WHEN THE Little East men’s basketball preseason poll was released in October, Plymouth State was near the bottom of the list. The Panthers were picked to finish eighth in the nine-team league, ahead of only Castleton University.
Voters may have put Plymouth State in the poll’s basement had they known that senior guard Chris Cainan and senior forward Mike Osgood, a Nashua resident, would miss the first semester because of injuries. Cainan and Osgood are two of Plymouth State’s three captains.
So it’s more than a mild surprise that the Panthers entered the holiday break with a 6-4 overall record and were tied with Eastern Connecticut for first place in the Little East standings with a 3-1 record in the conference.
Manchester Central graduate Jaylen LeRoy is one of the main reasons Plymouth State has been able to overcome injuries and start strong this season. LeRoy, a 6-foot-3 junior guard, is averaging a team-high 18.8 points per game through 10 contests. He’s been the team’s only healthy captain.
“We’ve asked him to do so much,” Plymouth State coach Andrew Novick said. “Certainly he’s shown he knows how to score, but he’s starting to become a good all-around player. There are times when we ask him to bring the ball up. There are times when we ask him to be our stopper and guard the other team’s best player. Although he’s not real vocal, there are times when we ask him to provide leadership.”
LeRoy, who scored the 1,000th point of his college career last month, was the NHIAA Division I Player of the Year during his senior year at Central. He scored a game-high 25 points during a 60-58 overtime victory against Merrimack in the 2016 Division I championship game.
Three other New Hampshire residents who are first-year players at Plymouth State have also made major contributions this season. Junior guard Joe Simpson, a Manchester West graduate who played at New Hampshire Technical Institute last season, is averaging 14.0 points per game; Somersworth’s Bryton Early, a freshman guard, is averaging 9.4 points per game; and freshman forward Manny Alisandro, a Manchester Memorial graduate, is averaging 13.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.
“Those three New Hampshire kids have been a significant addition for us,” Novick said.
LeRoy averaged 11 points per game as a freshman at Plymouth State, and 23.7 points per game last season. He’s playing an average a 35.5 minutes per game this season, shooting 87 percent from the free-throw line and has scored at least 19 points in seven of Plymouth State’s 10 games.
“Where we are in the standings right now is due in large part to his leadership and maturity,” Novick said. “His work ethic is second to none. He’s in the gym all the time working to get better. Our on-the-floor leader right now is Jaylen.”
Ruben Resendes, who played midfield at Southern New Hampshire University, was recently hired as Franklin Pierce’s men’s soccer coach. Resendes, who graduated from SNHU in 2013, was the Northeast-10 Rookie of the Year in 2009. He spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Vermont. Resendes also spent 2015 and 2016 as the head coach at Dean College. The Bulldogs went 33-3-0 in those two seasons.
Rochester’s Taylor Wenczkowski, a junior forward, is the leading scorer on the University of New Hampshire women’s hockey team. Wenczkowski, who has seven goals and four assists in 19 games, attended Spaulding High School as a freshman, but graduated from the Virtual Learning Academy Charter School in Exeter.
Pelham High School graduate Keith Brown is leading the Endicott College men’s basketball team in points per game (22.1), field goals (67), 3-pointers (34) and free throws (31) through the team’s first nine games. Earlier this season Brown, a junior guard, scored the 1,000th point of his college career. He needed 55 games to reach the milestone. Jon D’Orlando is the only Endicott player to score 1,000 points in fewer games (51).
Salem native Cam Boudreau will leave the Boston Junior Bruins and join the Quinnipiac University men’s hockey team for the second half of the 2018-19 season. Boudreau, a defenseman, collected three goals and 11 assists in 29 games with the Junior Bruins this year.