Hilltopper Basketball Bounces Back

st j basketballST. JOHNSBURY - Almost a year after both St. Johnsbury's boys' and girls' basketball teams fell to Rice in the state playoffs, both teams are back on the court preparing for the start of basketball season.

For the boys, who finished last season 7-13 and were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, this season provides an opportunity for the core of last year's team to become one of the top teams in the state.

"[We're] adding three new players, who I think can have a solid impact on the team," said coach Tom O'Shea. "But they're gonna have to get used to playing with one another, kinda get to know each other's games and how they play. That takes a little bit of time."

Griffin Comerci, one of the team's seniors, echoed his coach's comments on chemistry. "It's important to have team chemistry," Comerci said. "Get together outside of school as a team, have some fun, watch some basketball games, something like that. Just, you know, get to know each other, become friends, and start to know each other's tendencies, so we can start to know each other better on the court."

The girls fared a bit better than the boys last year. They finished with a 12-8 record and played a home playoff game for the first time since 2007, defeating Spaulding in overtime in the preliminary round before falling to eventual champion Rice in the state quarterfinals. Many of the seniors from that team are gone, leaving a wave of sophomores and juniors to fill the void.

"It's a good team," said Johannah Driscoll. "It's pretty young. There's a lot of sophomores and juniors, [and] there's only three seniors. We're gonna have a lot of work to do."

For coach Jack Driscoll - who's also Johannah's father - the mission is simple.

"Our goal is to be the best team we can be at the end of the season," Coach Driscoll said. "We would like to get a home playoff game. If we can do those two things, then I think we've had a good season."

If St. Johnsbury were to grab a home playoff seed, it would be the first time they hosted a playoff game in back-to-back seasons since 2001-02. Neither of those teams made it past the state quarterfinals.

Full schedules for both St. Johnsbury's girls' and boys' basketball teams - as well as hockey, skiing, and all other winter sports - can be found at the Academy's athletics page.