Thunderbirds expecting strong season behind Walker, Cutting

The Missisquoi boys’ basketball team will be a strong team in the post during its 2016-17 season with two seniors leading the way.

Seniors Richard Walker and Nick Cutting will lead a class of seniors for the Thunderbirds and should have a strong game down low throughout the season.

“Cutting and Walker are our captains this year and will both be good leaders for us,” said Missisquoi coach Jim Bose, who’s entering his 12th season with the Thunderbirds. “Walker is 6 feet, 7 inches and will be a force down low, and Cutting is a very good shooting forward.”

Bose is also expecting Riley Wilkins and Mike Wright to play solid minutes for the team and be keys to a successful season.

With a student population on the cusp of Division I and Division II standards, the Thunderbirds have been teetering between the two Divisions in the past seven years. They spent the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons in Division II before going back to Division I the past four seasons.

With a declining population, the Thunderbirds are heading back to Division II for the upcoming season.

“We just couldn’t compete with the Division I programs, because our program of boys is really down,” said Bose. “We have 23 boys in the program and will not have enough for a freshmen team. Varsity will carry only 10 players consisting of several young players without a ton of basketball experience. Being in Division II gives us a better chance for making a playoff run, but will still have some good competition against good Division II teams.”

One big loss from last year’s team was Austin Sullivan, who graduated last year, so it will be key for the upcoming guards to step up and fill those shoes.

After finishing last year’s season with an 11-9 regular season record, the Thunderbirds entered the Division I playoffs with the No. 10 seed before falling to BFA-St. Albans in the first round.

Missisquoi begins its season Dec. 10 when it hosts Enosburg.

“Defense will be a big part of our team’s success and we must force opponents to be uncomfortable running their offense,” said Bose. “Without a lot of numbers, we also must stay healthy and injury free.”

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