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The 2013-14 Winter Sports Awards

  • The Mascenic boys basketball team played in the Keene Holiday Tournament on Dec. 26-29, 2013.

    The Mascenic boys basketball team played in the Keene Holiday Tournament on Dec. 26-29, 2013.

  • The ConVal girls hockey team lost to Exeter 8-0 at Winchendon Ice Arena in Winchendon, Mass. on Friday, Jan. 4, 2014.

    The ConVal girls hockey team lost to Exeter 8-0 at Winchendon Ice Arena in Winchendon, Mass. on Friday, Jan. 4, 2014.

  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.

    The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.

  • The Mascenic boys basketball team played in the Keene Holiday Tournament on Dec. 26-29, 2013.
  • The ConVal girls hockey team lost to Exeter 8-0 at Winchendon Ice Arena in Winchendon, Mass. on Friday, Jan. 4, 2014.
  • The Conant boys basketball team beat ConVal 43-39 on Tuesday, Jan. 28 as part of the Hoops for Hope doubleheader.

As we slowly slip the clutches of winter’s icy grasp and start nurturing the bright blossoms of spring, the time comes to reflect upon the wild and wonderful winter sports season we’re leaving behind. And just as the remnants of winter will stick around for a while, reminding us of the season past (and potentially pushing the spring season back a few weeks), the memories of winter will remain as well. It will be nice to get outside and cover some outdoor sports, but nothing beats a packed gym in March, and with my first coverage of a championship run in the books, it will be tough to top the winter of 2013-14. Let’s take a look back with the Winter Sports Awards.

MALE ATHLETE

Ben Wescott

ConVal Nordic, alpine skiing

Like his father and grandfather before him, Ben Wescott had his sights set on excelling in New Hampshire’s skimeister competition, and he did just that, placing third in the state in the combined Nordic and alpine standings. His high school skiing career finished, Wescott is leaving the slopes behind for greener fairways, but we can’t imagine he’s taken his last run.

FEMALE ATHLETE

Sydney Michalak

ConVal Nordic skiing

Sydney Michalak had one goal before the Nordic season started – to be the best ski racer in New Hampshire. She achieved that goal at the state meet, taking home the DII crown. She also qualified for the Eastern High School championships. Michalak has an unmatched drive to succeed that will take her farther than even her skis can.

BEST TEAM

Conant boys basketball

Repeat DIII champions

All season long, Conant had to withstand every opponent’s toughest efforts. With a bullseye on their backs, the Orioles withstood every test, ultimately repeating as DIII champs. The most telling, though, is that in any given game, any player was able to step up, put the team on his shoulders and carry them to a win. Every player on the team had the utmost trust in all of their teammates, and it showed.

HEART OF A CHAMPION

Matt Cyr

Mascenic boys basketball

Matt Cyr was the emotional leader of a Mascenic team that ebbed and flowed as he did. Sure, Jared Stauffeneker did most of the scoring for the Vikings, but Cyr was the one the team looked to when it came to heart. Cyr was matched up against the opposing teams’ centers and power forwards most of the time, and he welcomed the challenge of guarding players who were bigger than he. His grit will be missed.

ROOKIE OF THE WINTER

Hannah Garfinkle

ConVal girls hockey

The future of ConVal girls hockey is bright with Hannah Garfinkle at center ice. She was the player to watch this season and she did not disappoint, scoring the lone Cougar goal of the year – sure to be the first of many in her promising career. A player who’s both talented offensively and physically capable of dominating her opponents, it shouldn’t be long until she leads the ConVal girls to their first win, too.

BEST RIVALRY

Briana Boulerice and Katie L’Ecuyer

Mascenic and Conant swimming

Okay, these two would tell you that it’s a friendship, not a rivalry. But these two club teammates turned high school opponents push each other to the next level every time they face off. With Katie a junior and Briana only a sophomore, they’ve got another year to compete against each other.

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER

Justin Haase

Conant track and field

Justin Haase went from a good shot-putter to a great one this winter, as he improved his skills dramatically on his way to a third-place finish at the state championships and a spot in the New England regional meet. Already on top of his game, Haase doesn’t have far to go before he takes the Conant school shot put record.

