With the fall season in the rearview mirror, local athletes are turning their attention to inside events on the hardwood for the winter months.
To find which team could become a driving force — or at least a modest success — this season, check the previews below.
2011-2012 record: 11-15
Returning starters: senior point guard Casey Rees (6-2) and senior shooting guards Colin Heacock (6-3) and Mac Pons (5-10).
Breakdown: The Lakers enter their second season under Cliff Rees and the coach is counting on bigger and better things.
A winning record is practically a must. Boys' Latin has that much potential with the trio of Casey Rees, Heacock and senior forward Brendan Fields (6-3), a transfer from Washington state.
"We are certainly more athletic this year and we have much greater potential to score," Rees said. "I really have pretty high expectations for this group."
Casey Rees knows the system, plays with toughness and can shoot accurately, averaging 18.6 points per game last year.
His scoring prowess could help him make a run at the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference scoring title.
Rees and Heacock were both all-conference picks last year.
"He has really worked on his shooting," Cliff Rees said. "I am expecting to see greatly improved outshooting from him."
Heacock is capable of breaking almost any press, and once down court, is not afraid to pull the trigger.
"He is just athletically a freak," Rees said. "He is big, strong, fast and shoots and handles the ball well. It's a huge advantage to have a guy like that handling the ball for you."
Fields will be in the spotlight as well and should have a huge impact.
Two other newcomers to the varsity, junior guard Jordan Brooks (6-2), a transfer from Archbishop Spalding and sophomore forward Blair Brooks (6-0), should also give the Lakers production on the starting unit.
Pons, senior guard DJ Willoughby (5-10), senior forwards Jamal Perkins (6-3) and Jake Walsh (6-2), junior forward Frederick Bopst (6-2), junior guard Austin Brown (5-9), sophomore guard Devin Shewell (5-10) and freshman guard Logan Wisnauskas (6-1) hope to contribute.
"I am very pleased with the depth I have," Rees said. "I am confident in a lot of guys coming off the bench. It gives us the ability to pressure more defensively."
2011-2012 record: 12-16
Returning starters: Senior small forward Wesley Blackwell (6-2) and junior point guard Sean Mayberry (6-2).
Breakdown: While Blackwell and Mayberry will be key contributors for the Cardinals, sophomore Drew Edwards is the player that is drawing the most attention from big-time collegiate programs.
"By the end of the year, Drew was playing a crucial role for us," Calvert Hall coach John Bauersfeld said, noting the Georgetown University and the universities of Maryland and Arizona are the leading schools currently on the shooting guard's wish list. "We had to win four straight games down the stretch to get into the (MIAA A Conference) playoffs, and he's a big reason why we made it."
Junior Eric Evans (6-4) will work inside with sophomore newcomer Evan Phoenix (6-7), a transfer from Kent Island.
Another transfer, junior Christopher Wallace (6-3), from New Town, will work all over the floor as a key sub with senior point guard Marlon Hynson (6-0) and senior shooting guard Denny Grace (5-11).
"We're a little less athletic than last year, but we play together a little better," Bauersfeld said. "We have a lot of guys now who can make shots."
2011-2012 record: 13-9
Returning starters: senior forward/guard Gavan Scanlan (6-6) and senior shooting guard Zack Hill (6-2).
Breakdown: Since the Lions lost prolific scoring guard Will Darley to graduation, they will be without an obvious go-to guy.
But Dulaney still has some working parts, including Scanlan, who can play three different positions and is a strong defender. He averaged 13 points and seven rebounds per game last year.
Dulaney coach Matt Lochte said Scanlan is getting some interest from Division I colleges.
"He is looking at Lafayette, Navy and West Point," the coach said. "He has a high basketball I.Q."
Hill is another blossoming player, one who could finish with a double-digit scoring average.
"He is getting some Division III looks," Lochte said.
Inside, the Lions boast improving senior center Robert Picka (6-10, 265 pounds).
"We have a big man we love," Lochte said. "His father was drafted by the Celtics. He has a huge upside. He is focused on basketball and we are really excited."
Lochte is banking on the development of junior point guard Jason Lawson (5-8) and senior guard Jordan Williams (6-1) to help the Lions to another winning record.
"I think we can play for a spot in the county championship," Lochte said. "We have more balance this year. Last year, we got caught watching Will too much."
Junior guard Stewart German (6-2), freshman guard/forward Scott Harrelson (6-4) and sophomore guard/forward Gary Banardez (6-1) will be the top reserves.
"We are not super deep," Lochte said.
2011-2012 record: 4-20
Returning starters: Senior shooting guard Avery Filer (6-2) and senior forward Sam Messick (6-5).
