Things are looking up in Annville in more ways than one - coach Chris Bradford has some high expectations for this year's boys basketball team.
A-C has a pair of big men returning in Isaac Burris and Nate Myers, and lots of depth, but it’s possibly what Burris, Myers, and others have accomplished this season on the football field that has given the Dutchmen the extra shot in the arm.
Bradford said, “Some of those football guys coming in, capturing a piece of that section title, coming into basketball now is like, ‘Why can’t we do it, too?’ This group now wants to go out and get things they think they deserve because they’ve worked for it.”
Additionally, a transfer, Deshaun Archer, came in from Central York. Archer, a sophomore, is expected to also contribute after learning the role Bradford wants him to fill along with the rest of the team.
“Right now we’re looking at a seven- or eight-man rotation with guys in defined roles," Bradford said. “What we’ve been trying to do is adjust to a different way of playing offensively throughout the offseason. I think we came in the first day of practice comfortable in what exactly those roles were and from there every practice is just putting the next piece into it.”
Annville-Cleona is going to need to hit the ground running in the newly aligned Section 3 that includes perennial powerhouses Lancaster Catholic and Lancaster Mennonite, as well as county rivals Lebanon Catholic, and new members Elco and Northern Lebanon.
After wins over Lebanon Catholic and a narrow, early season, five-point loss to Northern Lebanon, it’s relatively easy to see why Bradford is anxious to have six county games as opposed to just four.
“We have Elco and Northern Lebanon now on the schedule twice, so we can try and define who is Lebanon County’s best first and then if we’re doing that, the section will take care of itself and the district will take care of itself,” he said.
With just 13 teams in the new Class 3A for District 3, Annville-Cleona will rely on its strength of schedule against the larger schools, and six potential wins against fellow section foes Pequea Valley, Lancaster Mennonite and Columbia.
If they are going to make a run at the section and into the postseason, the Dutchmen need to improve defensively, even though they were top five or six in the league last year in points allowed per game, according to Bradford.
“A couple of games obviously skewered that against our favor, but I mean we have size inside and toughness on defense,” he said. “How far we go is going to be dictated by what we accomplish defensively and I think we’ve taken a couple of steps this offseason to kind of try to rectify what we were weak at last year.”
The Little Dutchmen will see how they stack up against district competition right out of the gate as they travel to Hamburg to face fellow Class 3A opponent Brandywine Heights in the Hawk Tip-Off Tournament.
Coach: Chris Bradford, 4th season
Last year: 6-16 (4-12)
Returning players: Isaac Burris (sr., C), Donald Friday (jr., G), Noah Myers (jr., C/PF)
Other top players: Cameron Hoch (sr., F), Cole Waldhausen (sr., G)
Season opener: Friday at Hamburg Tip-Off Tournament vs. Brandywine Heights.