hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

Sports

December 28, 2011

Hillie hoopsters solid after losing superstar

The Haverhill High boys basketball team is off to a 1-win, 2-loss start, but head coach Mike Trovato is pleased with his team's progress and play in the first three games.

"So far, so good," Trovato said. "The effort has been fantastic. Both of our losses were to very good teams."

Haverhill has lost to Andover and Acton-Boxborough, which had a combined 7-1 record as of Tuesday. But sandwiched in between was the Hillies' tough road win against Billerica.

"The Billerica win was huge for us," Trovato said. "Road wins in the MVC (Merrimack Valley Conference) are tough to get, and I was proud of our boys after that game."

The Hillies have surprisingly been paced by two sophomores in the early going. Matt Jameson is averaging 14.7 points per game, including 20-point performances in his last two games. He has been lethal from behind the three-point arc, hitting 12 of those shots in the first three games.

Another sophomore, Anthony Dionne, has been the most consistent scoring threat for the Hillies. Dionne has scored in double digits in each game this year and is averaging 13 points a game through Tuesday's action.

The emergence of the two sophomores has helped offset the loss of sensation Noah Vonleh, who transferred to New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire this season. Although they have a big void to fill, the Hillies aren't focusing on what they don't have.

"We honestly don't even talk about it at all," Trovato said. "Of course it would be great to still have Noah, but we are more focused on the players we do have."

Trovato said the biggest problem Haverhill has had is replacing Vonleh's size and ability to rebound. The Hillies have had trouble rebounding this season, and have been trying to incorporate a transition offense to account for their rebounding troubles.

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