BOYS HOOPS: Area teams try to return to greatness
Coach: Ray Staver, 24th year, 323-249 (.565)
Last year: 16-8 (10-2, Mid Penn Colonial Division champions), lost in a District 3 Class AAAA play-in game to Central Dauphin East
Starters lost: Bryce Hastings (P.O. First-Team), Nick Jacoby, Zaen Miller
Returning starters: Wade Mills (sr., 6-5, F, 13.8 ppg, P.O. First Team), Teagan Staver (sr., 6-4, F, 6.4 ppg., P.O. honorable mention)
Other top players: Shuntan Hickman (sr., 6-4, G, 3.3 ppg), Carter Van Scyoc (so., 6-2, G), Cody Gustafson (jr., 6-2, G),
Outlook: Ray Staver said, "We're excited about the season. It's never easy to repeat (a division championship), but we'd like to do it. We'd also like to get back in the playoffs, but we have a lot to do to accomplish that. We lost a lot, and not just kids that started, but we had some kids off the bench. We're a bit inexperienced at the guards, so how we do to some degree will depend on how some of our younger guys play."
Notes: Gustafson will run the point for the Hounds this season ... Mills was Ship's leading scorer a year ago ... In addition to Hastings, Jacoby and Miller, the Greyhounds graduated key bench players Emmitt Geiger (4.3 ppg) and Derek Lovett (2.6 ppg).
Season opener: Friday, vs. Gettysburg at Gettysburg Warrior Tip-Off Tournament, 7:30
Greencastle-Antrim Blue Devils
Coach: Gary Martin, sixth season, 72-46 (.610)
Last year: 8-14 (6-6 Mid Penn Colonial Division)
Starters lost: Josh Ehko
Returning starters: Casey Hoover (jr., PG, 6-1, 17.4 ppg, P.O. First Team), Sam Sprague (sr., G, 6-1, 9.8 ppg, P.O. Second Team), Bryan Gembe (so., F, 6-3, 8.8 ppg, P.O. honorable mention), Ian Gelsinger (so., F, 6-2, 2.8 ppg)
Other top players: Brandon Stuhler (so., G, 5-10), Matt Lutz (sr., C, 6-5), Bryson Robinson (so., F, 6-3), Ben Freeman (so., G, 6-2), Cameron Hileman (so., PG, 5-7)
Outlook: Martin said, "We have very lofty goals. This team is young in age, not in basketball ability. I really like what I see. They love to play. Practice is going so smoothly. As we sit back to see what we need to work on, we have a zone offense; we have a man offense. I feel like I have to add more because everything you can think of to throw at them, they already understand it."
Notes: Sprague missed the last six games of last season with a knee injury, but played football this fall ... The Blue Devils will be missing senior co-caption Spencer Meyers who is out with a broken left arm; he has returned to non-contact practice and could return as early as late December ... G-A is aiming to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in three years ... Stuhler started every JV game last season.
Season opener: Friday, in Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament, at James Buchanan vs. Waynesboro, 5:30 p.m.
James Buchanan Rockets
Coach: Larry Strawoet, 14th year, 143-171 (.455)
Last year: 9-13 (4-8 Mid Penn Colonial Division)
Starters lost: Shamar Pates, Aaron Nagy, Ryan Hissong
Returning starters: Ryan Hege (sr., F, 6-4, 8.9 ppg, P.O. Second Team), Zach Vosburg (sr., G/F, 5.2 ppg), Cody Tacker (sr., G), Hunter Sowers (so., F, 4.2 ppg), Gage Piper (sr., G, 4.6 ppg), Toby Sowers (sr., F, 5-2 ppg)
Other top players: Justin Helman (sr., G), Kyle Buchanan (sr., G/F), Jared Pine (jr., G), Hunter Reath (so., G), Rylan Wassil (jr., G)
Outlook: Strawoet said, "We really want to improve on last year's record. Overall, we're looking to take the next step and be competitive every game. We have a great group of young men; they represent us very well. I think we just want to continue to build our tradition back."
Notes: The Rockets have seven seniors on their roster ... They interchanged their starting lineup last season, and may do the same this year ... Although JB finished with a better overall record than three division teams, it was second-to-last in the league standings.
Season opener: Friday, in Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament, at home vs. Chambersburg, 8:30
Coach: Tom Hoffman, 16th year, 150-200 (.429)
Last year: 13-9 (7-5 Mid Penn Colonial Division)
Starters lost: Ryan Kelley (P.O. First Team), Connor Fetterhoff,Ethan Mohn, Ben Clemmer
Returning starters: Kyle Hoffman (jr., G, 5-7, 3.5 ppg), Cameron Keck (jr., G/F, 9.1 ppg)
Other top players: Dakota Rhyne (sr., F, 6-3), Mitch Neterer (jr., G, 5-11), Evan Hine (jr., F, 6-2), Ogo Akamelu (sr., F, 6-1)
Outlook: Hoffman said, "We are a little bit of a work in progress. Over the past two years, we've lost 12 seniors, so there's a little bit of inexperience going on now. We like them as a group, but we're trying to see how much depth we'll have and what that means as far as our style of ball. We've come up with an identity of how we like to play, but it takes a high energy and high effort to do that. You need bodies to make it work."
