Washington County Boys Basketball Preview

Questions ready to be answered on the hardwood

December 03, 2011|By TIM KOELBLE |
  • Washington County Preps Previews
Washington County Preps Previews

The new boys basketball season brings on new questions, some that might be more difficult to answer than last year.

Which team, public or private, has the skill, balance and intangibles to win a league title?

Can Washington County get a repeat of long postseason runs that it had last season?

With only two All-County first-teamers back in the fold, who will elevate himself as the star among stars?

Williamsport and South Hagerstown shared the MVAL Antietam Conference title with 12-2 records on the way to the state finals. North Hagerstown was one game back. Will other teams challenge this season?

Broadfording Christian and Heritage Academy shared the Mason Dixon Christian Conference regular-season title. Will that be the case again?

Second-year coach Skip Chambers has a brighter outlook this season than he did one year ago.

“We had some kids playing summer basketball,” he said. “We’re building a new program and we are so much further ahead this year. We’ll be better than last year.”

The Warriors went 4-19 last year, and over the last four years they have gone 14-78 — matching the win total from their 14-9 season in 2006-07.

Back for the Warriors are 5-foot-9 senior guard Justin Lewis and 6-4 seniors Nathan Hardy and Eric Bitner. Caleb Jardeleza saw plenty of action last season and the Warriors will have 6-4 Aaron Miranda and 6-2 Riley Stephenson, a transfer from South Hagerstown.

Lewis received All-County honorable mention last year, averaging 9.2 points.

“We are small, but we want to be competitive by getting after people,” said Chambers. “Can we do that without giving up easy things? I don’t know. But we’ll have 10-12 kids that I expect to contribute.”

Broadfording Christian
Another MDCC season, another tough non-conference schedule. Burnie Clutz wouldn’t have it any other way.

Williamsport, Goretti, Musselman ... those teams and more are on the Lions’ slate.

With three straight years of 20-plus wins, the Lions will be challenged to reach that mark again. But Clutz, in his eighth year, is optimistic.

“I am excited and I think our starting five matches well with anyone,” said Clutz. “We’re seven deep and we will run, run, run. There won’t be a dry shirt at the end of the game.”

Mo Sallah, a 6-7 junior, returns with an additional 25 pounds on his frame, but is still a lean 195 pounds. Others returning are 6-5 junior Ben Cradduck, 5-10 sophomore Moni Anderson and 5-10 senior T.J. Campagna. Cisco Silva, a 5-11 guard, has transferred in for this season.

Clear Spring
Second-year coach Ryan Grabill plans on basketball by committee this season.

“We’ve got 13 players and everyone will see some time,” said Grabill. “I hope we can wear people down with our depth.”

Coming off an 11-13 season, the Blazers have three main players to build their season upon. Nick Hill (6-3) came on strong and ended with a 10.2 scoring average playing from the wing position. Ryan Aaron (5-11) averaged 8.6 points and was a second-team All-County selection. And for a third year, Clear Spring will be set up at point guard by Sam Elwood (5-10).

“We’ll lean on these three guys,” said Grabill. “Sam has a better understanding of what I expect. Hill came on strong and can be a top-flight player in the county. Aaron should bring different things to the game other than just shooting.”

Grabill expects to rotate players in and out of the post, including 6-2 senior Chris Miller and 6-foot senior Mikey Sensenbaugh, who averaged 5 points last year.

Grace Academy
Second-year coach Ira Brown is optimistic as Grace looks to improve on a 5-17 season.

“We expect to be a much more uptempo team and compete in the MDCC this year,” said Brown.

Grace has four players with varsity experience returning, beginning with 6-4 guard/forward Eric Boutillier, an inside-out type of slasher. The Knights are counting on 6-1 junior guard Alan Liu and 6-foot seniors Peter Hykes and Daniel Frederickson.

In their first four games, Grace has also received some scoring punch from 5-11 sophomore guard Shawn Price, who twice scored 12 points.

“The kids are hungry and making a good showing,” said Brown.

Boutillier averaged 14.2 points last year and was an honorable mention.

