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Underclassmen game features three local players

Mascenic’s Stauffeneker, as well as Conant’s O’Brien and DeGrenier play in showcase game at NH Institute of Technology

Following the conclusion of the 2012-13 high school basketball season, the top 24 boys and girls underclassmen from around the state were supposed to suit up for the NH Chips All-Star Underclassmen Showcase games.

It was scheduled to be the first event of the NH Basketball Coaches All-Star weekend that also featured the annual senior games. But an NHIAA rule that prohibits underclassmen from participating in such an event during the school year put a stop to the games, which would have resulted in each player losing eligibility in the sport for an entire year from the date of the games.

So the games were postponed to Friday, which is allowed by the NHIAA when school is not in session. And three local players took full advantage of the opportunity.

“It was a lot of fun being able to play with those kids because they’re all talented,” said Mascenic’s Jared Stauffeneker. “It was interesting to see the kids from Division I and Division II and how they play.”

Originally, then Conant juniors Robert O’Brien and Eli Hodgson, along with Stauffeneker, who just completed his sophomore year, were selected to play in the boys game after finishing in the top six of the all-state voting for underclassmen. The original rosters were made up of the top six underclassmen from each division.

“I was definitely looking forward to it,” said O’Brien. “It was cool to meet some of the top kids in the state.”

But since the games were moved to the summer, not everyone could make the games so the original rosters were altered a bit. Stauffeneker and O’Brien remained part of the boys games, but Hodgson was unable to play due to a trip out of the country.

“I do wish they had it before because there were a lot of guys that couldn’t make it because its summer and they had other stuff to do,” said O’Brien.

And Hodgson was not the only one, so the game was opened up to others in the state and that is when soon-to-be Conant sophomore Josh DeGrenier was added to the list. But despite some players being unable to attend, there was still plenty of talent on display.

On Friday, a total of 36 players competed in the boys portion of the event.

The players were broken up into four total teams, two red and two white. For 20 minutes, a red and white would play and then make way for the other two squads. In all, each team played three 20-minute segments against the same opponent.

“I think the format worked well,” said Stauffeneker.

Stauffeneker and DeGrenier ended up on the same team and played against O’Brien’s squad.

“I was just looking to have fun and play with guys I don’t get to see against during the year,” said O’Brien.

While it was a bit of an informal atmosphere, the players had a lot to gain with some college coaches sitting in the stands watching their every move.

“It definitely made me a little more nervous going into it knowing college coaches were there watching,” said Stauffeneker. “But it definitely is making me feel like I want to go to college and play basketball.”

This summer, all three have been playing basketball. O’Brien and DeGrenier are playing for Conant’s summer team, while O’Brien also plays for an AAU showcase team out of Boston. Stauffeneker plays for the Granite State Raiders AAU team based in Concord.

For the locals, they got a chance to see what the talent looks like outside of Division III. Since most high school teams only play a game or two out of their division and it is almost always the closest schools, it gave all three a chance to see what other areas of the state had to offer.

During this past season, O’Brien helped Conant win the 10th state title in program history and led the Orioles in scoring in the championship game win over Campbell. DeGrenier saw all of his playing time off the bench for the D-III champion Orioles as a freshman.

Stauffeneker scored a school record 57 points in a late season overtime win at Monadnock, but just missed out on a playoff appearance.

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