Montgomery County boys basketball preview -- Gazette.Net


Avalon Black Knights

Coach: Kevin Davern, 1st year

Last season's record: 12-12

Returning starters: Two

Last state tournament appearance: N/A

Former junior varsity coach Kevin Davern replaced longtime coach Rich McPherson on the bench for the Black Knights. Senior guards Tracy Johnson and Emmet Johnson return to as starters.

Several requests for information for this preview to Avalon representatives were not returned.

— Compiled from staff reports

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Barons

Coach: Sean Tracy, 1st year

Last season's record: 12-10

Returning starters: None

Last state tournament appearance: 2008

On one hand, B-CC lost all five starters. On the other, it shouldn't matter as much considering the Barons are running a new system under first-year coach Sean Tracy.

Preseason injuries have slowed B-CC a bit, but once healthy, the Barons have a lot of tools to build upon.

Senior guard Eric Tschiderer and junior guard Jared Stape are joined by dynamic 6-foot-4 freshman forward Matthew Schaengold, who Tracy said plays well above his age.

“He's one of the most fundamentally sound [players on the team]. He's one of those guys whose positive attitude and work ethic is really contagious,” Tracy said of the freshman starter.

The Barons can do a bit of everything, Tracy added, but the focus early will be on putting a bunch of individually talented pieces together.

— Jennifer Beekman

James H. Blake

Coach: Marcus Wiggins, 7th year (96-43)

Last season's record: 18-6

Returning starters: One

Last state tournament appearance: 2010

Point guard Breon Herbert, Blake's lone returning starter, will miss the beginning of the season while he recovers from an ankle injury suffered during football season. Though Herbert played football through the injury, Wiggins wants him to rest until he's completely healed. Guard A.J. Butts is the highest-scoring returner, and guard Deshante Brown is the primary post defender in Blake's five-guard lineup. Demonte Ojinnaka and Tavon Ngangum, both of whom played junior varsity last season, will move into the starting lineup, and Ngangum will play point guard until Herbert returns. Stefan Sigwalt is one of eight returning seniors, and with no stars on the team, Wiggins expects 10 different players will start this season as Blake aims to best its second-round appearance of a year ago.

— Dan Feldman

Bullis Bulldogs

Coach: Bruce Kelley, 9th year (142-76)

Last season's record: 24-3

Returning starters: Three

Last IAC title: 2012

The reigning Interstate Athletic Conference champions look poised for another title run behind a strong core of returning players and two talented newcomers.

Anthony Thompson, a College of Holy Cross (Mass.) recruit, is a veteran point guard who is equally adept at scoring and setting up teammates for easy buckets. A.J. Metz and Winton Lyles are 6-foot-6 forwards. Russell Sangster is a physical defender and Aaron Briggs can fill it up from the outside.

Joining those veterans are 6-foot-10 junior center Andre Walker, who sat out last year after transferring from Clarksburg, and 6-foot-1 guard Jamaal Greenwood, who comes via Georgetown Prep.

“We have a veteran team [but] we lost a ton of scoring from a year ago,” Bullis coach Bruce Kelley said.

— James PetersMontgomery Blair Blazers

Coach: Damon Pigrom, 2nd year (7-16)

Last season's record: 7-16

Returning starters: Two

Last state tournament appearance: 1979

Despite losing a slew of graduates and promoting a passel of junior varsity veterans in their place, Pigrom feels this year's team is ahead of last year's at the same point. Why? Because even the former JV players are familiar with what Pigrom wants. “The philosophy and the terminology stayed the same,” Pigrom said. “Last year, I spent a lot of time with the JV team. … They run the same stuff we do, and that makes the transition pretty easy.” Transition is always a key to Pigrom's up-tempo, pressing teams. Pigrom took 4A East Division rival Blake to within seconds of a state title with that style and feels that, despite their youth, these Blazers have the right components to run it.