The Panthers have not had a winning season since 2004-05 when they went 20-4. It might be another year until they get back above .500.

“With what we have and looking at our schedule, the outlook is tough,” said coach Jeff Spielman. “We’ll be better next year. We just need to survive this year by playing hard.”

Hancock will be small, with 6-2 junior Chad Sipe up from the JV to work the inside.

Guards Garrett Wiles (5-10) and Vince Foreman (5-11) return and 5-10 Donnie O’Brien started some games last year.

“We will have to shoot the ball well from the outside,” said Spielman.

The Panthers lost top scorer Jarrod McCoy, who averaged 15.3 and was an All-County honorable mention, to graduation.

Heritage Academy
The Eagles have the winningest program of any Washington County school over the last 10 years with a .704 winning percentage.

Coach Mike Kidd will have a young team as graduation hit last year’s 17-6 unit hard.

The most experience returning comes from 5-10 senior guard Rob Martin, who will step into a leadership role. The only other senior, Chad Lowry, has a dislocated knee and might not be able to play.

“We’ll need to control the temp, be more patient and slow it down more than we have in the past,” said Kidd.

Up front the Eagles will have 6-1 Ben Cosner. Kidd said Cosner has worked hard on conditioning during the offseason.

“We’re teaching our young kids how to compete,” said Kidd.

Highland View Academy
Third-year coach John Henline is excited about his team, despite an 0-2 start as the Tartans adjust to a new offensive scheme.

“We’re putting in some things that will improve as the year goes on,” said Henline. “We’ll be a pretty good team. This new offense is designed to attack the rim.”

Fourth-year starter Paris Ritter, at 6-4, averaged 14 rebounds last season.

“(Paris) is playing above the rim this year so he should get more,” said Henline.

Other starters back include 5-8 Daniel Tulloch and 5-8 Ray Fisher at guard and 6-0 junior Justin Osoro, who had 30 points in HV’s season opener. Sophomore Hunter Sorenson (5-9) will round out the starting five.

North Hagerstown
The Hubs, 15-8 last year, will go for a third straight season over .500 with a young team that can only develop and mature as the year progresses.

Coach Kevin Hartman lost leading scorer D.D. Dickson (15.3 ppg) to graduation and forward Trey Jessie transferred to Bishop Walsh.

Among the front liners, 6-1 senior Nick Colvin returns along with 6-2 junior Andrew Yacyk and 5-11 senior J.R. Railing, but none of them bring back big scoring numbers. Colvin is a shotblocker and will probably set the North career record this year. He was an All-County honorable mention last year.

Elijah Benson, at 5-8, will man a guard spot and Hartman will also look to 6-3 Tedd Schoeck and 6-2 Will Peralta, both sophomores up from the JVs.

“We’ll see how the players coming back do,” said Hartman. “We are young with an opportunity to grow. I like the mix of kids we have, but we also have a tough non-conference schedule.

Saint James
The Saints have gone 15-10 and 16-9 in the last two seasons and have aspirations of equalling those marks this year despite a tough schedule in the Mid Atlantic Conference and the new Independent-Parochial School League.

First-year coach Paul Easton hopes to get the Saints out and running.

“We want to be uptempo and go full court defensively,” said Easton. “I’m looking for team chemsitry. We’ve got a tough schedule ahead.”

Veteran All-County first-team performer Avery Wilmore, a 6-2 senior, is back for his final fling at Saint James. Wilmore averaged 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds a game last year.

Also returning with experience are Emmett Orfan and Alec Wheeler, and the Saints will also be bolstered with two new players, 6-8 sophomore Obi Enechionyia and 6-5 junior Nnamdi Enechionyia.

“(Avery) has taken off about 10 pounds and he’s a skilled player,” said Easton. “We’ll look to him to be a leader.”

The Leopards came on at the end of last season to post a 13-12 record, something coach Eric Gerber hopes carries over to the start of this season.

“We had a pretty good summer with kids that actually showed up to play basketball,” said Gerber.

