By Craig Clary, firstname.lastname@example.org
11:43 AM EST, November 29, 2012
Depth will keep the competitive juices flowing at practices on the local hardwood as the season unfolds.
Second-year Catonsville High coach Matt Fannin hopes that competition can add up to more victories while Western Tech coach Mike Slepesky feels strength in numbers will offset the star power lost from last year's regional finalists.
Meanwhile, Mount St. Joseph coach Pat Clatchey has so much depth and talent that he has to keep some of his prized rookies on junior varsity.
Read on to see who will be battling for playing time when the season gets underway.
Record last year: 3-17
Returning starters: Senior forwards Jamal Tyson (6-foot-3), Kevin Sheppard (6-0) and Jack Rasmussen (6-3 ) and senior guard James Baker (5-6).
Breakdown: Second-year coach Matt Fannin has seven returning varsity players ready to create a winning vibe around the program.
Seniors Justin Sneed (5-10, G/F) and Brendan McTaggert (6-0, F) and junior Daniel Thompson (6-1, F) also have varsity experience.
"This year, the guys that are coming back are hungry," Fannin said. "It's been awhile since Catonsville has been relevant in basketball, and they have a chance to do something special."
Last year's squad was unsettled at the start of practice because several prospective players were still playing football on a 12-1 squad that reached a state semifinal.
This year's gridders were eliminated in the first round of the regional playoffs and junior football players Teddy Crayton (6-1, G/F) and Joey Getzendanner (5-10, G) are ready to go.
Juniors Christian Boxley (5-9) and Daniel Carver (5-8) will help in the backcourt and junior newcomer Nathan Hines (6-6) brings size to the paint.
Fannin coached the Comet junior varsity from 2008 through 2010 and has been with some of his seniors for four seasons.
"James, Jamal and Jack, you can see by the way they are practicing, they want to make it happen," Fannin said.
Mount St. Joseph
Record last year: 28-8
Returning starters: Senior guard Kameron Williams (6-3), junior forward Phil Booth (6-4) and junior point guard Jaylen Adams (6-0)
Breakdown: Williams, the 2011-12 Baltimore Catholic League Player of the Year, will be heading to Ohio State University next season, but before that he will try and help the Gaels defend their BCL regular-season and tournament titles.
Williams averaged 19 points per game and became the ninth BCL Player of the Year from Mount St. Joe in the past 12 years.
He will share the court with another highly-recruited Division I prospect in Booth.
"Booth's game is just versatility and flexibility," coach Pat Clatchey said. "I don't think he can be defined by a position."
Adams grew four inches in the off-season and will be key to running the Gaels' patient offense.
Senior Charlie Jones (6-4) played a lot of quality minutes last season and is another threat at multiple positions.
Junior forwards Kyle Doran (6-5) and Jordan McNeil (6-5) and junior guard Antonio McDuffie (5-10) also bring varsity experience to the frontcourt.
Junior Adam Ogbonuba, a transfer from Catonsville High's junior varsity, should also log quality minutes.
The Gael junior varsity won the BCL regular-season and tournament title last season and will provide some top prospects for Clatchey's squad.
Among them are juniors Joe Kearney (6-2), Graham Seering (6-7), Zander Wear (6-10), Carson Charf (6-0) and Colton Dunn (6-2).
Wear is the tallest player on the team and one of the most improved.
"He worked ever day after practice during the season and four or five hours a day during the summer," Clatchey said.
Record last year: 13-5
Returning starters: Senior guard Tre Beverly (5-8)
Breakdown: The Wolverines graduated the dynamic inside duo of Andre Jackson and Keith Crowell and with them went their 33 points and 22 rebounds-per-game average, making coach Mike Slepesky employ his entire 15-player roster to replace those numbers.
"They gave me a very good reason to keep 15," Slepesky said. "I think the teams is deeper than last year, we just don't have the star power."
Beverly is the only returning starter, but the Wolverines do have veterans in senior guards Brandon Luster (5-7) and Khalil Edwards (6-1) and senior forwards Tyrell Laster (6-1), Coyet Goodman (6-2) and Devin Collins (6-2).
Junior Chaz Lassiter (5-11) could share point guard duties with Luster and junior Josh Miles (6-4) brings a physical presence to the interior.
"We are very good across the board," Slepesky said. "We will probably rotate 10 or 12 guys."
Seniors Daquane Skipwith (6-0), Earl Holly (6-0) and Lamar Briscoe Wortham (6-0) hope to work into the mix with juniors Donald Imes (6-0), Mike Haysbert (6-4), John Williams (5-11) and John Morant (5-11).
"This year we are going to have to rely on our fastbreaks, pressure and our outside shooting ability," Slepesky said.