Continuing the success: Greencastle-Antrim’s Joel Zola, a Public Opinion Second Team All-STar last season, has returned for his junior season in
Continuing the success: Greencastle-Antrim's Joel Zola, a Public Opinion Second Team All-STar last season, has returned for his junior season in hopes of leading the Blue Devils to another Mid Penn Colonial Division title. (Public Opinion file/Ryan Blackwell)
BOYS

BASKETBALL

Greencastle-Antrim

Blue Devils

Coach: Gary Martin, third year, 40-13 (.757).

Last year: 23-6 (12-0, won Mid Penn Colonial Division); placed sixth in District 3-AAA; lost in the opening round of the PIAA playoffs to Neumann-Goretti.

Starters lost: Denver Cordell (P.O. First Team); Corey Meyers (P.O. First Team); Denton Cordell (P.O. Second Team).

Returning starters: Zach Faulkner (jr., G, 6-0, 12.5 ppg, P.O. First Team); Joel Zola (jr., F, 6-3, 8 ppg, P.O. Second Team).

Other top players: Brandon Puffenbarger (sr., C, 6-10, P.O. HM); Danny Stepler (sr., F, 6-0); Austin Scott (sr., F, 6-4); Josh Young (sr., G, 5-9); Holden Baker (sr., PG, 5-7); Matt Montedoro (jr., F, 5-10); Eli Englehart (jr., G, 5-9); Jeremiah Barber (jr., G, 5-9).

Outlooks: "My expectations are the same as the kids'," Martin said. "We want to come out and win our conference again. We want to qualify for the Mid Penn tournament, and we'd also like to win districts and win states. So our goals are pretty lofty, but our strengths are the fact that our kids have some experience. We have a lot of leadership as far as experience goes. And I want the pressure to win. If the crowd and the fans and community are a little upset about a loss, that's what I want. They sort of demand you to win, and that's what I demand of my kids."

Notes: The Blue Devils have just a 10-man roster this year, but they'll use underclassmen Sammy Sprague and Wayne Kline from the JV team when necessary ... Greencastle has won 2 consecutive division titles ... Austin Scott returns to the Blue Devils after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament, causing him to miss his entire junior year ... Gabe Fridgen will not play this year; he graduated early ... Greencastle boasts the biggest player in Central Pennsylvania in 6-foot-10 center Puffenbarger.

Opener: Friday, at Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament vs. Waynesboro at Waynesboro, 8:30.

James Buchanan

Rockets

Coach: Larry Strawoet, first year.

Last year: 4-18 (0-12 Mid Penn Colonial Division).

Starters lost: Coy Quivers (P.O. First Team); Sam Wingert.

Returning starters: Liam Corcoran (sr., G, 5.8 ppg); Grant Strawoet (sr, F, 9.1 pgg, P.O. honorable mention); Garrett Malanka (sr., G, 6.9 ppg): Jake Muller (sr., G).

Other top players: Dustin Gossert (sr., G); Aubrey Brown (sr., G); Josh Lechleitner (sr., F); Austin Metzler (sr., F); Sloane Bendel (jr., F); Zach Czuprynski (jr., F); Dustin Ziemba (jr., F); Grant Buchanan (jr., G).

Outlooks: "I think overall the expecatation for the season is to be better than they were last year," Strawoet said. "I think they need to commit themselves every day they step on the basketball court to make themselves better and make their team better, to play with a lot of heart and to work hard every day that we come into practice to do the little things that will make us better."

Notes: The Rockets had a down year in 2011-12 after getting above .500 the year before ... James Buchanan has 3 freshman - Ryan Hege, Gage Piper and Toby Sowers - who all are expected to get varsity time ... Senior Andrew Rupert is also a newcomer to the squad.

Opener: Friday, at Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament vs. Chambersburg, at Waynesboro, 5:30.

Shippensburg

Greyhounds

Coach: Ray Staver, first year.

Last year: 5-17 (4-8 Mid Penn Colonial Division).

Starters lost: Marshal Witmer (P.O. honorable mention); Matt Chiappelli.

Returning starters: Mac Miller (sr., G, 6-1, 11 ppg, P.O. Second Team); Tyrell Kater (sr., PG, 5-11, 5.6 ppg); Tony Johnson (sr., G, 5-11, 5.5 ppg).

Other top players: Reid Sighas (sr., F, 6-3); Seth Frey (jr., G, 5-11); Spencer VanScyoc (jr., G, 6-0); Britton Hastings (sr., F, 5-10); Clint Bake (jr., F, 6-2).

Outlooks: "I really think we can be competitive in the league," Staver said. "I like to think we could be .500 or better. We really just need to turn things around and get things headed in the right direction. Last year was a very difficult year from all accounts, and I think the whole approach hopefully will get us headed back in the direction of winning."

Notes: Although the Greyhounds have 8 seniors, only 4 of them played varsity regularly last year ... Staver is in his third stint as head coach ... He last coached the Greyhounds from 1998 to 2008 ... In 20 seasons as head coach, Staver boasts 17 winning records.