Smithsburg won’t be tall, with only returning veteran Brad Spickler in the post at 6-1. Guards Tyson Pierre (5-8) and Jordan Fortson (5-11), an honorable mention selection, will take care of the backcourt. Athletic Robbie Hogue will see plenty of time along with Greencastle transfer Trent Springs. Seniors Devaughn Wynne and Ronald Hardy and junior Kevin Gibson will balance out the team.

“Being small, we’ll have to make up for that by playing hard,” said Gerber. “We want to play fast, but how we do that remains to be seen. I was happy with the second half of last season and we were just a shot away from beating Williamsport. We’ll need to make smart decisions.”

South Hagerstown
The Rebels went to the state semifinals in Class 3A at Comcast but the road there could be significantly tougher this year in and the beginning of the schedule has with Tuscarora, Urbana and Thomas Johnson to start.

“That will be a true indicator for us,” said coach Kevin Naylor, who will boast possibly the top player in Washington County this year.

Junior Devon King, at 6-4, returns from a first-team All-County season in which he averaged 12 points and 8.3 rebounds. Naylor said King has gotten “bigger and wider.”
“He’s the guy a lot of people will work on trying to stop, but that could benefit others,” said Naylor.

One could be 6-3 senior DeVonte Morel, who last played basketball as a sophomore. He’ll be counted on to help pick up the scoring lost when Rico Provitt and Andre Pierre graduated.

“He’s is athletic and has good hops,” said Naylor. “He could be as good as Rico and Andre and that will help.”

South will be a guard-heavy team with 5-11 junior Xavier Freeman and 5-9 seniors C. J. Davis and Charlie Herring. Naylor will also lean on 6-3 Brandon Hess and 6-1 Jordan Bucher to shoulder some workload down low with their experience from last year.

“No doubt, we’ll be uptempo,” said Naylor.

St. Maria Goretti
The Gaels are off to a 4-2 start and played a tough Bishop O’Connell down to the wire in the Mid-Atlantic Invitational Tournament finals last week, giving credence to the thought of snapping a 41-game losing streak in the Baltimore Catholic League and getting off to a good start in the IPSL.

Second-year coach Amrit Rayfield has a bit of experience returning, led by 6-foot-5 forward Yannick Zanfack, an All-County honorable mention last year, and 5-11 senior guard Gavin Rajahpillay. Teaming up with Rajahpillay at guard will be 5-11 junior Tyrus Fleetwood with 6-4 senior Shae King starting at a forward.

The other starting spot will be taken by Lithuanian sophomore Martin Geben, who at 6-8 can play inside and out.

“(Geben) has plenty of skill,” said Rayfield. “Gavin had a good summer of running the offense and he can go for his shot. We’re looking to have a big year from Yannick and he’s one of our better defenders.”

The Gaels, 8-24 last year, lost Dylan Leazier to graduation and Juwaun Wilson transferred to Milford Mill.
“We’ll be uptempo, but at the same time we want to be a solid defensive team,” said Rayfield.

The Wildcats were hit significantly with graduation losses following their trip to the Class 1A state finals, but all is not totally wiped out. Gone are veterans Stephen Christy, the All-County player of the year, Connor Arnone, Brandon McCauley and Xavier Greene.

“We’ll have a different look than the past,” said Williamsport coach Scott Mowbray.

Returning is Tyler Wise, a 6-2 senior who averaged 11.3 points with eight rebounds and was a second-team All-County. Ryan Butts, a 6-foot guard and Alex Aleshire, a 5-11 guard/forward, were big parts of the Williamsport success.

The Wildcats will open the season without Sterling Christy, the younger brother of Stephen. Sterling Christy suffered a knee injury during the offseason and Mowbray said “I won’t put him on the floor until he is 100 percent ready to play.”

Mowbray expects playing time to go to seniors Alex Fridley (6-2) and Andrew Ramirez (5-8), juniors Ben Seibert (6-2) and Ryan Crabtree (5-10) and sophomore Brandon Jackson (5-11).

“We’ll be a lot more deliberate on offense and patient on defense with pressure,” said Mowbray. “We’ll be more of a halfcourt team.

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