The round trip is about five miles longer in the opposite direction, and the faces are all new to Mark Thurlow, who takes over as coach at Buckfield after a lengthy tenure at Telstar.
And there were plenty of faces waiting to greet him. Thurlow has 33 total players in the program, which means he will have 15 on his bench any given night.
Jared Eastman gives the Bucks one of the potential top scorers in the EWC, while the athleticism of Sidney Jackson and soccer star Jon Randolph should be a boost as they grow into basketball players.
Buckfield has gone with a base defense early, but Thurlow hopes the team will be able to switch on the fly as it learns his system. Size is limited, so the Bucks will try to compensate with quickness, pressure, and technique on the boards.
The schedule will be rugged early, with Valley and Forest Hills for openers. The Bucks should have the talent and numbers to be in the playoff mix.
Coach: Mark Thurlow (first year)
Last year’s record: 5-12, lost in Western D preliminary
Returning athletes: Seniors — Jared Eastman (5-11 guard), Tyler Vallee (5-8 guard); Juniors — Alec Brough (6-2 forward), Aaron Rowe (5-9 guard), Hunter Wiley (6-0 forward/guard), Brian Kimball (6-2 forward); Sophomore — Jake Kraske (6-0 guard/forward).
Key losses: Micah Madore (5-9 guard), Robert Rowe (6-2 forward), Keenan Stockdale (6-2 forward), Jonah Williams (6-2 guard/forward).
Promising newcomers: Juniors – Jon Randolph (6-2 forward), Sidney Jackson (6-1 forward).