Southern Aroostook boys hopeful for return trip to Bangor

2 years ago

DYER BROOK, Maine — A solid mixture of returning veterans and talented newcomers should be the focal point for the Southern Aroostook boys basketball team this season as the Warriors look to build upon last season’s success.

Coach Brett Russell is hoping for the proverbial “third time’s the charm” as he enters his third season with the Warriors. 

Southern Aroostook (11-5 overall last season) captured the Division II (Small School) championship with a 55-41 victory over Van Buren in the Aroostook League. The Warriors then fell to Division I champ Caribou 72-45  in the Aroostook County Championship. 

SA lost a couple of seniors to graduation in Jacob Brooks and Xavier Morales, who were key contributors to the Warriors success a year ago.

“My outlook for the season is to improve each and every practice [and] game throughout the year,” coach Russell said. “I’m very optimistic that with good practices and attention to detail we can attain our No. 1 goal of a trip to the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.”

The 2021-22 roster for SA features seniors Hunter Burpee (forward) and Christopher Caswell (forward); juniors Buddy Porter (guard), Graham Siltz (forward), Drake Weston (guard), AJ Lewis (forward) and AJ Chambers (forward); sophomores Dylan Burpee (guard) and Brennan Burpee (forward); and freshmen Trafton Russell (guard) and Ethan Collier (guard).

Hunter Burpee will be one of the Warriors’ key inside players this season. “We will look for him to help control the boards and put points up,” coach Russell said. “We also will look to him for more of a leadership role this year.”

Siltz will also be counted on to help in the rebounding department. “I am also looking for him to become more of a presence on the offensive end,” the coach said.

Weston and Caswell will be counted on to provide a defensive presence along with getting out in the open floor in transition. “Either one (of these players) could be a starter any given night,” Russell said.

Porter will be the Warriors opening night point guard. “He will be counted on to facilitate our offense,” the coach said. “He will also be counted on in a leadership role and will be key in getting us into our transition offense.”

Dylan Burpee will be counted on to be an offensive and defensive catalyst for the Warriors this season. “He is a pure shooter who has come into his own this season,” the coach said. “I’m expecting good things from him on both ends of the court this season.”

Russell added he was also looking for quality minutes from Trafton Russell and Brennan Burpee off the bench. “Those two can come in and provide a spark on the defensive/offensive ends,” he said. 

The Warriors have been fortunate thus far with having a full roster available for practices. “It’s very early in the season, so we’ve had no issues with keeping a team on the floor to this point,” he said. “We are all very excited for the chance to play a regular year with the chance to move on to a tournament this year. We had no kids not return because of the mask protocol.”

Some of the team’s strengths should be experience with a number of returning players. The team will also look to the defensive end of the court to fuel its offense through transition baskets and an uptempo style of play.

“I am always looking to improve on the defensive end with communication and different defensive schemes that will lead to offensive production,” the coach said. “As always, rebounding will be a key both on the defensive and offensive ends.”

Wisdom will be among the top competitors for the Warriors, coach Russell said. The team also faces Washburn, East Grand, Hodgdon, Ashland, Central Aroostook and  Fort Fairfield.