— John Y. Wehmueller

Winston Churchill Bulldogs

Coach: Matthew Miller, 5th year (61-35)

Last season's record: 19-6

Returning starters: One

Last state tournament appearance: 1978

They say patience is a virtue. And Churchill is depending on that.

After graduating four starters from a senior-laden squad, Churchill will endure some growing pains early, fifth-year coach Matthew Miller said.

The Bulldogs do, however, have the talent to remain competitive in the Class 4A West Region, he added.

“I think we are going to be a lot better in late January,” Miller said.

While young, Churchill has depth at every position and is probably more athletic, overall, than in recent history.

Three-year varsity guard and 6-foot-1 Bryant Wheatley will lead the way and is joined by talented juniors Malik Harris, Allen Njunbe and Matthew Moshyeei.

“It's going to be tough to scout us because a lot of guys are going to contribute. I think we're going to have a bunch of differnet scorers,” Miller said.

— Jennifer Beekman

Clarksburg Coyotes

Coach: G.J. Kissal, 1st year

Last season's record: 13-10

Returning starters: Two

Last state tournament appearance: None

After five years molding Rockville's program in his image, Kissal is starting again at Clarksburg. In Dennis Singleton and Josh Hardy, both juniors, he welcomes back the top two scorers from last year's team and an athletic young supporting cast. But change is afoot; expect higher scoring Coyotes games than in years past. Kissal wants the offense to run (“we'll score the ball more”) and the defense to show more man-to-man and trapping looks (“I'm not a big fan of zone”). A transitional period is likely, but this team has potential. “It might be in January, it might be in February, it might be next summer,” Kissal said. “But at some point in the next two years, it's going to click.”

— John Y. Wehmueller

Damascus Swarmin' Hornets

Coach: Butch Marshall, 3rd year

Last season's record: 9-15

Returning starters: Five

Last state tournament appearance: None

Unlike previous years, the Hornets football athletes who also play basketball have spent a little more time in preseason camp after being eliminated early in the Class 3A playoffs. “We're much further along this year than in previous years,” said coach Butch Marshall. “Usually a lot of the kids go deep into the football playoffs, and we have to catch up once they get here.”

Marshall expects senior Good Counsel transfer Stefan Jacobs to play a prominent role in the backcourt. “I think he'll give us the scoring we've missed in the past,” Marshall said. Marshall also noted his team will have to take a team approach to rebounding, as Jake Rogers is his tallest player on the team at 6-foot-3.

— John Harris IIIAlbert Einstein Titans

Coach: Rich Porac, 2nd year (2-21)

Last season's record: 2-21

Returning starters: Two

Last state tournament appearance: 1999

Guard/forward Josh Ogburn led Einstein with 16 points and four assists per game last season, earning all-division first team honors. As a senior, he'll look to build on that effort and draw offers from the Division II and Division III schools that are recruiting him. Einstein's other returning starter, forward Peter Belony, averaged six points and five rebounds per game last year and can serve as a defensive specialist. Even beyond Ogburn and Belony, both 6-foot-3, Einstein has plenty of size, including four players at least 6-foot-4: 6-foot-4 Teddy Kassa, 6-foot-5 Abraham Camara, 6-foot-5 Gil Reynolds and 6-foot-6 Joseph Bradshaw. Porac simplified Einstein's schemes during the summer, and he's hoping it will result in improvement this season, but the team is still fairly young.

— Dan Feldman

Gaithersburg Trojans

Coach: Kevin Parrish, 9th year (69-118)

Last season's record: 10-15

Returning starters: 2

Last state tournament appearance: 1998

The core of this team has been through a lot together. For one thing, three of them are brothers: guards Mateen (senior), Dion (junior), and Tyrik (sophomore) Etheridge. For another, most of the likely contributors rode the rollercoaster that was Gaithersburg's 2011-12 season: from an 0-6 start to a seven-game winning streak that did not end until the 4A West Region semifinal at Churchill. “Those kids have seen what it takes,” Parrish said. “It's paid dividends already. If somebody's not doing what they're supposed to in practice, Mateen's saying, 'I'm not going through another 0-6 start.'” J.P. Herbert and the Etheridge brothers will lead a guard-reliant attack while raw post players like 6-foot-7 junior Zach Coleman and 6-4 sophomore Kamonte Carter settle in.