Opener: Friday, at Hanover Tip-Off Tournament vs. Columbia, 6.

Waynesboro

Indians

Coach: Tom Hoffman, 13th year, 115-169 (.405).

Last year: 3-19 (3-9 Mid Penn Colonial Division).

Starters lost: Johnnie Adgers, Kyle Line.

Returning starters: Cole Warrenfeltz (sr., 6-1, G, 7.7 ppg, P.O. honorable mention); Tim Ingram (jr., F/G, 6-1, 5.75 ppg).

Other top players: Seth Hoffman (jr., G, 5-11); Connor Fetterhoff (so., F, 6-0); Shaquill Smith (jr., PG, 5-10); James Bennett (sr., F, 6-0); Ryan Kelley (so., G, 5-8); Devonte Montgomery (jr., G, 6-2).

Outlooks: "It's kind of an interesting dynamic because I have to rebuild my own program," Hoffman said. "Our talent level has definitely increased over the past two years particulary. We feel very good about where we're heading. We have a very difficult schedule, though, so we have to see if we're ready to step up this year or if we're another year away."

Notes: Both Adgers and Line elected not to return to the basketball team for personal reasons ... On the 12-man roster, the Indians have just 3 seniors ... Montgomery is a transfer from North Hagerstown who Hoffman expects to make a significant impact.

Opener: Friday, at Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament vs. Greencastle-Antrim, at home, 5:30.

Fannett-Metal

Tigers

Coach: Greg Best, 11th year, 97-142 (.406).

Last year: 8-15 (2-12 Sideling Hill League).

Starters lost: Matt Chilcote (P.O. honorable mention); Eric Foy (P.O. honorable mention); Connor Rosenberry.

Returning starters: Walker Bannister (jr., F, 6-1, 15.2 ppg, P.O. First Team); Jordan Hurrell (sr., G, 5-10, 9.6 ppg).

Other top players: Bryce Chilcote (jr., F, 6-1); Trevor Reisinger (sr., F, 6-2); Ryan Snyder (sr., G, 5-11); Ben Metcalf (jr., G, 6-0); Dylan Bradley (sr., G, 5-11); Dan Peppernick (sr., F, 6-2); Josh Walls (sr., F, 5-11).

Outlooks: "So far, it's been a great attitude," Best said. "This team has a very hard work ethic. I think we definitely have to be ready to play every night. It's going to be a very competitive league this year - there are a lot of teams that are senior-loaded this year."

Notes: Best's No. 1 goal is to be .500, which the Tigers have not done since the 2009-10 season ... Bannister was the only Tiger to average a double-double last year.

Opener: Tuesday, at Chestnut Ridge, 7:30.

McConnellsburg

Spartans

Coach: Dennis Swope, second year, 5-16 (.238).

Last year: 5-16 (3-11 Sideling Hill League).

Starters lost: Evan Appleby (P.O. honorable mention); Tyler Branche.

Returning starters: Tyler Green (sr., G, 5-7, 18.3 ppg, P.O. First Team); Jesse Swope (sr., G, 5-6, 7.2 ppg); Tony White (sr., F, 5-9, 12.7 ppg).

Other top players: Hunter Miller (sr., F, 5-8); Nick Daniels (jr., F, 5-6); Tyrell White (so., F, 5-8); Matt Snyder (jr., C, 5-10).

Outlooks: "We've been having some really good practices so far," Dennis Swope said. "Hopefully we can shoot the ball like we did last year, and our strength is definitely going to be our quickness."

Notes: Out of the 15 Spartans on the roster, 7 of them are freshman ... Swope is expecting big things from Green, who has been a standout during the preseason.

Opener: Friday, Dec. 14, at home vs. Everett, 6.

Forbes Road

Cardinals

Coach: Jeff Gelvin, 18th year, 243-179 (.576).

Last year: 9-14 (3-11 Sideling Hill League).

Starters lost: Chris Everts (P.O. honorable mention); Brett Burger; Jordan Sowers.

Returning starters: Tristan Gelvin (jr., G, 5-11, 13.2 ppg, P.O. Second Team); Chase Shaw (jr., G, 5-7, 9.22 ppg, P.O. honorable mention).

Other top players: Tyson Berkstresser (jr., F, 5-10); Kyle Schoen (jr., F, 6-1); Macklin Hawkins (jr., C, 6-3); Hunter Horton (jr., F, 6-0); Doug Everts (jr., G, 5-7); Brock Broadwater (so., G, 6-2).

Outlooks: "Our numbers are small, but the kids are working hard, and I think we're just going to have to avoid injuries and sickness," Gelvin said. "I like the attitude so far. We don't have one dominate player. I think our scoring is going to be spread around, and I kind of like it that way. I think our guard play should be the strong part of the team."

