by Ken Brown
HARDWICK – Head coach Aaron Hill and his Division III defending state champion Hazen Union Wildcats will open the high school basketball season in December by hosting the Dave Morse Classic (DMC) on what should be a very special Banner Night and homecoming for many former players.
Hazen will welcome Williamstown, Lamoille, and Randolph to town for the seventh installment of the DMC on December 14 and 16. Hill and his Wildcats will hang the school’s eighth basketball state championship banner (sixth under Hill) on Friday night. Preparations have been underway by Hill and supporters to also honor the players, coaches, managers, and contributors from the other seven teams that have won basketball titles that same evening during halftime of both games on December 16. Hill has been in touch with many members and coaches of those former championship teams and many have agreed to attend the ceremony from all around the country. There will also be a reception in the high school cafeteria that night after the championship game and all former players are invited back to the gymnasium the next day at 10 a.m. for a pick-up basketball game.
“Dave meant so much to this program and community and we are very excited to bring back so many players and coaches from our championship teams during such a special tournament. It feels more like a family reunion than a basketball event. We have confirmation that players and coaches from as far away as Colorado, North Carolina, and Illinois are coming back for the event. The players from last years’ team are very excited to raise their own championship banner in front of so many past Hazen champions. We are hoping it will be a special night of celebration for our basketball program and our community,” said Hill.
Hill and his basketball program will also be deeming their December 30 home game against rival Peoples Academy as Hardwick Academy Purple and Gold Night. They will be honoring the past state champion and runner-up teams from Hardwick Academy that include the 1931 basketball state title team and the 1964 and 1966 baseball state title teams.
“The restoration of the Hardwick Academy Bell through Finn Rooney’s vision really made this past championship run special for me and all of the players. It brings families, friends, and communities together and we wanted to do something to recognize those teams from the past that started it all,” said Hill.