— John Y. WehmuellerGeorgetown Prep Little Hoyas

Coach: Herb Krusen, 3rd year (25-28)

Last season's record: 14-13

Returning starters: Three

Last IAC title: 2006

The Little Hoyas shook off a 4-6 regular season league mark to reach the finals of the Interstate Athletic Conference tournament before falling to Bullis. With a talented backcourt of Alex Fabian-Scotch and Billah Abdul-Jalaal and a quality big man in Michael Wolfe, Georgetown Prep looks poised to challenge for a league crown.

Wolfe, a 6-foot-9 senior center, has already committed to Loyola University. Georgetown Prep coach Herb Krusen said Wolfe “gives us good size, scoring, and rebounding in the front court” and that “we have outstanding leadership at the guard position, with Fabian-Scotch and Abdul-Jalaal leading the backcourt.”

In preparation for IAC competition, the Little Hoyas will play an ambitious non-conference schedule that includes Gonzaga (D.C.) and McNamara.

— James Peters

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Coach: Blair Mills, 4th year

Last season's record: 10-20

Returning starters: Three

Last WCAC title: None

With another year under their collective belt, the once youthful Falcons hope to climb into the upper echelon of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference this winter, especially with a talented backcourt that includes All-WCAC selection Byron Hawkins and Tre Thomas, who have each garnered numerous collegiate looks.

“We've got some pieces; we've got to continuously put it together,” said Mills, whose team also welcomes back Andrew Calomeris and part-time varsity player Shane Eberle, a 6-foot-10 junior center. “We have a lot of different guard combinations [and] we've got leadership back. We'll be more competitive.”

Helping the Falcons to be just that are 5-10 freshman guard Anthony Cowan, a highly touted newcomer, as well as junior varsity call-ups Kenny Wormley and 6-foot-5 forward J.P. Boyle.

— James Peters

Walter Johnson Wildcats

Coach: Mark Karver, 2nd year (11-9)

Last season's record: 11-9

Returning starters: One

Last state tournament appearance: 1987

Despite returning only one starter, 6-foot-5 shooting guard Michael Lumbuku (nine points per game in 2011-12), second-year coach Mark Karver said the Wildcats have their sights set on improving upon last year's fourth-place finish in the Class 4A West Region.

The defending Montgomery 4A South runner-up will be propelled by size and sheer athleticism.

Though there will be four new names in the starting lineup, Karver said these players are not strangers to his system.

Lumbuku will be joined on the perimeter by Everett Wells, who also boasts an effective mid-range game, Karver said.

Sean Poosson (6-foot-4) will man the post and be an important factor as the Wildcats try to establish an inside game.

“I think this team can take advantage of a lot of individual strength,” Karver said.

— Jennifer Beekman

John F. Kennedy Cavaliers

Coach: Diallo Nelson, 13th year (160-123)

Last season's record: 9-14

Returning starters: Four

Last state tournament appearance: 1996

Point guard Marcus Murray is one of only two All-Gazette first team or second team players to return this season, along with Magruder point guard J.J. Epps. Murray averaged 19 points, five assists and four rebounds per game last year, but the 5-foot-8 senior is still waiting for his first college offer. Lawrence Feldman (10 points and four rebounds per game), Kief Williams (seven points and three rebounds per game) and David Singleton (six points and six rebounds per game) also return as starters. Bolstered by the 6-foot-5 Feldman inside, this team has more size than a typical Kennedy squad. Despite losing to Gaithersburg in the first round last season, Nelson believes this year's team has the potential to compete in the 4A West playoffs.

