Catonsville - Franklin Boys Basketball

Catonsville's Brendan McTaggart, left, and Danny Thompson return for the Comets, who have several veterans back in the fold. Catonsville opens its season on Friday, Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. against Western Tech. (File photo/2012 / January 31, 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.


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Catonsville

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.