Breakdown: New coach Al Holley said he was looking to leave his "comfort zone" and try something different when he landed at Friends after leading Milford Mill to a pair of Class 3A state titles in 2009 and 2010.
What Holley inherits is a team that he feels can be competitive in the MIAA B Conference this season,
In order for that to happen, though, Filer must get the ball from his teammates often enough in the half court to take his deadly jumper.
That's exactly what happened in a 30-point loss to defending A Conference champ John Carroll when Filer poured in 14 points in the third quarter alone.
"He's our best shooter," Holley said. "We'll lean on him to score points."
Others, including senior guards Dan Warren (6-2) and Brandon Jones (5-11), sophomore small forward Donavin Tilley (5-10), senior swingmen Jamal Gross (6-2) and Cedric Charlier (6-1) and senior center Ethan Greene (6-7), will need to pitch in.
"St. Paul's and (St. Vincent) Pallotti are favored in our league, but I like our chances," Holley said.
2011-2012 record: 21-6
Returning starters: senior shooting guard Ben Grace (5-10) and junior power forward Cory Watson (6-5)
Breakdown: Despite taking major hits at graduation, the Greyhounds aren't completely starting over after winning the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference championship last season.
Gone, however, is power forward Ryan Ripken and jumping-jack guard Cyrus Jones.
Ripken averaged 19 points and 10 points per game and Jones averaged 17 points and six assists.
"We are losing 3,000 career points in Cyrus and Ryan," Gilman coach Owen Daly said. "Who is going to score? That is going to be our big question mark."
Daly will turn to sophomore small forward Kai Locksley (6-4), a transfer from New Mexico and the son of university of Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, to be an offensive threat.
He is capable of shooting three pointers or posting up down low.
"He could be a double-double guy," Daly said. "He was a starter as a freshman on a New Mexico state finalist team. He is very athletic and has good sense for the game."
Daly will also be relying on the steady Grace to hit big shots. He averaged 14 points last year, but is expected to improve on that number.
Junior point guard William McBride (5-11) can run the offense as a strong ballhandler and defender.
Watson will be the team's most-watched post player and is very valuable on the defensive end as well, averaging seven rebounds per game last season.
Senior forwards Matt Tilley (6-4) and Riley DeSmit (6-3) and junior forward Gavin Sheets (6-3) are the other key pieces to the frontline.
"In our starting lineup, we go 6-3, 6-4 and 6-5 and we have two guards who can really rebound," said Daly, a fourth-year coach. "So I think this could the best rebounding and defensive team
2011-2012 record: 13-11
Returning starters: senior forward Drew Wagner (6-3), senior guard/forward Elliot Wiley (6-2), junior guard Marqus Logan (5-10) and senior guard Jordan Johnson (5-11).
Breakdown: Bill Toole found the cupboard well-stocked when he took the Loch Raven job in the offseason after coaching the school's junior varsity last year.
And he's encouraged about the Raiders' prospects for success.
"It's a great job because (former coach) Doug Able has really developed the kids the past couple of years," said Toole, who worked as a Loch Raven varsity assistant two years ago. "They are a great, cohesive group. They play hard and they know what is expected of them."
Wiley is the primary outside scoring threat. His quick release is an asset.
"Our best athlete is Elliot," Toole said. "He has a great shot and is a slasher. He will have to take on most of the scoring."
Logan and senior Anton Wiggins (5-8) will be the playmakers. They are both good ones.
"I plan to start the one who is playing harder in practice," Toole said. "They will be batting it out the whole season. Marqus is more athletic. Anton is a heady point guard who is a pass-first guy. That might be what we need."
The floor leaders will have to get the ball inside to Wagner, who will be the threat in the paint and also defend opposing big men.
"Drew is a consistent guy," Toole said. "He will play hard for you, getting rebounds and loose balls."
Johnson, senior guard Greg Franklin (5-10) and senior power forward Chris Simon (6-2) should be valuable players.
Toole promoted three players from last year's JV — junior forward Ed Dett (5-11) and junior guard Vasili Sidou (5-10) and his son, Billy (5-11), a junior guard — to give him more options off the bench.
Senior guards Chris Grafton (5-11), Jayvee Jonas (5-7) and Nevin Sugar (6-0) and senior forwards Dimitri Sidou (6-1) and Stone Philips (6-2) roundout the squad.
2011-2012 record: 10-19
Returning starters: Senior point guard Bennett Bradley (6-0) and senior off guard Mitch Cross (6-1).
Breakdown: The Dons are happy to have Bradley back in the fold running the show while looking for shooters like Cross to beat enemy defenders in the half court or down the floor.
A couple of 6-foot-2 guards, Billy Plunkett and Ryan Fields, should give Loyola more ways to ignite its running style.
