HINESBURG — Every year as part of its day-long celebration of basketball, the Vermont Basketball Coaches’ Association honors a group they name The Dream Dozen — 12 of the best underclassmen in four different groups, one in Division I/II girls, one in Division I/II boys, one for Division III/IV boys and another for Division III/IV girls basketball players.
If one team had two Dream Dozen players returning, you can be certain that team will be formidable.
Having two Dream Dozen players does not guarantee championships, but it is a pretty good place to start for a coach trying to assemble the pieces.
The Windsor girls basketball team boasted two players on the Dream Dozen with Sydney Perry and Sophia Rockwood.
That is a heck of a start for the Yellow Jackets as they try to defend their Division III state championship.
Windsor coach Kabray Rockwood felt his Jacks should have had three on the Dream Dozen.
“Audrey Rupp is also deserving of it,” he said.
“It speaks to the kids’ hard work in a year where we had graduated a lot of seniors. They all stepped up and played big roles.”
The White River Valley girls basketball team also placed two on the Division III/IV Dream Dozen, Ashlyn Rhoades and Tanner Drury.
“We are going to be the ones now,” Rhoades said of the leadership role that she and Drury need to take.
“We don’t have a lot of freshmen coming up and we are going to have to take over now,” Drury said.
Drury and Rhoades said the team will invest plenty of time in basketball this summer.
“I believe we are going back to the Rutland league again this summer,” Drury said.
The Hazen boys basketball team was another program that placed two on the Dream Dozen being honored on Saturday — Brendan Moodie and Xavier Hill.
“We are really excited for the future and extremely excited about next year,” Hazen coach Aaron Hill said as he looks to get back to the D-III championship game where the Wildcats lost to Winooski.
“We have got a great bunch of gym rats. We play in a (summer) league against men’s teams and we get beat on.”
The Montpelier boys team claimed the Division II state championship and they will have Dream Dozen honorees Carter Bruzzese and Carson Cody back help the Solons to make a run at another crown.
Cody said he, Bruzzese and their teammates will make a commitment this summer toward defending their title.
“Every single one of our players will play an hour-and-a-half every day. We love to play. It is a really hard working team,” Cody said. “And we all play on the same AAU team.”
“We are super excited for next year and we should have a really good team,” Bruzzese said.
Bruzzese and Cody have also been exposed to plenty of winning through their older brothers Will Bruzzese and Bobby Cody. Bobby Cody won three titles with the Solons two years ago and Will Bruzzese was a soccer star who won soccer and basketball titles two years ago and graduated last year with yet another basketball crown.
It truly is all in the family with father Bill Bruzzese on the bench as an assistant coach.
CVU, the Division I state championship boys team, and runner-up Rice, each placed two players on the Dream Dozen. CVU was represented by Kyle Eaton and Tucker Tharpe and Rice placed Owen Eaton and Drew Bessette on the elite team.
Kyle Eaton had a team-high 19 points in the championship game.
“Kyle shot it very well (in the title game) but what got lost is the defense that Tucker played on Rice’s big man,” CVU coach Mike Osborne said.
Rice also returns two Dream Dozen players on the girls side in Elyse MacDonough and Kelli Cieplicki.
MacDonough was named Vermont’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore for the 2021-22 season when she averaged 15.2 points, 3.4 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
The Burlington girls team could well be a factor in Division I next year with the return of Dream Dozen players Bree McDonald and Nylah Mitchell.
“I think we will have the team that can do something,” McDonald said.
Mitchell said she believes the summer league that the Seahorses play in will help steel them for a strong 2023-24 high school campaign.
The VBCA day-long celebration on Saturday honored players and coaches for their accomplishments this past season. It also, through its selection of Dream Dozen underclassmen, provided a glimpse of the 2023-24 season. Those teams boasting more than one member on the Dream Dozen, have an awful lot to look forward to next year.
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