Caribou Viking Boys prepare for upcoming season

3 years ago

CARIBOU, Maine — The Caribou Viking boys basketball team has two consecutive state championships under their belts, but this year the squad is facing new challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A late start and an overall shorter season has made for a different take on the 2021 season, which will be coach Kyle Corrigan’s third year with the team. And though he led the Vikings to back-to-back Class B State Championship victories in 2019 and 2020, there will be no chance for a three-peat this year.

Instead, Corrigan said his main goal this year is for the team to enjoy themselves on the floor.

“First and foremost, we want the guys to just have fun,” he said. “This year has been full of unknowns and as far as the future goes, things can change at any moment. We’re just going to try to make the most out of every opportunity we’re presented with.”

Caribou, like some County schools, was behind a normal year’s schedule. Its first day of in-person practice in the gym on Jan. 4. Since then he said they’ve been acclimating to playing while wearing masks. 

He said the opportunity to play at all this year, given the current circumstances, truly means a lot to everyone on the team. 

“They are a really invested group,” he said. “When RSU 39 [Caribou and Stockholm] decided to go remote on Dec. 7, we put in a plan to hold three to four zoom sessions a week for our guys until we could get into the gym. Some nights were workouts, other nights we had PowerPoints and a game film to watch.”

Each of these Zoom meetings had between 20 and 25 kids in attendance, which Corrigan says is a testament to how much basketball means to the boys.

“The fact that we’re back in the gym right now is a great feeling for everyone,” he said.

Last year, the team’s record was 21-1, including its victory in the Class B State Championship in double overtime against Maranacook on a buzzer beater by Sawyer Deprey, Corrigan said.

And in the upcoming season, the coach said he wants to see the team tighten up their defense.

“We always tell the guys that defense needs to be consistent every night,” he said. “Your offense won’t always be there, but your defense needs to be. I thought we did a great job defending last year, I just want to see us continue to get better in that area.”

The 2021 Vikings line-up includes seniors Carter Quist (5 feet, 11 inches), Cory Herbert (6-1), Ethan Holdsworth (6-4), Riley Bouchard (6-1), Cameron Ouellette (6-0), Brevin Barnes (5-10), Sawyer Deprey (6-2), Caleb Espling (6-4), Miles Collier (5-11), Zack Madore (6-0), juniors Michael Brigman (6-1), and Ari Plante (5-10), and sophomore Avery Thibodeau (5-11).

Out of the line-up, Corrigan said the five potential starters are Sawyer Deprey, Ethan Holdsworth, Michael Brigman, and Cory Herbert, adding that the fifth spot is “really up for grabs this season,” and that it could be filled by three or four different players on a nightly basis.

“It will be fun to watch the guys progress this season and see who ends up in that role,” he said.

Corrigan said Deprey will be stepping up into a leader role for this season.

“Sawyer plays harder on both sides of the ball than anybody I’ve ever coached,” he said. “He really prides himself on the defensive end and he is very sound on offense. He’s always had a nice jump shot but he’s worked really hard at expanding his range and becoming a lot more consistent of a scorer at all three levels.”

Holdsworth, he said, has a 6-foot, 4-inch height advantage and will likely be the team’s primarily ball handler in 2021.

“He has a tight handle and displays great court vision,” said Corrigan. “He finishes well at the rim and has the ability to knock down midrange jumpers. His presence on the defensive side of the ball is where he makes the most impact.”

Corrigan said Brigman has the ability to “score at all three levels,” in a myriad of ways.

“He has the ability to really catch fire from the perimeter and is going to have an expanded role on the offensive side of the ball this season. He continues to impress daily with his ability to read the game on the offensive side of the floor.”

And the coach said Hebert has incredible awareness on the floor, in addition to being one of the most competitive players on the team.

“He prides himself on the defensive end much like Sawyer and is always the first guy on the floor diving for loose balls,” Corrigan said. “Cory’s got that ability to knock down jump shots consistently as well.”

Among the key losses to the team following 2020 graduation are Parker Deprey, Alex Bouchard, Isaac Marker, Jacob Berkoski, Jacob Paul, and Joey Gregson.

Deprey was a Mr. Basketball Semifinalist and 1st team Bangor Daily News All State, the coach said, adding that he was their leading scorer on most nights and was among the best players in the state. He said Bouchard will be missed this year as well, and that he was the team’s floor general and also a Bangor Daily News All State Honorable Mention recipient.

“Both [Marker] and [Berkoski] were knock down shooters and played a huge role for us last season,” Corrigan said. “[Paul] and [Gregson] have also graduated and gave us valuable efforts day in and day out.”

He estimated that the team is losing “about 60 percent” of their scoring from last season, but is optimistic that a group of dedicated players are joining in 2021.

And though the team had some incredible achievements in the past two years, Corrigan is preparing for fierce competition this year.

“This year is an Aroostook County based schedule and we have some very good teams in the County,” he said. “Every team on our schedule is going to be competitive this season.”