WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW
Coach: Mike Ludwig, fifth season.
Last year's record: 4-9 PAC-10, 6-16 overall.
Players to watch: Tyler Bauman, Sr., 6-3; Ryan Corcoran, Jr., 6-2; Kyle Dennin, Jr., 6-3; Kevin McAteer, Jr., 6-1; Colton Moyer, Jr., 6-6; Christian Smith, Jr., 5-10; Ben Longacre, So., 6-1.
Outlook: Chemistry and scoring balance should be a couple of main strengths of the Bears, according to Ludwig. "These guys have played together for about four years now; they're very committed to each other and you can see that when they play,' Ludwig said. "They play team basketball. And we have five or six kids that on any night can give you 10-to-15 points.' Corcoran, an All-Area honorable mention pick, averaged 8.8 points last year. Bauman is the team's lone senior. McAteer, transfer from Spring-Ford, should also have an impact along with fellow junior Kyle Dennin.
Coach: Ian Gendreau, second season.
Last year's record: 5-5 Berks Section 1, 10-13 overall.
Players to watch: Kenny Worthington, Sr., 6-1; Dan Downs, Sr., 6-4; Stephon Williams, Sr., 5-9; Steve Sievers, Sr., 6-1; Cedrick Mann, Sr., 6-5; Doug Schilling, Sr., 6-1; Lee Kelsey, Sr., 5-11; Keyon McCutchen, So., 6-2.
Outlook: Depth and athleticism appear to be the calling cards of the Blazers, who will be teed with a tough non-league schedule highlighted by PIAA-AAA power Berks Catholic. Worthington averaged a team-high 11.8 points per game and was an All-Area second team pick last year; second-leading scorer Pop Lacey (10.6) transferred to Berks Catholic. "We should go 10 deep on a nightly basis and have the ability to go small and quick or big and long,' Gendreau said. "The most important thing for us will be consistency. Last year we were up and down, particularly in non-league play, and if it happens again we will be in big trouble.'
Coach: Seth Eilberg, 13th season.
Last year's record: 0-7 MAPL, 8-15 overall.
Players to watch: Joe Pucci, Sr., 6-7.; John Carroll, Sr., 6-8; Matt Foltz, Sr., 6-7; Quin Butler, Sr., 6-6; Sam Norton, Jr., 6-1; James Fives, Jr., 6-6; Bryce Allen, So., 5-11.
Outlook: With six returners that started at least one game last year and some nice size in Foltz, Pucci, Carroll, Fives and Butler, the Blues should be a handful in the paint. Allen averaged a team-high 8.9 points last year. "We need to jell our strong returning nucleus with a talented group of newcomers,' Eilberg said. "We have a chance to be a good shooting team, so if we defend and rebound consistently, we have the potential to compete at a high level.'
Coach: Jeff Derstine, fourth season.
Last year's record: 13-0 PAC-10, 23-7 overall; Liberty Division champion, league runner-up, District 1-AAAA quarterfinalist, PIAA-AAAA qualifier.
Players to watch: Zach Jenkins, Sr., 6-5; Joe Ruhl, Sr., 5-8; Dillon Alderfer, Sr., 6-3; Justin Ardman, Jr., 6-3; Sean Mann, Jr., 6-1; Tom Dyer, Jr., 6-6; Chris McCarthy, Jr., 6-6; T.J. Tornetta, Jr., 6-2; Alex Kilgour, Jr., 6-2; Rich Dunham, So., 5-8.
Outlook: Warriors need to replace the graduated duo of All-Area Player of the Year Brendan Casper (19.9 ppg, 9 rpg) and Matt Forrest (11.7 ppg, 71 3-pointers), with forward Zach Jenkins (6.6 ppg) and the guard duo of Joe Ruhl (25 3-pointers) and Sean Mann (24 3-pointers) heading the list of returners. "Our players understand that every game in the PAC-10 will be a battle,' said Derstine, whose squad went unbeaten in Liberty Division play before falling 44-41 to Perkiomen Valley in the PAC-10 final. "They are excited about the challenge.'
Owen J. Roberts
Coach: Kevin Kirby, first season.
Last year's record: 2-11 PAC-10, 6-16 overall.
Players to watch: Matt Crider, Sr., 6-2; Sam Murphy, Sr., 6-3; Ben Condello, Sr., 5-11; Chris Patrick, Sr., 6-0; Brad Beard, Sr., 5-10; Ben Huzzard, Jr., 5-10; Morgan Bailey, Jr., 6-4; Ryan Michener, Jr., 6-2; Mitch Bradford, So., 5-8.