Notes: The Indians have 12 on their roster, after a season-ending injury to Brock Persons that was discovered during the preseason ... Waynesboro graduated six seniors from last year's team and six seniors the year before that.
Season opener: Friday, in Franklin County Tip-Off Tournament, at James Buchanan vs. Greencastle-Antrim, 5:30
Coach: Greg Best, 14th year, 119-186 (.390)
Last year: 3-19 (1-15 Sideling Hill League, 1-13 Inter-County Conference)
Starters lost: Hunter Kann
Returning starters: Mikell McGee (jr., G, 5-9, 21.6 ppg, P.O. First Team), Sawyer Rosenberry (sr., F, 6-0, 5.5 ppg), Layton Hoffmann (sr., G, 5-9, 4.5 ppg), Lucas Wingert (so., F, 6-0 7.4 ppg)
Other top players: Hunter Gibbons (sr., F, 6-4)
Outlook: Best said, "Our goal is to try to establish some stability in the league. We want to be competitive, and there are going to be some real good teams in the league. I look for us to improve. We have a lot of youth coming. McGee is going to have to be ready for everyone coming after him defensively, so we're going to have to have some younger players score and take some of that pressure off him."
Notes: McGee was the area's leading scorer a season ago; he is 209 points away from hitting 1,000 for his career ... Kann and Alec Ocker did not come out for the team ... Best said he has a trio of freshman that he expects to get a lot of playing time.
Season opener: Tuesday, at home vs. Belleville Mennonite, 7:30
Southern Fulton Indians
Coach: Kent Hendershot, 23rd season, 402-163 (.712)
Last year: 24-3 (16-0 Sideling Hill League, 14-0 Inter-County Conference); SHL champs and won ICC title, 65-57 over Bellwood-Antis; District 5 Class A runner-up; lost in first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs, 71-48, to Vincentian Academy.
Starters lost: Connor Litton (P.O. Player of the Year), Dristin Mellott
Returning starters: Dylan Gordon (jr., G, 6-4, 15.0 ppg, P.O. First Team), Trent Rider (sr., F, 6-4, 14.4 ppg, P.O. Second Team), Zach Clark (sr., G, 5-9, 6.7 ppg)
Other top players: Carl Potter (jr., PG, 6-0), Owen Hawkins (sr., G, 5-10), Branden Lynch (so., C, 6-5), Chase Varner (jr., G, 6-1), Logan Beatty (sr., G, 5-10), Mitch Potter (5-11, so., G), Austin Schriever (5-10, jr., G)
Outlook: Hendershot said, "We like our team. We like the potential that exists there. We have very nice size and quickness, and I'm really pleased with our depth. I feel we can go 10 deep pretty easily, and that should be a great advantage for us. We had a great run last year, and with hard work, this team could be equally as good."
Notes: Gordon is 324 points away from 1,000 for his career ... The Indians graduated Litton, who averaged a double-double last season ... Rider returns to the team after some uncertainty about focusing on solely on baseball; according to Hendershot, the coaches at College of Charleston, where Rider is committed to pitch, wanted him to play hoops.
Season opener: Tuesday, at home vs. Everett, 7:30
Coach: Dane Pollock, second year, 18-8 (.692)
Last year: 18-8 (11-5 Sideling Hill League, 10-4 Inter-County Conference); lost in the first round of the PIAA Class A playoffs to Portage, 49-47 in overtime.
Starters lost: Tyrelle White
Returning starters: Chase Novak (jr., PG, 6-2, 14.4 ppg, P.O. First Team), Jake Boehme (sr., G, 5-8, 8.7 ppg, P.O. honorable mention), Ryan Koontz (sr., F, 6-0), Landon Richards (sr., G, 5-11, 8.1 ppg), Quintin Miller (sr., F, 6-2, 4.4 ppg)
Other top players: Ian Cheatle (sr., G, 6-2, P.O. honorable mention, 10.9 ppg), Logan Little (sr., G, 5-7), Patrick Keefer (sr., G, 5-10), Nic Culler (jr., G, 5-6), Ethan Barclay (jr., F/G, 6-2), Chance Hawbaker (jr., F, 6-1), Shawn Garlock (sr., F, 6-0)
Outlook: Pollock said, "I think we picked up a lot of experience from last year. We seem a little more patient, and we're pretty confident. The guys have worked hard all summer; I was kind of worried with us having a good season that they would get overconfident and complacent, but they're still hungry. Our soccer guys are really hungry, and as a coach, that's exciting to see."
Notes: Pollock is the reigning P.O. Boys Basketball Coach of the Year ... Five of McConnellsburg's players were also on the boys soccer team that was upset in a District 5 Class A semifinal ... The Spartans boast eight seniors on their roster ... McConnellsburg was 11-0 to start the season last year.
