NEW BRITAIN – The 2022-23 boys basketball season saw different head coaches from last year at four of the five local schools. New Britain was the only area school to retain the same leadership, but that didn’t stop these team’s from getting the most out of their star players.
The Newington Nor’easters and Southington Blue Knights represented the two best local teams this season combining for 29 regular season wins. The Knights and Nor’easters earned five honors on this year’s All-Herald Team.
Two players also make a return to the local all-stars after being named All-Herald in the fall for their efforts on the football field.
Leading things off is the Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year Joe Vasquez who stands as the only Plainville Blue Devil selected. Vasquez played in all three phases for the Devils’ football team and his athleticism propelled him back among the best players on the basketball court as well.
Despite a 4-16 record for Plainville, Vasquez led the area in scoring with 22 points per game to go along with about six assists and five rebounds per contest. As a junior, Plainville head coach Jeff Hoyt is excited to see what the guard will be able to do in his final season after another full offseason.
Berlin’s River Eberhardt received significant consideration for the local player of the year honor before Vasquez got the nod. As a junior, Eberhardt posted 16 points per game, 5.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.3 assists. He scored 20 or more points in nine games this season and converted 45% of field goals, 39% from 3-point range and 74% from the foul line.
Newington’s first player on the board is sharp-shooting junior Avery Mickens. Nor’easters head coach Scot Wenzel noted that Mickens is one of the best shooters he’s ever coached, and it showed. The junior sunk 70 threes in the regular season en route to averaging 15.8 points per game.
Southington’s Ryan Hammarlund might stand as the most athletic player named All-Herald this season. This junior was all over the floor for the Knights this season averaging 14 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. Hammarlund’s efforts this season were highlighted by a 22-point, 10-steal performance against Bristol Central in early-February.
Senior Dontay Bishop of New Britain joins Vasquez as the second player featured for both football and basketball this school year. Bishop stands 6-foot-6 and anchors the paint for the Hurricanes. The University of Rhode Island football commit averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds per game in his senior season with the Canes.
Alongside Hammarlund you’ll find senior Luke Penna running the floor for the Blue Knights. Penna led Southington with eight rebounds per game to go along with 12 points per contest.
The point guard responsible for getting things going for Southington this season – when they aren’t running on the fastbreak – was senior Aidan Buck. Buck led the trio in scoring with 15 points per game. He also logged three rebounds and four assists per game to help the Knights to a 14-win regular season.
Junior Adam Alexander was the best defender in Newington this season and one of the most versatile players in the area. Alexander played both point guard and power forward for the Nor’easters and led the team with 6.8 boards per game. He trailed Mickens scoring 12.3 points per game this season.
New Britain’s Jackson Forte led much of the offensive execution for the Golden Hurricanes this winter. Forte matched Bishop’s 12 points per game and helped out with three rebounds two assists per game as well.
The 10th and final slot goes back to Berlin and senior Marino Fanelli. Fanelli lands in the same sharp-shooter category as Newington’s Mickens. As a part of the 6-14 Redcoats, Fanelli couldn’t sneak up on anybody and still shot 37% from 3-point land while averaging 13 points per game. His head coach described him as a “sniper” and proved it this season with his ability to take over games using his jumper.
2022-23 All-Herald Boys Basketball Team:
Senior Dontay Bishop (New Britain)
Junior Jackson Forte (New Britain)
Junior River Eberhardt (Berlin)
Senior Marino Fanelli (Berlin)
Junior Adam Alexander (Newington)
Junior Avery Mickens (Newington)
Senior Aidan Buck (Southington)
Junior Ryan Hammarlund (Southington)
Senior Luke Penna (Southington)
Junior Joe Vasquez (Plainville)*
*Herald Boys Basketball Player of the Year