Outlook: Wildcats will feature Crider, an All-Area first team selection who lead the league in scoring at 21.2 last year, and have several other key seniors in forward Murphy (9.5 ppg), guard Condello, and center Patrick. Kirby, the OJR head coach for the 2010-11 season, returns to take over the squad. "Our goal is to make the district playoffs,' Kirby said. "This is a large and talented senior class that has been through a lot in their careers, and we are committed to doing everything we can to enable them to experience playoff basketball.'
Coach: Mark Longstreth, fifth season.
Last year's record: 8-1 Tri-County League, 15-7 overall: Tri-County league finalist.
Players to watch: Tony Coleman, Sr., 5-10; Yu Sun, Sr., 6-9; Justas Valciukas, Sr., 6-4; Chandler Junk, Sr., 6-0; Efraim Rodriguez, Jr., 6-2; Pauilus Zalys, Jr., 6-6; Ja'ren Hampton, So., 6-5.
Outlook: Panthers reached the TCL final before falling to Phelps last year, and appear to again be a strong league contender. Valciukas averaged a team-high 13.1 points last year, while the rotation should be bolstered by the addition of Upper Perkiomen transfer Chandler Junk, an All-Area honorable mention selection who averaged 12.1 ppg last year. Hampton (9.3 ppg) also provides scoring punch. "We have a lot of balance,' Longstreth said. "Last year, a couple guys had to carry the load at both ends of the floor, but this year we have a number of players who are ready to make big contributions at both ends.'
Coach: Mike Poysden, second season.
Last year's record: 9-4 PAC-10, 17-8 overall; league champion, District 1-AAAA qualifier.
Players to watch: Purnell Wilson, Sr., 5-11; Rasaan Stewart, Sr., 6-0; Mekhi Clemons, Sr., 6-1; Tom Patterson, Sr., 5-11; Dan Light, Sr., 6-0; Tyler Kane, Sr., 6-2; Tyler Krause, Jr., 6-2; Mike Formica, Jr., 6-0.
Outlook: After rallying from a 2-6 start to bring home the PAC-10 title last year, the Vikings appear to have all the ingredients to remain a top-tier squad. They have a slick point guard in Wilson (an All-Area first-team pick who averaged 12.7 points per game last year), another scoring presence in Clemons (8.9 ppg last year) and perhaps the league's top defender in Stewart (an All-Area honorable mention selection). "We had a very productive offseason with a strong commitment by our players to improve,' said Poysden, last year's All-Area Coach of the Year. "We are striving to build off the momentum from last year as players are now in the second year of playing within our system.'
Coach: Randy Reber, fourth season (30th overall).
Last year's record: 8-5 PAC-10, 11-13 overall; PAC-10 semifinalist.
Players to watch: Eric Wallace, Sr., 6-2; Cole Luzins, Sr., 6-2; TreShawn Rebalsky, Sr., 6-4; Billy Kedra, Sr., 6-2; Matt O'Hare, Sr., 6-0; James Jackson, Sr., 6-0; DeAndre Gadsden, Jr., 6-0; Mike Anthony, Jr., 6-1; Marquise McDuffie So., 5-10; Christian Kelly, So., 6-2; Ryan Mia, So., 6-2; Jeff Conboy, So., 6-4; Isaiah Johnson, So., 5-9.
Outlook: The Phantoms picked up four players via transfer: Rebalsky (Conestoga), Kedra (Phelps School), O'Hare (St. Joseph's Prep) and McDuffie (Church Farm School). Wallace (9.5 ppg) and Gadsden (8.5) were All-Area honorable mention selections last year. "We have a challenge in the process of putting all these pieces together,' Reber said. "They all bring some really good things. We happy with the progress we're making. We think we can be a competitive team.'
Pope John Paul II
Coach: Jack Flanagan, fourth season.
Last year's record: 9-4 PAC-10, 16-11 overall; District 1-AAA finalist, PIAA-AAA second-round qualifier.
Players to watch: James Bleming, Sr., 6-0; Tim Tadros, Sr., 6-2; Rosario Peloro, Sr., 5-10; Paul Taglialatela, Sr., 6-2; Patrick Vasas, Sr., 6-4; James McKeln, 6-5, Sr.; Michael Cianciulli, Jr., 5-11; Matt Mesaros, Jr., 6-2.
Outlook: The three-time defending Frontier Division champion Golden Panthers have to replace a couple of key graduated cogs in the potent combo of Jamel Stinson (15.1 ppg) and Brent Mahoney (14.8), but guard James Bleming (an All-Area honorable mention pick last year) will be a focal point of what Flangan expects to be a workmanlike attack. "Right now we're at the point with this group where we're trying to get better every day,' Flanagan said. "We're going to focus on the aspects of the game that every team needs to focus on: defense, rebounding and taking care of the basketball.'