— Dan FeldmanLandon Bears

Coach: Andy Luther, 7th year (89-57)

Last season's record: 14-11

Returning starters: Two

Last IAC title: 2010

Graduation has not been kind to the Bears in recent years with the loss of All-Gazette first team guard Joe McDonald (22.8 ppg, 10.9 rpg) this past spring and University of Virginia forward Darion Atkins (12.2 ppg, 12 rpg, 7.3 bpg at Landon as a senior) two years ago.

Those two players helped Landon capture back-to-back Interstate Athletic Conference crowns during the 2008-09 and 2009-2010 seasons. To return to those winning ways, the Bears will have to rely on a veteran senior class that includes guards Isaiah Colclough and Jordan Marshall and Sebastian Wells, who is a 6-foot-6 center.

Luther said that experience is the team's strengths, but the lack of a defined scoring leader and go-to type of player are the team's weaknesses.

—James Peters

Col. Zadok Magruder Colonels

Coach: Dan Harwood, 23rd year (380-154)

Last season's record: 26-1

Returning starters: Three

Last state tournament appearance: 2012

The Colonels enter the 2012-13 season as the prohibitive favorite to defend their Class 4A West Region title. But the task of repeating as state champion may prove to be slightly more difficult due to a lack of size on the interior.

Veteran coach Dan Harwood traditionally finds success on offense by utilizing 3-point shots and this season should be no different. Four-year starting guards J.J. Epps, who may miss the first part of the season due to a knee injury, and Nick Griffin, a George Washington University recruit, combine to form arguably the best backcourt in the state. Forward Justin Witmer will likely take on an expanded scoring role as the Colonels strength will be on the perimeter. Brian Coleman (6-foot-4) takes over as the team's primary post threat.— Kent ZakourRichard Montgomery Rockets

Coach: David Breslaw, 1st year

Last season's record: 10-14

Returning starters: G-F Justin Senou, C-F Tory Sharps, G-F Houssan Hakim

Last state tournament appearance: 1966

First-year coach David Breslaw is charged with figuring out the five players most suited to start, along with the top reserves he will make available as well. “I know Justin [Senou], Tory [Sharps] and Houssan [Hakim] will start, the rest of the positions are wide open,” Breslaw said. “No one is locked in for playing time. And that's not a bad thing at all. You never know who will step up to get that time. I think it helps everyone compete that much harder.”

The Rockets have no fewer than a half-dozen candidates to fill in the two starting slots available, including speedy junior point guard P.J. Glasser and first year swingman Dimitri Dimes, whose basketball knowledge is “through the roof,” according to Breslaw.

— John Harris III

Montrose Christian Mustangs

Coach: Stu Vetter, 14th year (302-42)

Last season's record: 21-3

Returning starters: One

League affiliation: Independent

Once again, the Mustangs graduated a bevy of Division I college basketball talent, but yet again, this year's squad is ranked among the best in the nation with the return of Baylor University signee Ishmael Wainwright, a 6-foot-6 forward, and 6-foot-7 forward Therence Mayimba plus the usual influx of talented newcomers.

Among those new Mustangs is 6-foot-7 senior forward Jordan Swopshire, who is a shooting swingman from Missouri, as well as junior varsity call-up Justin Robinson, a 6-foot guard, and 6-foot-8 senior forward Mark Williams, who transferred from Cleveland Benedictine. Adam Pickett, a 6-foot-1 guard from Virginia, should also be a key contributor.

Montrose, ranked 13th in the USA Today, will play in the Iolani Classic and face Oak Hill (Va.) in January.

— James PetersNorthwest Jaguars

Coach: Usman Jamil, 2nd year (11-12)

Last season's record: 11-12

Returning starters: One

Last state tournament appearance: None

The Jaguars hope to improve on last season's 11-12 record and first round playoff exit, but they return just four players and one starter - guard Elliot Gambrell averaged 11 points per game last winter - so second-year coach Usman Jamil will likely have to break in several new players into the rotation early in the season.

Jamil, who hopes his team will play “aggressive and quick,” kept five sophomores on the varsity roster and expects sophomore point guard Jamar Wilson, who transferred from Dunbar (D.C.) High School, to contribute immediately.

