East Hartford boys’ basketball returns solid core

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Wed., Dec. 18, 2013
Ed Lavoie and the EHHS boys' basketball team went 17-3 in the regular season last year.  Photos by Corey AmEnde.
Ed Lavoie and the EHHS boys' basketball team went 17-3 in the regular season last year. Photos by Corey AmEnde.

With a core group of players returning from last year’s squad that lost to Fairfield Prep in the Class LL semifinals, expectations are high for this season's boys’ varsity basketball team at East Hartford High School. Three starters are back from the team that went 17-3 in the regular season last year and made the deepest run in the state tournament that the school has seen in many decades. The fifth-seeded Hornets fell to top-seeded Fairfield Prep by a score of 78-75 in the Class LL semifinals. Fairfield Prep would eventually fall to Hillhouse, the number-two seed, in the finals.

Head coach Ed Lavoie said the loss to Fairfield Prep still resonates this year.  “It still hurts, but allowed us to get a little growth,” said Lavoie.

Seniors Rodley Adjei, Collins Nwafor and Avondre Murphy are all returning starters from last year. Senior Kahari Beaufort also returns.  The versatile 6-4 slasher saw significant minutes last year off the bench and is regarded as one of the top players in the state.

“We’re looking at maybe changing his role up a bit this year because he is talented, he can play a different position; he’s accepted that kind of a role,” said Lavoie. “[He will] maybe share the ball a little bit more and run the point for us because he is taller.”

The Hornets added some height in the middle with Devin Marsh, a 6-6 senior transfer from Bloomfield that Lavoie said, “can help us inside and out.” Lavoie said he’s also looking for juniors Trayson Patterson and Augustus Busubrus to have an impact this season.

Lavoie said the strength for this year’s team is its speed, length and athleticism. “We have inside presence, we also have some outside presence,” said Lavoie. “We've got a little bit of everything this year, so we have a well rounded group.”

The fourth-year head coach said he will utilize the team’s overall speed on offense and on defense. On offense, the Hornets will look to run a well-balanced attack. “We can put it on the floor, we can play in the half-court, but we like to pressure the ball and we like to get out and run,” said Lavoie.

The Hornets will look to be equally aggressive on defense. “We want to force the hand of the other teams, dictate tempo of the game, put a lot of pressure on their guards and hopefully cause turnovers that way,” said Lavoie. “We play a variety of things - full-court, half-court, man-to-man - and we’ll throw in a couple of other things as well throughout the season just to mix it up.”

With a core group of players returning to this year’s team, Lavoie said the contributions from the reserves are equally important as the team aims for another deep run in the state tournament. “What we get from our bench is going to be key this year,” Lavoie said.

The boys opened the regular season on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at Middletown.  Their home opener is slated for Monday, Dec. 23, against East Catholic.

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