Notes: The Cardinals do not have a senior on the team ... Forbes Road lost in the District 5-Class A first round to Shanksville, 52-34 ... It was their lowest point total of the season ... Gelvin has 4 sophomore - Cordell Strait, Nick Keller, Grant Moore and J.J. Marks - who he expects to have a big impact on the varsity team.

Opener: Monday, at Berlin, 7:30.

Southern Fulton

Indians

Coach: Kent Hendershot, 20th year, 345-149 (.698).

Last year: 22-3 (13-1, won Sideling Hill League); won Inter-County Conference championship, 46-43, over Bellwood-Antis; lost District 5-A semifinals to Berlin, 49-45.

Starters lost: Seth Hall (P.O. First Team); Damon Gordon (P.O. First Team).

Returning starters: Nick Smartt (sr., G, 5-10, 15.2 ppg, P.O. Second Team); Jake Ashkettle (sr., C, 6-3, 6.2 ppg); Alex Seburn (sr., C, 6-3, 5.8 ppg).

Other top players: Brayden Litton (sr., G, 6-0); Brady Golden (jr., F, 6-1); Jordan Klingerman (jr., C, 6-4); Noah Smartt (sr., G, 5-9); Austin Mellott (jr., G, 5-9); Connor Litton (so., G, 6-0); Dristin Mellott (so. G, 5-8).

Outlooks: "Losing two of the better guards I've ever had is definitely a transition for us," Hendershot said. "Learning to play without them is a big adjustment, but we're working hard and we feel we've established a pretty good tradition here."

Notes: Southern Fulton is the only area Sideling Hill League team to lose 2 P.O. First Team All-Stars ... The Indians have not had a losing record since the 1997-98 season.

Opener: Friday, at home vs. Everett, 7:30.

Cumberland Valley

Christian Blazers

Coach: Mike Sanders, fourth year, 14-62 (.184).

Last year: 7-19 (1-13 Mason-Dixon Christian Conference).

Starters lost: Tanner Propst (P.O. Second Team); A.J. Dawson.

Returning starters: Josh Sanders (jr., G, 5-10, 13.5 ppg, P.O. honorable mention); Kody Kipe (jr., F, 6-0, 6.86 ppg).

Other top players: Darrin Baker (jr., F, 5-10); Harper Lee (sr., 6-0, G); Conner Chapman (so., C, 6-2); Jeremiah Graves (so., G, 5-8).

Outlooks: "I'd like to see them compete in every game," Mike Sanders said. "I think we have the potential to be very competitive in the league. Broadfording, New Life and Heritage are usually the top teams. Before we had gone into those situations where they've just manhandled us, but now I feel like we can compete, and we want the best outcome."

Notes: Junior Seth Heckman elected not to come out for basketball this year ... The Blazers have several upperclassmen, which coach Sanders expects to be a help in MDCC play ... Josh Sanders has the potential to hit the 1,000-point career mark this year.

Next game: Thursday, at home vs. New Life, 5.

Shalom Christian

Flames

Coach: Danley Shank, third year, 22-19 (.537).

Last year: 13-10 (9-5 Mason-Dixon Conference).

Starters lost: Aaron Witman.

Returning starters: Jeffrey McCracken (sr., G, 6-0, 12 ppg); Alex Crilley (sr., G, 5-10, 7.9 ppg); Matt Wenger (jr., F, 5-9); Quentin Clapper (jr., F, 5-10).

Other top players: Hunter Martin (so., G, 5-5); Levi Nicklas (so., G, 5-5).

Outlooks: "This year, there's a bigger freshman class, so the challenge this year has been getting a lot of the new guys used to playing in the program," Shank said. "It's different, but it's nice to have. So a goal that I have every year is to win a championship. Most of the strong teams are returning everybody from last year, but that's still always one of my goals. I think we can be one of those teams toward the end of the year. If we can pull off an upset or two, we can be right in the thick of things."

Notes: Of the 14 players on the Flames, 5 of them are freshmen ... McCracken is closing in on 1,000 career points.

Next game: Tuesday, at Heritage Academy, 7.

Mercersburg Academy

Blue Storm

Coach: Tim Crouch, first year.

Last year: 4-17 (0-5 Mid-Atlantic Prep League).

Returning starters: Patrick Ryan (sr., G/F, 6-5); Thomas Bacas (sr., C, 6-8).

Other top players: Dre Willis (sr., G, 6-1); Reggie Fuimano (sr., G, 6-1); Royce Jenoure (sr., G, 5-11); Will Walter (jr., G, 5-10); Mike Collins (jr., F, 6-7).

Outlooks: "We're one of the hardest playing teams, and we want to improve as the season goes along," Crouch said. "I think we have some strong seniors that will lead up up front."

Notes: The Blue Storm did not win a game in the MAPL last year, and although the league hasn't dropped off much, Crouch said he believes Mercersburg has gotten better ... The Blue Storm have some serious height with 4 of their 5 seniors standing at 6-plus feet.

Next game: Thursday, at Massanutten, 8.