Opportunities abound for this year’s Plainville boys basketball team. After reaching the state tournament last year for the first time in eight seasons, the Blue Devils graduated a solid core of seven seniors.
The Blue Devils went 9-12 last season, dropping a first round game in the state tournament, 61-55, to Gilbert. Plainville will look to replace the seniors that graduated, including all-CCC Brady Callahan (9.8 points per game), Dane Stephens (7.7) and Sam Lestini (6.7).
The Devils will also need to fill up the minutes and points left by departed seniors Ben Dougherty (104 points), Pierre Ramirez (61 points), Peyton Warnat (42 points) and Ryan Snyder.
Head coach Jim DiNello in his fifth season at the helm along with assistant coach Joe Smedick and freshman coach Eric Perrotti are putting the pieces in place trying to retool the Devils now that a solid foundation has been set as the defending Southern Region Patriot Division champions.
“It will be interesting,” said DiNello. “The learning curve will be pretty steep. But I’m excited to see how some of these guys who haven’t had a lot of varsity experience handle the challenge.”
Plainville returns just two remaining starters from last winter’s tournament team and will be led by juniors Javan Paradis and Alec Couture.
Paradis knocked down 224 points, scoring in double digits 13 times and compiling a 10.7 scoring average. At 6-2, Couture can be a force in the lane, putting up 149 points for a 7.4 average but also shown a penchant for hitting the three-pointer.
“There is a big difference in the speed of varsity ball compared to the JV level,” said DiNello. “I would expect that it’s going to take a little bit of time to get adjusted to a faster paced game. The good news is we are an extremely young team and there are opportunities to gain some playing time and show what they can contribute.”
Senior Louis Passaretti saw considerable minutes off the bench last year and will be the only senior to provide leadership for this up and coming group of Devils.
Juniors Tanner Callahan and AJ Lestini also filled in roles at the varsity level last season and will be looked on to take over expanded duties this season. Juniors Dylan Hall and Ty Johnson will also be in the mix to give Plainville a solid core to build on.
“A lot of these players were around last year to experience the excitement of making the states and see how it’s done. The focus, the dedication and overall work ethic that went into it.”
“Coming in as the defending Division Champs, there are some large shoes to fill. These guys are stepping on the court this year knowing what it’s like to be on a winning team and it should make them hungrier to carry on what we started last year.”
“The culture has definitely progressed going from not winning a game a few years ago to being a state tournament team. Even though they are new varsity players they know what they expectations are.”
Plainville will get the season underway on Friday, Dec. 20, at Conard. The Devils will play their first home game of the season on Monday, Dec. 23, hosting Bristol Eastern at 6:45 and on Friday, Dec. 27, they will open up the Rybczyk Holiday tournament at the Ivan Wood Gymnasium taking on Berlin at 4:30.