by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – Senior Hazen Union big man Tyler Rivard put a bow on a sensational season and career by being named Capital League Player of the Year last week.
Rivard also led Capital League First Team selections for a second straight year in one of the most competitive leagues in the entire state. The Wildcat center had a season for the record books, averaging over 23 points and 17 rebounds on the season, while becoming the first Hazen Union basketball player to eclipse 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. He also set the single game scoring record with 50 points in a win over Enosburg this season and will graduate with every school rebounding record imaginable. Joining Rivard on the Capital League First Team were Cooper Diego of Spaulding, Austin Wheeler of Lyndon Institute, and Montpelier’s Carson Cody and Carter Bruzzese. The dynamic Solon duo led Montpelier to 21 wins on the season and the Division II state title. Diego helped lead the Crimson Tide to an undefeated regular season, with their only loss coming to Montpelier in the Final Four. Wheeler helped lead a resurgent Vikings basketball program to a double-digit win season under first-year head coach and Hazen alum Eli Appleton, averaging over 22 points per game, eclipsing 30 points five times.
“Tyler had an incredible senior season and career and anytime you can break a Tim Shedd record here at Hazen is pretty impressive. He has given so much and done so much for this program. He will go down as the best three-sport athlete in school history and it’s not even close,” said head coach Aaron Hill at the conclusion of the season.
Second Team selections went to Brady Donahue of Williamstown, Ronnie Riby-Williams of Montpelier, and Spaulding’s Riley Severy, Tavarius Vance, and Cole McAllister. Hazen Uniion’s junior point guard Xavier Hill led Honorable Mention selections after another impressive season of orchestrating the Wildcat offense. He averaged over 11 points per game and led the team in assists. Hill played some of his best basketball in the postseason, including a career-high 24 points in Hazen’s second round win over White River Valley. He capped off the season with a second straight selection to the Vermont Dream Dozen roster and has led the Wildcats to two straight division III state title games, winning the state championship as a sophomore starter in 2022. Joining Hill as Honorable Mention selections were Tobey Bellows of Harwood, Ethan Davignon of Randolph, Mitchell Parkman of Thetford Academy, and Peoples Academy’s Sawyer Beck.
“Xavier and sophomore Brendan Moodie were just awesome for us throughout the playoffs this year. With teams focusing their defense on Tyler down the stretch, we got a glimpse of what these two are capable of doing and I’m excited to watch them develop even more for us next season,” said Hill.
Capital League Coach of the Year honors went to Montpelier’s Nick Foster.