Young Van Buren boys working hard to improve

VAN BUREN, Maine – A young Van Buren boys varsity basketball team and a coach entering his 44th year guiding student basketball players must find a way to work together this season if the Crusaders are to experience success on the court.

“We look to improve throughout the season,” Coach Steve Lapierre said. “This will be a young team that is working hard and I expect will be competing with other teams as the season progresses.”

The 2022-2023 Van Buren varsity basketball boys are: seniors Noah Martin and Mikail Deschaine; juniors Isaac Bressette, Dawson Searles, Aidan Morrow and Xaview Deschaine; sophomores Adam Ayotte, Zachary Martin and Jaimen Chasse; freshmen Ian Willis and Kaye Kurtyla; and eighth graders Ashton Chasse and Alex Violette.

Considering at one point both the Van Buren boys and girls were in danger of not having a team, due to a late start when their school went into a remote learning model due to COVID-19, the team found great success on the court. 

Van Buren finished with a 10-6 record that earned them the No. 3 seed in Class D North. The Crusaders defeated No. 14 East Grand, 58-20, in a preliminary playoff, earning a spot on the floor of the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor. In the quarterfinals, the Crusaders fell to No. 6 Schenck of Millinocket, 42-41 in a hard-fought contest.

But six players are gone from that squad, with three graduating and three others moving away from the school district, according to coach Lapierre.

That means a big load will fall on the capable shoulders of senior Noah Martin, a returning starter, who will be called upon to elevate his game this year.

“(Noah) will have a huge role not only in leading the team, but mentoring the younger players,” Lapierre said. 

Also starting for the Crusaders will be sophomore Ayotte, who impressed on the court during his rookie season.

“Adam got a lot of playing time and started a lot of games last season and will be handling the ball in most situations,” Lapierre said.  

Brothers Mikail and Xavier Deschaine will also start for Van Buren this season. 

“The fifth spot is up for grabs so time will tell,” Lapierre said. 

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