“We are working hard to get better each day,” said Jamil, who was Northwest's junior varsity coach for three years prior to last year.

— Kent Zakour

Northwood Gladiators

Coach: Tony Dickens, 7th year

Last season's record: 4-18

Returning starters: One

Last state tournament appearance: 1975 (2nd)

Preview: Tony Dickens has been the head boys basketball coach at Northwood for all but 1 year since the school reopened. He's had the same preseason formula every time: scrimmage the best competition he can find, and hope his charges get used to playing at that level. This year's preseason slate included Eastern High (D.C.) and Class 3A state runner-up Thomas Stone. “They've got to figure out what it's about,” Dickens said. “We're not playing Eastern and Thomas Stone every night, but our division's pretty competitive.” Sean Vanduring is the only returning full-time starter, but the Gladiators return plenty of veteran presence, including junior point guard Justin Thomas, a late-season junior varsity call-up who started at the end of last year.

— John Y. Wehmueller

Paint Branch Panthers

Coach: Walter Hardy, 15th year (226-114)

Last season's record: 17-8

Returning starters: Four

Last state tournament appearance: 2000

Guards Jordan Radway (11.6 points per game last season) and Tristan Toliver (eight points, 2.6 assists and two steals per game) and forwards Justin Hackley (nine points and 6.5 rebounds per game) and Tre Galloway (seven points per game), all seniors, return as starters from a team that lost by three points to Springbrook in the region semifinals. Center John Onukaogu impressed in the preseason, and Hardy said the senior “could be an inside force.” Senior guard Desmond Harris is Paint Branch's sixth man, and 6-foot-4 juniors Doug Gardner and Armando Nwizu and senior Dom Ortiz also provide depth off the bench. With so much talent, even considering the departure of All-Gazette honorable-mention Christian Roberts, Hardy expects the team to improve from last season.

— Dan FeldmanPoolesville Falcons

Coach: Kenny Kramek, 1st year

Last season's record: 13-10

Returning starters: Three

Last state tournament appearance: 1963

Outlook: Kramek expects his lineup to be guard oriented this season, with juniors Anthony Papagjika and Andy Baker leading the way. “We're young, but we have some guys who have been on varsity for three years now, so they are experienced,” Kramek said. “We shoot pretty well, so if we can rebound, I think we will be very competitive.” The rookie coach will be counting the days to receive some rebounding help in form of 6-foot-9 senior Thomas Wols, who injured his Achilles in the offseason. “We hope to have him back by Christmas,” said Kramek. First year senior guard Collin Turner, junior varsity call up Trevor Stottlemyer, senior guard Kirby Carmack and sophomore forward Jon Bateky should see plenty of court time.

— John Harris III

Quince Orchard Cougars

Coach: Paul Foringer, 12th year (149-110)

Last season's record: 7-15

Returning starters: Two

Last state tournament appearance: 2000

After an uncharacteristic losing season last winter, the Cougars should be much improved this year.

“There's a better attitude with this group,” coach Paul Foringer said. “They like each other. … We have something to prove.”

Foringer has a relatively short team, but a deep bench at his disposal.

“We are an up-tempo team that likes to trap and press a lot,” he said. “We will bring five guys in, take them out and bring another five in.”

Senior guards Charles Porter and Eric Hoadley are expected to lead the way until a group of football players get into basketball shape. Forwards Tobin Pagley, Andrew Ankrah, who has not played high school basketball, and Bailey Avissar were all were members of the Cougars' state runner-up football team and are all expected to eventually be key contributors on the court.

— Kent Zakour

Rockville Rams

Coach: Steve Watson, 1st year

Last season's record: 10-14

Returning starters: Two

Last state tournament appearance: 1982

The Rams will see if they are able to compete with a roster full of veterans, including two starters from last season. Rockville looks like a formidable bunch size-wise, as it's 12-man roster features five players at least 6-foot-3, including 6-foot-7 junior center Jacob Griffiths-Randolph. Others include 6-foot-4 senior forwards Ivan Mobley and Andrew Perry, and juniors Nnamdi Osakwe (6-3, forward) and G Brian Ball (6-4). “Our team will be young this year but we have a decent amount of experience returning,” said Watson. “I hope to be a competitive team in our division and our region.”

