By Eric Berry
Authors Note-Here is a third attempt and getting it as close to right from what my memory will release back into present day. Some of the players listed below is proof positive that your memory(my memory) doesn’t allow you to always see the forest through the trees.
Shooters/Players I missed
Jeff Mosher-I’m in awe of my memory’s inability to remember one of my best friends, assistant coach, and long-time men’s basketball tournament teammate. In an exhibition game against the New York Football Giants, Jeff hit a shot from a couple of steps inside halfcourt. The G-men players all looked at each other like what in d hell was that? So, Pepper Johnson takes it out and rifles it at Jeff and tells him to try that again. This time from further out, and pretty much halfcourt, he drains it. I have two other great stories on Jeff’s shooting prowess. We were playing in Barre against Steve Pratt and 3 future D1 players headed to Old Dominion from Champlain College. After the third quarter we were losing by 17 or 18 points and really dejected. Steve comes over and starts apologizing to me and our team for bringing these players to the tournament. All that did was provide a spark for us(I’ve never told this story for public consumption until now and Steve may argue it, but I do have witnesses) as we went on to get back into the game thanks to Jeff burying about 6 3’s in 5 minutes. We were tied with 30 seconds left and were holding the ball. Jeff was dribbling it about 8 feet in front of halfcourt positioned straight on with the hoop. About 10 feet above the top of the key. I said to him, ‘shoot it’. He looked at me like I was crazy, and I said again, ‘shoot it’. He shrugged and launched it. Nothing but net. We win Gracie!
Steve Pratt gives wicked inspirational and motivational speeches by the way!
The last story was from the old St. J Rec dept championships. Also, a tie game with little time remaining and this time I had the ball. As some of you know I used to talk a little smack on the hoop court. So, I loudly proclaimed to our opponents the following, ‘YOU KNOW I’M NOT LETTING ANYONE ELSE TAKE THIS LAST SHOT’! They turned their defense up, furious with my brazen statement. All the while, meantime in my head, I knew where the ball was going. I drove by my man in an attempt to get Jeff’s man to come towards me which he did. A fatal mistake on his part. Jeff caught the ball from me and swished it like I knew he would. Championship won. Jeff should have been on list one, day one. One of the best shooters EVER from this area!
Mark Zangla-How I missed Mark on this list I’ll never know. The kid was unbelievable. The first game ever played at Danville’s new gym he hit a halfcourt shot at halftime. I don’t believe other than after David Ortiz’ home run did I ever hear anything louder. He could do it all, shoot, pass, defend, and lead. He also went on to have a great career at Johnson State. He once guarded me in men’s league game and I absolutely hated it. Most guys you could run off a few screens and they’d finally acquiesce, you know, give you an inch or two to get a shot off. Mark may be the best all around player no one ever talks about and for what reason I have no idea.
Tim Shedd-Correctly pointed out to me by Travis Hill, Shedd is another one of those great players I missed in part one and part deux of my blogs. A pure scorer from the moment he started as a freshman at Hazen Union. I thought Tim had uncanny strength as a freshman too! The ability to shoot from long range with consistent from too. He didn’t get rattled, from what I saw, and he always was clutch. A great player who went on to Norwich and also had a great career there too!
Chad Howland-I once incorrectly berated Chad for playing terribly in a game in which he scored 40 points. I was young and very dumb. Now I’m old. It was against Lake Region and at the time he set the single game scoring record for LI. After going home and watching the game tape I felt like I swallowed an entire apple. He was unreal. Had 15 rebounds to go along with the points. A pure lefty shooter is something beholden to watch. That’s what he was!
Matt St. Amour-Finally on day 3 of this series of hoops blogs I bring up Missisquoi’s greatest player. I saw Matt play a number of times throughout high school. Very similar to Tony Orciari just not quite as athletic but every bit the scorer. He scored 2,064 points at MVU and another gazillion at Middlebury where he was the consummate student athlete. He has played professionally since his matriculation from Middlebury-does that tell you anything?
Trevor Howard-The dude was lightning fast and could knock down the three like he was shooting lay ups. His career by a lot of Vermonters went unnoticed though he was only 20 minutes away at Littleton High School and tearing up the Granite State. I saw Trevor play in men’s league games and tournaments after and he was basically unguardable. Too much speed and quickness to get up on him as he would go by anyone, and if you stayed off of him even by a half step, he would hit the 3. Great player. Also, an extremely good coach, if not great! Look at the consistency of his program at Littleton. The LHS alum should make all other LHS alums proud of his dedication to the program, and consistency of winning!
Jen White-Jen was probably the best rebounder I’ve EVER seen at Danville high school, and one of the best I’ve EVER seen period! To say she had a knack for rebound the ball is like saying Houdini was pretty good at magic tricks. The ball ALWAYS ended up in her hands. Undersized in college it made no difference. She still dominated. Also, a knack for scoring inside against bigger opponents.
Jamie Eaton-I saw Jamie for a couple of years at Lyndon State. In her college career she scored over 2,000 points! I remember thinking to myself how she just completely dominated the game on the inside. All rebounds were hers, and she was going to score 20+ no matter what the defensive game plan. Lyndon State was lucky to have her attend because Jamie could have played at the D2 level, and perhaps higher.
Kali Stoddard-Imari-Correctly pointed out to me on Facebook about this stud of an athlete. I had the luxury of coaching Kali for one year at Lyndon State. A complete freak of athletic nature. A brilliant career at Lyndon Institute prior to being a Hornet and he was a machine from his junior year on. 3 to 4 inches taller and he’s a D1 scholarship player. I have zero doubt of that. During his freshman year I sent the “bigs” down to do a drill. After noticing something I didn’t like I went down to explain to Kali the technique I wanted. Now, I always acted like some sort of tough guy to my players(haha) and after explaining to Kali what I wanted he pivoted and drove his shoulder into my torso as he “drop stepped” towards the middle of the lane. I swear to God he broke my sternum. The young man was the strongest player, pound for pound, of anyone I’ve ever coached or seen on a basketball floor. I walked away and told him he got it right. I never let him know I didn’t take a breath for 2 minutes. An uncanny leaper who dunked the basketball like Dominique Wilkins. A great person too!
Matt Audibert-Truthfully, I didn’t see Matt play much in high school. However, someone brought up that I should write about all the big jumpers I have seen. I’m not going to write about all of them, but I’ll tell you that Matt was sent from the God of Jumping. I was playing in the old “King of the Hill” tournament and at halftime of one of the games they held a dunk contest. All these collegiate players were in attendance, mind you. Everyone is doing their thing(course I’m watching) and all of the sudden this guy has someone sit in a chair just inside the foul line(not making this up) and jumps over him to win the whole damn thing. He was either a junior or senior in high school at the time! A high school kid. Matt went on to set the high jump record at UVM.
Coaches I missed
Aaron Hill-Hard not to believe that Aaron wasn’t in part one or part deux but take a look at the Hazen program? All he’s done is win, win, and um, win! He’s won 5 titles as the leader of the vaunted Wildcats program. I think, I know, that’s enough to anoint Coach Hill to the upper echelon of the coaching industry. He’s averaged 15 wins a season and has amassed over 300 wins. Look around, anyone else doing that? Great stuff.
Matt Johnson-I coached against Matt and his teams were always so poised and organized. At Burlington High School his teams put on a clinic for several years and he should have been on my list of greats! His last championship over Rice he proved to be a defensive tactician winning 37-29. A very humble guy too considering he’s one of the best players to EVER hail from Vermont!