Souhegan getting on-the-job training

There have been championship-caliber high school teams that have lost a lot of talent to graduation.

And then there’s what has happened to the Souhegan High School boys basketball team.

Coming off a loss in the Division II championship game to Pembroke Academy in 2013, the Sabers lost all five starters to graduation and return just two players who saw any varsity time last season.

“We have a really inexperienced basketball team,” first-year coach Peter Pierce said. “It’s
cyclical in nature, but I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a varsity group that’s played fewer varsity minutes. You have a group that just left here that played primarily all the minutes for three years, and deservedly so. But there is a cause and effect that happens.”

The effect is that Pierce, who spent two years at Con-Val after serving as the junior varsity coach at Souhegan before that, isn’t quite sure what he’s got on his roster, other than a group of players who want to show what they can do.

“We don’t know who are leaders are, we don’t know our identity, we don’t know what we do well or poorly,” Pierce said. “We just have a lot of questions that have to be answered, and no matter how you coach them or what you do, none of those answers are going to come until you log minutes.”

One of those returning players is guard A.J. Hayes, who the Sabers’ will rely on, at least early, to handle the ball. Brian Dworkin also saw varsity minutes a year ago and will be asked to help the guide the team early in the season.

“I think they’re going to be OK,” Pierce said. “They have athleticism and they’re working hard. The only thing that stands between them and success is getting some experience. They need those first six or eight games, including the (holiday) tournament games, to get an identity.”