GM basketball coaches praise this year’s teams, expect lessons learned to spill into next season

By Evan Chadwick
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

For all who experience the highs and lows of a high school basketball season, the end can be abrupt, leaving the athletes, coaches and fans adrift as to what they can do to fill the cold dark nights that for more than four months have been spent in the cozy confines of high school gymnasiums across the state.

For both Green Mountain High varsity boys and girls teams, the end of their seasons on the court came too soon. But still there were thrilling moments, painful disappointments but very bright possibilities ahead.

Senior boys set strong example for next year’s squad

The Green Mountain boys basketball team ended their run this past Saturday afternoon with a 61-34 loss to a very talented Winooski team, ending their postseason play in the quarterfinals with a 13-8 record.

Despite the sadness that permeated the locker room after the boys walked off the floor for the last time, Coach Brian Rapanotti, who captured the 100th win of his GM career earlier this season, is optimistic for what the future will bring for the green and gold.

“This group really showed what can happen when you play hard and together,” said Rapanotti. “They set a good example for the younger kids.”

The focus for Coach Rapanotti, as he begins his preparations for next season, will be ensuring that those younger teammates who witnessed the rewards that can be reaped on the basketball court will come in next year, ready to create their own story.

“Hopefully these last two years can help us maintain this program at a high level,” said Rapanotti. “The younger kids can strive to keep that standard up and pass it on as my seniors have this year.” Those seniors are Everett Mosher, Branden Rose, Kagan Hance, Elias Stowell Aleman and Reid Hryckiewicz.

Despite losing five seniors, the cupboards are far from bare as the returning talent and the successful junior varsity squad that only lost two games all season will allow the boys to pick up where they left off.

“We will be competitive next year,” said Rapanotti. “Having Eben (Mosher) return along with guys like Tanner (Swisher) and Austin (Kubisek) who picked it up late in the season, will help us continue to build the strength of the program.”

Young GM girls take valuable varsity experience into next year

Although many outsiders can look at the wins and losses as the primary barometer on whether a season is successful, this metric is but one of many that truly gauges when a season can be called a “success.”

For Green Mountain girls basketball Coach Jeff Buffum, upon his reflection of his girls’ season, where his team went 4-14 and missed the playoffs by one game, there is no doubt that the effort, perseverance and the ability for his team to stick through it all clearly define the 2021-22 season a success.

“People will see our final record and think we weren’t very good,” said Buffum. “They don’t know the whole story.”

The story that Coach Buffum speaks of is of Covid-19, the pandemic disease that can rip apart a roster in an instant, eliminating entire weeks of practice plans and game strategy.

“Covid took a huge toll on us as a team just a few weeks in,” said Buffum. “We were losing so many girls to it, I never knew if I would have enough girls to practice on any given day.”

Despite the constant roster changes, Buffum has seen a light at the end of this tunnel, as the loss of his players forced some of his young players into the spotlight, gaining some valuable game-time experience. None gained more than freshman Kyra Burbela, who stepped into a starting role and showed glimmers of just how talented she can be as she matures into the varsity game.

“The young kids did a great job. It’s a big adjustment to jump from middle school hoops to varsity. The game is faster and more physical,” said Buffum. “Just getting adjusted to the speed of the game is a giant step. They accepted that challenge and gave me everything they had on the court.”

With this experience now behind them, Coach Buffum sees big things for the GM girls program as they prepare for next season, which will return all but two of their players — seniors Kim Cummings and Grace Tyrrell.

“We will struggle to overcome the loss of our two seniors, but we will be OK,” said Buffum. “We continue to grow individually and as a team every time we step on the court. Between the kids we have now, and some that are coming in the very near future, you have not heard the last of this group.”

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Filed Under: BasketballEducation NewsFeaturedSports News

About the Author: Originally from Rochester, Vermont, Evan Chadwick is a practicing attorney who lives in Brattleboro with his family. He is a 2007 graduate of Keene State College and currently coaches the boys' varsity basketball team at Bellows Falls Union High School.

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