and style of play changes for a group of student athletes, there's going to be a learning curve," noted coach Thrall, "and we certainly went through ours at times this year."

"When we were focused on the little things," he recalled, "we proved that we could play with just about anyone in the league."

Certainly extensive playing time for sophomores Nick Peixoto and Cameron Cunningham should put them in good stead form next season, and frosh Max Vaughey came on at season's end to play important minutes for the Green Wave.

Drew Hansen, Cunningham and McKay averaged 12.4, 12.2 and 11.3, respectively, to lead the team in scoring.

Peixoto added 7.3 points per game, but no one else averaged as much as five points.

Drew Hansen led the Green Wave in rebounding with five caroms per game.

Cunningham paced the team with 19 assists for the season, or just less than one per game. In total, the Green Wave accumulated less than three assists per contest.

"I'm hoping that through the experiences we've had this season, the returning players will be able to learn from our miscues ," said coach Thrall, "and close out games that we let slip away this year."

The goal will be to return NMHS boys' basketball to a more competitive edge, and possibly contention, in the SWC and the state.

"I'm looking forward to seeing a young but experienced group return next season," said coach Thrall, "and get NM boys basketball back into the conference and state tournaments."

"The incoming freshman group is a successful and talented bunch," he concluded, "that should blend in nicely with the young core players we have coming back for 2014-2015."

Season's end marked the close of the NMHS hardcourt careers of McKay, MacDonald and Drew Hansen, as well as Nick Eherts, Scott Eherts, Jake Pitser and Cormac Roberts.

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.

Norm Cummings

Photography by Norm Cummings