Coach: Scott Palladino, eighth season.
Last year's record: 5-8 PAC-10, 6-16 overall.
Players to watch: Ryan Klotz, Sr., 6-6; Marshon Rose, Sr., 6-5; Mike Graves, Sr., 6-2; Tyrone Parker, Sr., 6-2; Marquis Barefield, Sr., 5-9; Jermon Jeffers, Sr., 5-7; Jaden Wade, Jr., 5-8; Tyler Hibbs, Jr., 6-2; Mike Fowler, Jr., 6-0; Anthony Hedgepeth, Jr., 6-3; Nazir Goldston, So., 6-0; Deyon Doctor, So., 6-2; Louie Gibbs, So., 5-9.
Outlook: Falcons could be in position to bounce back in a big way, with three-year starter Fowler (8.2 ppg), 3-point threat Graves, the 6-foot-6 Klotz, the cat-quick Barefield and newcomer Jaden Wade (a transfer from Cheltenham) providing a solid nucleus. Fowler, Barefield and Parker were all starters on the Falcons' PAC-10 championship football team. "We have a very deep team and our looking to play 10 or 11 guys on any given night,' Palladino said. "We have had a very busy and successful offseason, and we are looking to keep the momentum rolling.'
Coach: Cal Benfield, second season.
Last year's record: 7-6 PAC-10, 10-12 overall.
Players to watch: Denzel Harvey, Sr., 6-0; Dave Smalls, Sr., 5-4; Bryant Quill, Jr., 6-2; Rich Duvivier, Jr., 5-10; Jayce Beasley, Jr., 6-2.
Outlook: Harvey, an All-Area second-team selection, averaged 11.7 points per game last year. Quill, who averaged 7.2 points per game, is the lone other key player back for the Trojans. "We have good speed,' Benfield said. "Denzel is very explosive and Rich is very offense-minded. We can score points, but we need to make sure we play within the system and play together. We're going to have to mature quickly; our inexperienced players are going to have to become experienced quickly. And just like every other team, we're going to have to defend. If we don't defend, we won't win.'
Coach: Chris Talley, first season.
Last year's record: 8-5 PAC-10, 14-9 overall; District 1-AAAA qualifier.
Players to watch: Drew Kakareka, Sr., 5-10; Nick Stanek, Sr., 6-4; Ryan Cass, Sr., 5-10; Noah Collins, Sr., 5-8; Alex Epps-Ortiz, Sr., 6-5; Brandon Blackburn, Sr., 6-1; Josh Tupper, Sr., 6-0; Matt Foley, Sr., 6-0; Gary Hopkins, Sr., 6-4.
Outlook: With Spring-Ford alum Talley taking the reins after a two-year stint at Owen J. Roberts, the Rams will have a senior-oriented squad led by point guard Kakareka (7.5 ppg, 3.0 apg) and forward Stanek (8.8 ppg), who was an All-Area honorable mention pick a year ago. "Our strengths include depth, experience and leadership,' Talley said. "Our seniors have been battle-tested, which will help the younger guys continue to grow as student athletes.'
Coach: Jared Krupp, first season.
Last year's record: 0-13 PAC-10, 4-18 overall.
Players to watch: Michael Winters, Sr., 6-5; Josh Wynder, Sr., 5-11; Matt Ruskey, Jr., 5-9; Nathan Weistein, Jr., 6-2; Josh Pickens, Jr., 5-9; Isiah Stokes, Jr., 6-2; Christian Zera, So., 6-3.
Outlook: Krupp, a junior high coach at Upper Perkiomen for the past four seasons, succeeds Bruce Schmidt. "This year we look to improve upon last year's record and become a more competitive Upper Perk team. We believe with the work and effort that we have put in during the offseason, and our commitment to playing hard-working, selfless basketball, we will see more success than in previous years.'
West-Mont Christian Academy
Coach: Tony Robinson, fifth season.
Last year's record: 3-6 Tri-County League, 5-16 overall.
Players to watch: Justin Fredericks, Sr.; Jeffrey McDermott, Sr.; Nate Yeoman Sr.; Max Davis, Jr.; Daniel Mayk, So.; Kyle Stroble, Fr.; Devon Jackson, Fr.; Xiao Ywang, Fr.
Outlook: Wings are hoping to improve on last year's mark. Team has improved depth, but must replace the scoring, leadership and rebounding of graduated seniors Pat Flynn and James McLeod.
— Compiled by DARRYL GRUMLING