Shire boys eager for challenge of new season

2 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — If all the pieces fall into place, the Houlton boys basketball team should be poised for another strong season on the hardwood.

Second-year coach Travis Gentle has a number of returning veterans to help provide key senior leadership, while also adding an influx of new young players eager to make their mark with the team.

I believe we are very athletic and we should be a lot deeper bench wise this year,” coach Gentle said. “We hope to be one of the top teams. However, without playing teams from down state last year, it is difficult to tell where we stand.”

Like all other Aroostook County schools, Houlton’s games a year ago were only against other squads from The County, because of high COVID-19 numbers across the state. Houlton finished with a 10-4 record a season ago.

COVID has changed a lot of things,” Gentle said. “However, I told the players this year that we are practicing and playing like we normally would. Last year we went a little light on the conditioning because of the mask issue.  We weren’t quite sure how the kids would respond to wearing masks indoors with all the running. So more conditioning will be done this year.”

The Shire roster features seniors Collin Moody, Isaiah Gentle, Gage Bartlett, Caleb Solomon, Jadon Gentle and Garrett Harvey; junior Cody Johnston; sophomores Adrian Norton, Zack Ervin and Bronson Hanning; and freshmen Brandon Barton, Jay Tweedie, Isaiah Ervin and Thadon Gentle. 

“Our starting lineup could change from game to game, depending on our needs and gameplan,” coach Gentle said. “We will be quick at the guard position, with all-around good shooters and guards that can get to the basket.”

Coach Gentle added Solomon should be a tough matchup for teams in the low post, but is also able to hit the 15-foot jumper. Jadon Gentle should see a lot of rebound opportunities as he was one of the team’s best rebounders a season ago.

The coach added one of his biggest points of emphasis this season would be to focus more on the defensive side of the ball. “We gave up too many points last year,” he said.

The team lost just two players to graduation — Hunter Sennett and Drew Foley.

Coach Gentle said he expects Caribou and Presque Isle to once again be among the toughest Class B North foes the Shires will see on the court this year. Houlton also has contests against Central Aroostook, Bucksport, Hermon, Foxcroft Academy, Belfast, Ellsworth, John Bapst, Mount Desert Island, Old Town and Washington Academy.