Jim Fennell's H.S. Hoopla: Croteau relishes challenge at Bow
Lucas Croteau applied for the position of boys' basketball coach at Bow High mainly for the experience of going through the interview process.
Apparently he didn't need it.
Croteau was the school's choice to be its coach and, now, a few weeks shy of his 23rd birthday, he must surely rank as one of the youngest high school coaches in the country.
"I saw an opening and thought, what the heck, it couldn't hurt to put my name in," Croteau said. "It's quick, but I'm lucky to get the opportunity."
Croteau is well-versed in New Hampshire basketball, having starred at Spaulding High of Rochester before going on to play at Southern New Hampshire University. He wanted to stay in the game as a coach and started looking around for high school programs that needed a junior varsity coach or varsity assistant coach. He said his coaches at SNHU encouraged him to apply for the head position at Bow.
He went through two interviews and was offered the job just before the school year began.
"I was kind of surprised," said Croteau, who is also the pro shop manager at the Passaconaway Country Club in Litchfield. "I thought the first interview went well, but with my lack of experience and age, I wasn't sure they'd take me serious."
Croteau has been charged with the task of turning around a program that won five games a year ago. In addition, three players who would have logged major minutes either transferred or decided not to play.
Still, the Falcons are 2-2 heading into tonight's game against Winnisquam.
"We have a really tough schedule, but I think we can be in the middle of the pack (in Division III)," Croteau said. "The teams we've been competitive with, we've beaten."
Croteau said he has relied on veteran coaches like John Simmers of Farmington, Tim Cronin of Spaulding and Stan Spirou of SNHU for advice. Croteau said Simmers has been especially helpful preparing for the style of play in Division III since his team is also in the division.
"It's a totally different style," Croteau said. "I may not have quite the selection of players to choose from, but I have 10 kids willing to dive on the floor. It's more blue collar."
Croteau hired former SNHU teammate Alex Carmona as his JV coach, but he wasn't able to find anyone to be a varsity assistant, partly because the position is unpaid and partly, Croteau believes, more experienced coaches might have been hesitant to work for a coach so young.
"That was a challenge," Croteau said. "There weren't a lot of people coming out of the woodwork.
Croteau said his age has not been a problem with the players.
"I'm lucky with the group of kids I have," Croteau said. "They're buying in."
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SHOWDOWN IN PORT CITY: Pembroke Academy coach Matt Alosa knows his team will be favored tonight when it plays at Porstmouth, but don't think the Spartans are taking anything for granted.
Portsmouth is the defending champion in Division II boys' basketball and even though the Clippers' roster was gutted by graduation and the Spartans may be better than a year ago, Alosa expects nothing but a battle. That's the kind of respect he has for Portsmouth coach Jim Mulvey and his program.
The Clippers opened the season with a 59-54 win over Oyster River, while Pembroke is 2-0 after rallying to beat John Stark.
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THE OTHER SOCCER STAR: Morgan Andrews gets most of the headlines for the Milford girls' soccer team, and for good reason, but what sometimes may go unnoticed is that the Spartans have another premiere player in Dina Pitsas.
An all-state player in soccer, Pitsas is also a standout in basketball and track for the Spartans. She was also recently named the Wendy's Female High School Heisman Award winner for New Hampshire.
On the basketball court, Pitsas was averaging 18.3 points heading into Thursday's game against Manchester West.
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Jim Fennell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.