Nobody saw Carter Nordland coming. Not this version of Carter Nordland.
Not the Berkshire League. Not Wamogo High boys basketball coach Gregg
Hunt, a winner of 500 games and as perceptive as they come when it comes
to Dr. Naismith’s game. Not Carter Nordland.
The senior year expectation was solid. A nice player that would give you
effort and contributions at both ends of the floor, they type of guy
that every team needs. But not the guy that would become the face of the
team and be the center cut in a championship season.
Listen to Hunt.
“We knew he would be a very good player when he was a freshman but
didn’t think he would be a star,” Hunt said. “I was hopeful he would be
a scorer but it didn’t look like it. As a junior I hounded him to be the
best defender in the Berkshire League. I believed he could be the best
on-ball defender in the league if he worked hard. Maybe he would be a
second team all-star.”
After averaging just over five points a game as a junior, Nordland had
the same type of mindset as Hunt.
“At the beginning of the season I expected around 12 points a game, a 10
and 10 type player,” Nordland said. “I didn’t expect this. I got off to
hot start and never looked back.”
Hot start? How about hot start, hot middle, hot finish, steamy good
scalding season. Nordland became the kind of story that makes you stand
up and notice for all the right reasons. He didn’t meet expectations, he
blew them out of the water with the impact of a 350 pound whopper doing
a cannon ball in the pool.
Nordland, a 5-11 guard, walked out of his junior season a polished
contributor. He walks out of his high school career a seasoned star
leaving a legacy of not what should be but what could be.
The defense was the sticky, relentless in-your-face irritation that met
expectations. How much better can you be than the best? But the offense
stunned those who weren’t really worried about the five-six point a game
guy. Both opponents and teammates alike.
The final time around Nordland averaged 19 points a game. He broke the
20-point barrier 10 times including a virtuoso 27-point gem against
Litchfield in the Berkshire Tournament finals. He hit 61 three-pointers
(five in the 64-51 victory over Litchfield). He managed to dish out
four assists a game and led the team in foul shooting at 79 percent.
Nobody was prepared for Carter 2.0.
“Carter’s transformation from junior year to senior year has been
exceptional. As a player the scouting report on him going into the
season was to give him a step because he was far more dangerous playing
off the dribble than as a spot up shooter,” Thomaston High coach A.J.
Bunel said. “Well after several games with five threes later, it’s safe
to say the scouting report had to be rewritten.”
There was no magic to the transformation. Just hard work and his
understanding of what his role would be his senior year.
“I realized that if we were going to win games I needed to score,”
Nordland said. “I was the only guy returning with varsity experience. I
played AAU ball in the spring and five days a week with Garrett
Sattazahn (former Wamogo All-State player). I played in the Bristol
League in the fall. I worked on my jump shot all summer and made my
mid-range game better. In our winter tournament I got 19 against Canton
and 22 in a loss to Lewis Mills. I just got confidence. I knew I could
score if I took more shots.”
“For Carter it was a lot of hard work and determination,” Hunt said.
“When he played AAU ball he also played baseball and showed a lot of
time-management skills. At times Carter would get mechanical on the
floor and I’d say just let it fly. He became smooth. It’s confidence. He
always had a good tear-drop and the corner three-pointer sets it up and
he used screens very well.”
Opponents paid a price for Nordland’s new-found proficiency with the
ball in his hands. Wamogo grabbed both the BL title and BL Tournament
crown. Nordland was voted the No. 1 player in the league All-Star
voting, earned All-State honors and was selected to play in the
Connecticut High School Coaches Association All-Star Game.
“What Carter meant to Wamogo is immeasurable,” Bunel said. ”I don’t
think anyone had Wamogo in the conversation as potential champs. They
graduated half their roster from last season including first-teamer
Charlie Coffey and three other starters.”
Nordland has rich, rich bloodlines. Bill Gates type rich. Mom Katie
scored more than 1,300 points at Wamogo and was an integral part of the
Warriors 1995 state championship team. Uncle John Matthews was a
1,000-point scorer and part of Thomaston High’s 1991 state title team.
Aunt Amy is a Thomaston High legend with almost 1,600 points while
leading the Bears to three straight Class championship games and the
1993 state title. She is also a member of the Connecticut Women’s
Basketball Hall of Fame. The Matthews are blue-blood basketball royalty.
Nordland fits right fine in the basketball legacy. Yet, there is never a
guarantee. In fact, if the metamorphous from junior to senior season was
impressive the progression from freshman season speaks volumes of equal
“Carter has matured a lot,” Hunt said with a large dose of admiration.
“He has learned to control his emotions. When our freshman coach asked
him why he didn’t take a charge one day he said, I don’t take charges. “
“My attitude was cocky, in my teen years I was kind of a jerk,” Nordland
admitted. “At the beginning of the season I was on the scrimmage team
instead of JV, just freshman. I told myself I have to learn to play
basketball the right way.”
Hunt thinks maybe those early struggles came at least somewhat from
those rich bloodlines.
“Maybe Carter came in thinking he had to be a combination of John
Matthews, Katie and Amy Matthews. Those are big shadows,” Hunt said.
Nordland dismisses the idea and gradually evolved into the player that
grew away from the individual goals into the team concept.
“My freshman year I just thought I wanted to score 1,000 points,”
Nordland said. “With the Covid year and less games I knew that would be
tough. After my sophomore year I just started caring more about
So people have noticed about the winning thing. Nordland is a first
class gentleman. Big smile, big heart. The kid who would gladly help the
little elderly lady across the street, the kid you want to ride the
river with. But don’t be fooled. He will steal your willpower on the
“I’m laid back and I let things come to me but I hate losing,” he said.
(With a smile).
“Carter has made every other teammate on the court better,” said Hunt.
“He is so cool under pressure; we wanted him to have the ball with the
game on the line.”
Wamogo nights always have a Nordland touch to them. A large family
contingent, mom, sister, grandparents, aunts and uncles, girlfriend are
present at virtually every game. Win or lose, mostly wins in a 21-3
championship laden season, there are always hugs.
Carter Nordland has brought a great game and maybe even more importantly
a warm feel to the basketball season and a memorable career. He didn’t
live up to his potential, he moved the bar as to what most people
thought his potential was. He went beyond.
“Coaching against Carter it’s easy to see he’s a tremendous leader and
teammate,” Bunel added. “He gets everyone involved and celebrates his
teammates’ successes before acknowledging his own. He competes at the
highest level in all phases of the game. “
If you have to leave and they all do, you leave like Carter Nordland. On
top as the BL’s best. This was Carter Nordland’s season in the sun. He
shared with us a big game and big smile. He showed us what could be. It
was a four month ride to remember.
Pretty cool. Carter cool.