Senior guards Anthony Ellis and Nehemiah Jackson are the only set starters at this juncture. Guards Jeff Byrd, Peter Hailey and are back this season, as well as junior forward Brad Ball.

— John Harris III

Saint Andrew's Episcopal Lions

Coach: Kevin Jones, 2nd year (9-16)

Last season's record: 9-16

Returning starters: Three

Last Mid-Atlantic Conference title: None

Under the direction of second-year coach Kevin Jones, the Lions, which won the Montgomery County Recreation Department's high school summer league championship, are expected to take another step forward this winter.

Guards Marcus Adkinson and Cedric McFadden could form one of the county's best backcourts and are expected to be the focal point of the team along with senior forward Jonny Consor.

“Everyone is invested and we are improved from last year,” said Jones, who took over last year after spending a couple of years as an assistant at Winston Churchill. “We had a good offseason and good momentum by winning [summer league] entering the fall. … We are taking steps forward. This is a long-term thing. “

St. Andrew's season has already underway. The Lions were 2-1 as of Monday.

— Kent ZakourSeneca Valley Screaming Eagles

Coach: Tony Harrison, 1st year

Last season's record: 13-10

Returning starters: None

Last state tournament appearance: 2009

There's lots of newness with the Screamin' Eagles boys basketball program. Just one player returns from last year's varsity, junior guard Jhames Ngonda, and the coach is also in his rookie year with the program. At the moment, coach Tony Harrison wants to continue to build his team to the point of being able to creep up on a few opponents. “This year, we'll be happy to be able to surprise a couple of teams, because we come into this season with low expectations,” Harrison said.

Harrison does like his teams overall athleticism and speed, and is optimistic about a few players on the squad, including junior swingman Keion Adams, a transfer from Atlanta, Ga., senior guard Chinedu Nwachukwu and freshman forward Alex Choloh.

— John Harris III

Sherwood Warriors

Coach: Dondrell Whitmore, 7th year (88-64)

Last season's record: 19-8

Returning starters: Three

Last state tournament appearance: 2012

Sherwood fell just short of advancing to the 4A state title game last season, but the Warriors could be a much better team this winter. And coach Dondrell Whitmore hopes his team “can finish it off” this winter.

Leading scorers Scott Bolen and Charlie Rogers graduated, but three transfers should mitigate the scoring void. Six-foot-8 junior forward Ellis Dozier transferred from DeMatha along with senior guard Daryl Brown (Watkins Mill) and Alec Wheeler (St. James).

Forward Ryan Bailey, Devin Gallagher and Brandon Loiacono all return and are expected to play significant roles.

“I feel like I lost a lot, but gained more,” Whitmore said. “I actually think we are a better team than last year. Ten to 12 guys are going to play.”

— Kent ZakourSpringbrook Blue Devils

Coach: Thomas Crowell, 8th year (157-20)

Last season's record: 21-4

Returning starters: One

Last state tournament appearance: 2010

Speedy senior point guard Tomazye Anderson is the only returning starter from a team that lost last season only to 4A state semifinalists (Sherwood twice, Magruder and Eleanor Roosevelt). Senior center Jerrod Mustaf, a Bowie transfer, is a physical presence inside. Senior Nick Brewer is slated to start at small forward after playing regularly off the bench last season. Junior shooting guard Andrew Robinson and junior power forward Isaiah Eisendorf face more difficult transitions, moving from outside the rotation last year into the starting lineup this year. Crowell expects growing pains as players adapt to his full-court man defense and fastbreak offense, but Springbrook has the talent to grow during the season. The first question: Who will step up as reliable help for Anderson?