COACH OF THE WINTER

Eric Saucier

Conant boys basketball

The marks of a great coach: Discipline. Results. Kids who love playing for him and who are the better for having gone through the system. Saucier personifies all that and more, and the Conant community – and the basketball community at large – are lucky to have his contributions. Tested over and over again, Saucier never lost his cool, and Conant’s record 11th title is the latest reward.

TOP 5 MOMENTS

1. Conant boys basketball repeats as champions

You could see it coming before the season even started, but it was no cakewalk for the Orioles this season. All their hard work and focus paid off that Sunday afternoon at SNHU.

2. Jared Stauffeneker scores his 1,000th career point at home

It was a special night at Mascenic when Jared Stauffeneker reached one of basketball’s great milestones – still only a junior.

3. Adam Smullen wins DII wrestling title

ConVal’s Adam Smullen wrapped up his high school career by taking the DII title in the 160-pound class.

4. Hannah Garfinkle scores for the ConVal girls

The ConVal girls hockey team is getting better every year, and no moment was bigger for them this season than when Hannah

Garfinkle got them on the board for the first time.

5. WLC wins a playoff game

It had been years since the Warriors boys basketball team went into the playoffs with a good shot at winning, but they pulled it off in the first round.

TOP 5 FEATS

1. Maura Rapposelli beats the entire field

The ConVal alpine skier has had some great races in her career, but perhaps none bigger (so far) than when she came in first out of both the boys and girls competitors at Crotched Mountain.

2. Rob O’Brien’s dunk against Farmington

Conant was rolling to a playoff victory already, but when O’Brien went up with two hands over a laneful of defenders and threw down a monster jam, the Final Four became a reality.

3. Isaiah Taylor’s natural hat-trick on senior night

The ConVal boys hockey team needed a win to get into the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and Isaiah Taylor delivered, scoring three straight right off the bat.

4. Jordan Litts’ epic playoff performance

The Warriors headed up to Colebrook as underdogs, but they left as winners following Litts’ insane 42 point, 24 rebound night.

5. Jess Nerz and Jordan Mills destroy Manchester West

Nerz scored 25, dished out four assists and grabbed eight boards while Mills scored 14 to go with a ridiculous 11 steals.

TOP 5 STORYLINES

1. Could the Conant boys hoops team repeat as DIII champions?

The hardest thing about winning a championship is repeating. The Orioles didn’t let that daunting task get them down, and they took down the top teams in the state en route to a two-peat.

2. Could ConVal’s girls hockey team make the leap?

In their second year playing a full NHIAA schedule, the girls team improved, but not enough to get the program’s first victory – but it’s just over the horizon for the Cougars.

3. Could Mascenic’s girls basketball team get back to the playoffs?

The Vikings were a good team and terrific on defense, but they struggled to score consistently and were on the wrong end of a couple close calls, leaving them just shy of a postseason berth.

4. Which, if any, of ConVal’s teams would get into the playoffs?

The boys and girls basketball teams came up just short, but the boys hockey team ended a nine-year postseason drought by clinching a playoff berth.

5. How would the Conant girls team do under new coach Dan Rosenfield?

A midsummer coaching change put Dan Rosenfield in the driver’s seat at Conant. The young Orioles fared very well this season, beating some tough teams and earning a playoff bye. Next year, however, will be the true test.

TOP 5 REPLAYS

1. Conant vs. Mascenic boys basketball, March 6

In recent years, this matchup has been relatively one-sided, but Mascenic showed they are going to be serious contenders during this playoff showdown, which the Vikings kept to a one-possession game until the final minutes.

2. Conant girls basketball vs. Fall Mountain, Feb. 21

Conant’s girls team had its ups and downs this season, but no high was higher than when they beat Fall Mountain in the last game of the season.

3. Briana Boulerice and Katie L’Ecuyer face off, Jan. 4

It’s not often you get to see two opposing stars as good as these face off – let alone swimming side by side in adjacent lanes!

4. ConVal vs. Conant boys basketball, Jan. 28

Sure, Rob O’Brien and Kyle Carland weren’t playing. But no matter who was on the floor, this was the closest game between these two teams in years, and it was truly a sight to behold.

5. Corey Barrett at the New England Championships

ConVal’s Corey Barrett had a terrific indoor track season, making it all the way to New Englands, but he had an admittedly disappointing race on the biggest stage. If he could run that one again, I’m sure he would; luckily, he has the spring track season to re-stake his claim as one of the fastest in all of New England.

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