Season opener: Wednesday, Dec. 9 at Chestnut Ridge, 7
Forbes Road Cardinals
Coach: Trent Black, first year
Last year: 4-16 (2-14 Sideling Hill, 2-12 Inter-County Conference)
Starters lost: Brock Broadwater, J.J. Martz, Nick Keller
Returning starters: Matt Brown (jr., F, 6-1, 8.6 ppg), Aaron Schepis (jr., PG, 5-10, 9.2 ppg)
Other top players: Brycen Hohman (so., G, 6-0), Michael Fleck (jr., C, 6-2), Owen Gilbert (jr., G, 6-0), Trey Kennedy (sr., G, 5-11), Bryce Ulsh (sr., 6-2, C), Grayson Hall (fr., 5-11, G), Talon Blair (so., 6-0, G), Jackson Chilcote (jr., 5-10, G), Logan Grubb (jr., 5-11, F)
Outlook: Black said, "Basically, we're looking for anything better than last year. I think we're going to be competitive. We've been working hard this off-season. We lost some height, but we have more of a bench this year. It's going to be a little tough, but hopefully we can be competitive. It's still a rebuilding year, but the guys know what we expect."
Notes: The Cardinals averaged more than 46 points per game last season, but had only Broadwater finish in double figures ... Black was the Cardinals' assistant coach a year ago and takes over for Randy Gelvin.
Season opener: Friday, at Chestnut Ridge, 7:30
Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers
Coach: Mike Sanders, seventh year, 49-105 (.318)
Last year: 8-21 (1-11 Mason-Dixon Christian Conference); lost in the first round of the MDCC Tournament to Heritage
Starters lost: Conner Chapman, Jeremiah Graves, Aaron McBeth
Returning starters: Spencer Propst (jr., 5-7, PG, 7.5 ppg), Aaron Johnson (jr., 6-0, F)
Other top players: Noah Eckert (sr., 6-4, C), Jesus Pena (so., 5-8, G, 3.3 ppg), Jackson Park (jr., 5-5, G), Christian Hott (sr., 5-8, F)
Outlook: Sanders said, "My goals are definitely to play really strong defense. I think we're going to be a little short-handed on offense. I lost some firepower with Jeremiah (16.5 ppg) and Conner (13.0), and we don't have a lot of guys beyond Spencer and Jesus to replace them. We have a lot of seniors on the team, but they won't all start."
Notes: CVC graduated Graves, who was the Blazers' leading scorer last year and who finished with 1,018 points in his career ... Hott came on strong at the end of last season after not playing the first 12 games of the year ... The Blazers have five seniors.
Season opener: Thursday at home vs. Broadfording, Friday at home vs. Shalom Christian, 8.
Shalom Christian Flames
Coach: Danley Shank, sixth year, 43-58 (.426)
Last year: 8-12 (5-7 Mason-Dixon Christian Conference); lost in the first round of the MDCC Tournament
Starters lost: Hunter Martin
Returning starters: Jonah Stains (jr., F, 15. 1 ppg, P.O. Second Team), Barrett Eshbaugh (sr., C), Cameron Roseman (so., G, 12.3 ppg, P.O. honorable mention), Micah Lehman (jr., F, 7.6 ppg), Chase Martin (jr., PG, 3.6 ppg)
Other top players: Josh Coldsmith (sr., F), Coby Roseman (jr., G), Connor Tiedemann (sr., F)
Josh Coldsmith (sr., F), Coby Roseman (jr., G),
Outlook: Shank said, "I thikn we have to build off of some of the progress that we made last year. With losing only two players to graduation, I really want to take another step forward and be more productive, both indivudally and as a team."
Notes: The Flames' only other senior last season was Sasha Martin ... Shalom won its first game of the season, 64-58 over Faith ... Stains was the leading scorer last year and got off to a great start this year with 35 points in Shalom's first game of the season.
Next game: Friday, at Cumberland Valley Christian, 8
Mercersburg Academy Blue Storm
Coach: Sean Crocker, first year
Last year: 3-14 (0-4 Mid-Atlantic Prep League, 0-3 Ind. Parochial School League)
Starters lost: Teddy Schoeck (P.O. First Team), Malik Miller, Nick Kelly
Returning starters: Elliott Hicks (sr., 6-4), Carlos Austin (jr., 6-0)
Other top players: Luka Sevaljevic (post-grad, 6-6), Eli Riley (so., 6-3), Miles Hearon (sr., 6-0), Daniel Bowes (jr., 6-2), Colin Adams (jr., 6-2), Jake Rist (post-grad, 6-3)
Outlook: Crocker said, "I want the guys to get better every day and build the culture. We took a huge step forward (earlier this week). Every day is a new day for us. We have the ability to be competiteive, but worrying about specific wins and losses can get guys ahead of themselves a bit. It's more about competing and growing as a team."
Notes: Crocker is implementing a system that does not have specific positions, which will allow him "to put the best five guys on the court and not really worry about defined positions" ... Mercersburg does not play its first home game until January 7 ... Sevaljevic is from Toronto ... The Blue Storm's average height is 6-foot-1.8 inches, but their tallest player is 6-6.
Season opener: Friday, at Randolph-Macon, 6