— Dan Feldman

Takoma Academy Tigers

Coach: Harvey Powell Jr., 1st year

Last season's record: 24-7

Returning starters: Two

Takoma Academy will play as an independent this year after leaving the Metro Independent School Athletic Association. The Tigers lost their leading scorer, Desmond Stanback, who is now at Virginia Tech, but Donell Digs and Jalen Williams return.Multiple attempts to contact coach Harvey Powell, Jr., were unsuccessful.

Watkins Mill Wolverines

Coach: Jay Tringone, 6th year (44-60)

Last season's record: 13-9

Returning starters: Two

Last state tournament appearance: 1991

In guards Tyvon Grant, Alex Sotomayor, and guard/quarterback/state discus champion Pat Schlosser, the Wolverines return the athleticism and experience to be worthy of any division rival's envy. In their Montgomery 3A/2A title banner and 3-point playoff loss at eventual regional champion Tuscarora, they also have an enviable pedigree. But according to Tringone, all that envy does not make them favorites this time around. “We did graduate six seniors,” he said. “It's odd to have so much experience in those three guys, alongside a bunch of guys just up from JV.” There is one more thing: those newcomers from JV also won a division title last year. Confidence could be key for the youngsters; the Wolverines lost their first five games last year against the same slate.

— John Y. Wehmueller

Walt Whitman Vikings

Coach: Chris Lun, 9th year (106-86)

Last season's record: 7-17

Returning starters: Four

Last state tournament appearance: 2006

The Vikings are in good position to improve on last year's subpar results with four returning starters.

And more importantly their games mesh well together, ninth-year coach Chris Lun said.

Six-foot-1 senior guard Liam Hatch spent the majority of the season out with an injury but he is back healthy and will man the backcourt with junior point guard Max Steinhorn.

Whitman's size in the paint will add another dimension to the Vikings' typically guard-oriented approach.

In addition to returning starters Daniel Lowet (6-5) and Andrew Castagnetti (6-3), two additional 6-foot-6 players will come off the bench for significant minutes, which will make for a dynamic offense, Lun said.

Castagnett averaged 11.4 points per game last year.

“We're pretty balanced and unselfish, the guys have really bought into the team mentality,” Lun said.

— Jennifer BeekmanThomas S. Wootton Patriots

Coach: Chris Bohlen, 7th year (81-60)

Last season's record: 15-10

Returning starters: None

Last state tournament appearance: 1985

Seventh-year Patriots coach Chris Bohlen said he has more questions than answers at this point, after graduating 10 players from last year's squad, including all five starters.

The Patriots only return a single player with any sort of varsity experience, and that is 5-foot-10 senior guard Jamie Rotburt.

He will be joined in the backcourt by 5-foot-8 sophomore guard Richard Hum.

Junior forward Kwame Frimpong (6-4) gives the Patriots some size in the paint.

Wootton will look to speed the game up this winter. Despite their youth, the Patriots are a smart bunch, Bohlen said, which will allow them to play with a lot of different defenses.

Wootton will rely on its defense to create some easy buckets.

“We have a pretty good pressure defense, we're going to change that around a lot to hopefully keep teams off balance,” Bohlen said.

— Jennifer Beekman

Wheaton Knights

Coach: Sharief Hashim, 4th year (30-39)

Last season's record: 4-19

Returning starters: Three

Last state tournament appearance: 1997

Fourth-year coach Sharief Hashim will turn to junior guards Langston Payne and Tyron White to be the driving force for Wheaton this season.

“We are looking forward to them making good decisions with the basketball, and really trying to push the tempo for us,” Hashim said.

Hashim expects football star Ayinde Warren to fill the role of lock-down defender, since the senior has shown the ability to guard multiple positions on the defensive end. Alexander Attia will provide a strong presence on the glass to improve the Knights rebounding ability.

“I feel like we have better depth than last year,” Hashim said. “Practice has been very positive — there is a lot of communication and talking, which can really let you know what kind of team you have.”

— Kyle Russell