WHITEFIELD - The White Mountains Regional boys have been bogged down in near misses that ended in mediocre seasons and would positively love to get back into playoffs.

If the few can be mighty, and they#039;ll have to be, then the Spartans should put together a surprise season.

quot;We#039;re adopting the one-game-at-a-time attitude and trying to stay positive,quot; commented coach Mike Curtis. quot;Seems like we#039;d lose a close one then it would turn into five or six in a row. We want to avoid that kind of slide.quot;

Only 11 varsity players will take to the hardcourts for the Regional and seven have experience so that should help, but several are nursing injuries and that won#039;t help.

quot;We have seven returning and that#039;s a good thing,quot; said Curtis. quot;Our guard play should be pretty good; we have five varsity quality guards. Our forwards need to get a little more physical and more comfortable down low.quot;

The contingent of guards starts with Adam Dix, a senior averaging eight points and four assists per game. Another third-year starter is the sizable Heath Vincent and he#039;s been good for a half dozen points per game. Frank Lombardi has the energy with his nonstop hustle, while 11th-grade classmate Carl Hartford can shoot from the outside. Spencer Hill has shown all-around hoop ability and will add to the depth in ball handlers.

quot;We have at least three capable of getting around 16 points a game and if they can turn their experience into wins then we should do all right. It#039;s really about attitude,quot; remarked Curtis.

Hill is among the wounded with an ankle roll and Vincent missed the end of cross country season with a severely strained quad. Bryan Comeau, the big swingman with a double-digit scoring average, injured his wrist sliding into a base in fall baseball. Dix has a recurring knee problem.

quot;I#039;m hoping that Bryan will take control and be the quiet leader, he#039;s so athletic. Last year he averaged 13 points so we#039;re looking for those points from him and to increase his rebounding. And on defense for him to stop their big low post player. We#039;ll need Adam and Bryan to keep their heads in the game, both are seniors and both have plenty of playing time,quot; said Curtis.

In the preseason, Dix has played very well, so have Hartford and Vincent. Curtis says that the hustlers will help - Ken Cady, Rob Stevens and Dan Rylands. quot;They work hard in practice and they can be counted on for minutes in a game of all-out hustle.quot;

Both Steven Wheeler and Mike Girling are well over 6 feet tall and working on a better low post game. quot;The feet of the big guys still aren#039;t as quick as I#039;d like, but we#039;re working on getting stronger on both ends of the court.quot;

While working to get better, the Spartans can#039;t afford to lose touch with the basics. quot;We do a lot of skills and that#039;s going to continue. We work on getting the offenses and defenses and press breakers then do a lot of fundamentals,quot; said Curtis. quot;We#039;re trying to get the boys to run the floor better and we#039;re doing a lot of fast breaking in practice.quot;

The cluster schedule has some distinct possibilities for the Spartans and they#039;ll be at home for five of the first seven games. Maybe home court advantage can help the White Mountains boys gain some confidence to start.

quot;We#039;re pretty athletic and I think this is a tournament team, offered Curtis. quot;We#039;re going to get better, if the guys work at it. We#039;re trying to keep the positive fire burning.quot;

Figuring out how to win the close ones that got away last year is the hump they need to get over and as the coach says, quot;it really is about attitude. The juniors have real good attitudes and work ethics. My goal as the coach is to mesh the kids into a stronger combination. Take one game at a time and improve in each one.quot;

The breakthrough season the White Mountains boys would like to put together is within reach with a big effort from all 11 players. They have the guards to lead the way. The show opens tonight with Groveton.

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