The biggest issue for the Dons, though, will be finding other ways to stay in games.
"We're very small, so we're going to have to find a way to rebound the ball," coach Josh Davalli said. "We'll play a similar style to what we played last year. We'll rely on Bennett and Mitch to lead us again.
Realistically, it will be tough for Loyola to contend for a title in the powerful A Conference, given the size and depth of some rivals.
"We have to find rewards from something other than wins," Davalli said.
2012 record: 5-15
Returning starters: junior point guard Tyler Woolsey (5-11), junior guard/forward Jonathan Schildwachter (6-1) and junior forward Nathan Scarff.
Breakdown: The Saints' best hopes for success can be found in an improved offense.
Scoring problems led to lackluster season in 2011-2012.
"They will be able to put the ball in the hole a lot better this year," coach Paul Schildwachter said. "We didn't score a lot of points last year."
Lutheran returns Scarff, the team's top scorer last year, who averaged 10 points per game and had a very good offseason.
"If Nathan can be as consistent as he was last year, I would be pretty happy." Paul Schildwachter said. "He is bigger, stronger and more confident."
The offense should run smoothly with Woolsey back at point guard.
Woolsey and Jonathan Schildwachter figure to be Lutheran's other offensive leaders.
Sophomore forward Justin Torres (6-1) and junior guard Derrick McKnight (5-10) complete the starting lineup.
Senior guard Tyler Birkmaier (5-9) and senior forward Sam Stephens (6-1) provide depth.
"They are great kids that really work hard and really try and learn," Paul Schildwachter said.
Two freshmen — forward Craig Kutchey (6-0) and guard Joseph Schildwachter (5-11) — earned spots on the varsity.
"Our conference schedule really kicks in after Christmas," said Paul Schildwachter, whose team plays in the IAAM C Conference. "We will use
the pre-Christmas time to get our feet wet, figure out what we need to do and how to play with each other. So I am hoping after Christmas everything will start clicking."
2011-2012 record: 19-10
Returning starters: Sophomore forward Daniel Wilson (6-6).
Breakdown: Although Wilson is the lone returning starter, senior swingman Daniel Wilson (6-2) and senior point guard Tony Williams (6-0) have logged a lot of minutes on the varsity level.
Unfortunately for Williams, who started on varsity as a freshman and sophomore, he missed last season because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
But he's ready to make any impact this season.
"Tony has a chance to be the best defender in the league," said St. Paul's coach Seth Goldberg, whose squad was riddled with injuries last season.
A similar injury has already deprived key center Tre Hammer of his senior hoop season.
Senior forward PJ Hefner (6-4) and senior center Michael Mayer (6-6) add experience to the frontcourt and seniors Pat Buttarazzi (6-1) and sophomore returnee Marcel Thompson (6-3) return to the backcourt.
Juniors Liam Anderson (6-3) and Zach Buhl (5-11) join the varsity along with sophomores Blake Brown (5-9), Juwan Kearson (5-7) and Randy Gregory (5-7) and freshman Zach Bare (5-11).
"All of these young guys have surprised us," Goldberg said.
St. Paul's was eliminated by St. Vincent Pallotti in a playoff semifinals last season and will be gunning for its first title since 2010
"The No. 1 thing we need is experience," Goldberg said. "I love their effort and chemistry."
Record last year: 7-16
Returning starters: Senior guard Chance Goldring (6-4).
Breakdown: Although Goldring is the only returning starter who played nearly every game, the Generals had a trio of senior guards who started several games, namely Elias Hilair (6-3), Amry Majeed (5-11) and James Frieson (5-7).
Hilair developed physically during the offseason and is capable of playing any position on the floor.
Darran Cole (6-2), a senior transfer from Poly who never played basketball for the Engineers, bolsters the backcourt.
Junior Sebastian Ambeiger (6-9) has shown significant improvement and could be one of the tallest players in Baltimore County.
"He's really long, and he's definitely going to help us because of his size," coach Tim Gavin said.
Senior Mark Russell (6-3), who missed last season because of knee surgery, could help underneath, along with juniors Charlie O'Melaia (6-5), Kenny Hill (6-3) and Kamil Essian (6-3), a transfer from Friends.
Sharp-shooting senior guard Andrew Mills (5-10), senior Will Boyd (6-0) and juniors Nyekwon Carter (5-9) and Colby Hagan (5-7) add backcourt depth.
Carter was the leading scorer on the junior varsity last season.
"We are really deep," Gavin said. "I think our biggest strength is we are extremely athletic and fast, and we can get up and down the floor. We've got guys here who can do things we haven't seen since I've been here the past three years."
Craig ClaryCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun