The News-Times 2007-2008 All Area boys basketball team
Junior, Point guard
The Hatters' point guard was a one-man press break this season, dribbling through opposing defenses almost at will. "Team's couldn't pressure us," Danbury coach Tom Pardalis said. "Lenzie was just too fast for them to contain, let alone trap." Harrison continued to be the main distributor for Danbury, finishing the year with 79 assists (4.9 apg). The junior captain, however, wasn't just a passer. He was also a scorer. Harrison saw his point production more than double this year to 13.2 points per game. "His jump shot was a major improvement," Pardalis said. "I think he was 1-for-17 as a freshman, now he doesn't miss." Harrison was also a pest for opposing point guards, making 64 steals (3.4 spg) on the year. "� All-FCIAC West Division.
The senior captain was the rock the Hatters' leaned on all season. Escobar led Danbury in both scoring (14.5 ppg) and rebounding (5.8 rpg) and was second on the team in assists (2.5 apg) and steals (2.7 spg). "He was the most consistent player we had this season," Danbury coach Tom Pardalis said. "He did it all and he brought it every single night." Escobar was also tough. He played the latter half of the season with painful tendinitis in his knee and led Danbury in scoring with 19 points and four 3-pointers in the Hatters' Class LL state tournament loss to Greenwich while battling the flu. The versatile forward played both inside and outside for Danbury, guarding Trinity Catholic's Tevin Baskin one night and Greenwich's Russ Rosenband the next. "He's just a competitor," Pardalis said. "He wanted the challenge every night and he always seemed to rise to it." "� All-FCIAC West Division.
The senior captain offered one of the few bright spots in a tough year for the Tigers. Carranza finished the year as the area's third leading scorer, averaging 16.6 points an outing. He also led the Tigers in rebounding, grabbing 10.8 caroms a game. "He was our most consistent inside scorer and our leading rebounder," Ridgefield coach Ray Bielizna said. "But he also really started hitting his outside shot, which added a totally new element to his game." Carranza drained 15 3-pointers, which was third on the team. The 6-4 center scored a career-high 32 points in the Tigers' 88-80 triple-overtime loss to Staples on Feb. 5 despite fouling out in the second overtime. "Adam was going up against bigger guys every night, but he was never intimidated," Bielizna said. "He battled every night and kept us in so many games." Carranza also plays on Ridgefield boys volleyball team. "� All-FCIAC Central Division.
Newtown coach John Quinn described Troy as "the most talented basketball player" he has coached in his 12-year tenure. The senior captain possessed a complete offensive package, hitting 23 3-pointers while displaying the athleticism to get to the basket and finish with authority. Troy was the fifth leading the scorer in the area, posting 16.2 points an outing. He also shot over 80 percent (73-for-91) from the free-throw line this season and helped lead the talented Nighthawks to an 11-0 start and a 15-5 season. Newtown also reached the SWC and Class LL state playoffs. "There was a maturity and an urgency in him this year," Quinn said. "He was more aggressive this season and always seemed to step up in the biggest games." "� Unanimous pick for All-SWC First Team.
New Milford's senior captain scored more points and hit more 3-pointers this season and also saw his field goal percentage improve. O'Rourke was the sixth leading scorer in the area, averaging 15.9 points an outing. He also hit 13 3-pointers and shot 51 percent from the field. "His athleticism allowed him to do things teams just couldn't prepare for," New Milford coach Jim Luchsinger said. "His speed and skill was tough to match." O'Rourke also delivered 1.8 assists per game and made 1.7 steals a game. He also helped New Milford reach both the SWC and Class L playoffs. "He was the catalyst for everything we did," Luchsinger said. "He carried us on his back a lot this year." "� All-SWC First Team.
The Wolverines senior was possibly the surprise of the season for both opponents and his own coaches. Breeden finished the year as area's second leading scorer, averaging 16.7 points an outing. He also was the main distributor for the Wolverines, handing out 5.7 assists per game and grabbing 6.8 rebounds per game. "I can't honestly say I saw this coming," Abbott Tech coach Jon Nadeau said. "Gary just wants to win as much as anyone I've seen. He was our silent killer." Breeden, a soft-spoken captain, was a key as the Wolverines rallied from an 0-6 start by winning 15 straight games. Abbott Tech also reached the CSC semifinals and the quarterfinals of the Class M state tournament. "� All-CSC First Team.
Kaufman was a high flier for the Falcons, scoring 13.3 points per game. He also had dead-eye aim from long distance, draining an area-best 47 3-pointers. His 89 percent effort (61-for-68) at the free-throw line was also the best in the area. "He was the focal point of our offense," Joel Barlow's rookie coach Seth Babikian said. "He carried the load for us." Kaufman achieved his fantastic numbers without being overly athletic, according to Babikian. He just outsmarted everyone. "He is a heady, crafty kid," Babikian said. "He knows the game better than anyone." "� All-State Academic Team "� All-SWC Colonial Division.
The senior captain was Mr. Versatility for the Wildcats. He led Bethel in scoring with a 12 points per game average and handed out just under four assists a game. The forward wasn't shy on defense or the boards. Rose often guarded the opposing team's best players and grabbed an average of 6.8 boards a game. "Ryan is the epitome of what it means to be an unselfish player," Bethel coach Ray Turek said. "He had the ability to score a lot more, but he played smart, identified our mismatches and put his teammates in a position to succeed." Rose and the Wildcats reached the Class M semifinals before falling to eventual champion Stratford. "(Rose) and this group of seniors set the tone for the program," Turek said. "They were a fun group to coach." "� All-SWC Colonial Division. "� Selected to the CHSCA Class S/M West Senior All-Star Team.
The Brookfield senior is the only returning member to this year's All-Area team. The senior captain's stats were less impressive this year, but he did guide the Bobcats back to the state playoffs, an extremely impressive feat in itself. "It was huge for this group to get there," Brookfield rookie coach Bob Drysdale said. "It was one of our goals and Mike was a big part of our success." Shaker averaged 13.9 points an outing and hit 34 3-pointers, third best in the area. His field goal percentage also improved this year, despite the fact he faced a virtual box-and-one every night. "He worked extremely hard," Drysdale said. "He never stopped working even in practice and that's the attitude this team needed." Shaker is being recruited by Division III schools Franklin and Marshall, Drew, Kings College and Messiah College "� All-SWC Colonial Division "� All-SWC Academic Team "� Made the CHSCA Class S/M West Senior All-Star team.
Banks was unknown entering the season, but everyone knows the Panthers' big forward now. The junior, who led the Pomperaug junior varsity team in scoring as a sophomore, repeated the feat with the varsity this season. "We always knew he could score," Pomperaug coach Tim Lynch said. "But he really concentrated on improving his rebounding and defense, and that allowed us to keep him on the floor a lot more." Banks averaged 14.1 points an outing for Pomperaug and grabbed 6.2 rebounds a game, combining with senior center Chip Dylag to dominate the inside. But Banks' game wasn't limited to the block. He also drained 15 3-pointers this year and shot 77 percent (41-for-53) from the free-throw line. "We had him guarding guys outside a lot," Lynch said "He did a lot for us. Next year we will ask him to do more and if he keeps improving we should be pretty good." "� All-SWC Colonial Division.
COACH OF THE YEAR
When his team was staring at an 0-6 record, Nadeau was just trying to figure out how to win a game, let alone 17. Nadeau set new standards at Abbott Tech, reviving both the Wolverines' season and the program. The veteran coach, who just completed his eighth season at Abbott Tech, won the most games (17) in his tenure, posted his longest winning streak (15), won the CSC West Division for the third time, reached the CSC semifinals and won his first two state playoff games as Abbott Tech reached the Class M quarterfinals. "We always thought the wins would come," Nadeau said. "Just not quite like that." Nadeau was quick to credit his players for not giving up on the season. "They stayed positive, never got down on each other and listened even while we were losing," Nadeau said. "We knew the best was yet to come." The Wolverines ended up with three players earning All-CSC honors. Gary Breeden was named All-CSC First Team and Joe Groski and Rick Paez were selected to the All-CSC Second Team. But Nadeau, who was selected to coach the CHSCA Class S/M West Senior All-Star team, admits he never saw this amount of success coming. "We surpassed even our own goals," Nadeau said. "A lot of guys really stepped up this year."
-- Compiled by Dan Farrand