Another winter season is in the books, and with it another fresh crop of tomorrow's stars have begun setting the foundation for successful high school careers. The junior varsity level athletes often compete with less fanfare, but their importance to building successful programs is undeniable.
Some of the top players were rewarded with late-season call-ups to varsity, while others must wait at least one more year for their opportunity. Either way, the lessons learned this season will undoubtedly pay dividends going forward.
We contacted each school, through the athletic administrations, and asked for information on their JV teams. Here's what we heard back:
Atholton put together a successful season, compiling a 13-6 county record and a 15-6 record overall.
The team's three sophomore captains, Alex Myers (8.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.0 steals a game), Marcellus Rogers (6.8 ppg and 6.4 rpg) and Kane Jackson (6.3 ppg), were the leaders.
There were plenty of other contributors, though, for a team that featured extremely balanced scoring production. "Many freshmen stepped up and played big minutes for us, and we are extremely excited for next year as they transform into the leaders of the team," coach Steve Manning said.
There were lots of exciting games, but a late-season meeting at River Hill stood out for Manning. In overtime, with Atholton down two points in the final seconds, freshman guard Jacob Waterworth (3.1 assists per game) dribbled the length of the court and sank a fade-away 3-pointer as time was expiring to secure the victory for the Raiders.
It was another strong year for Centennial, which finished the season 17-3 in county play (19-3 overall). Among the team's accomplishments was a championship at the Liberty Holiday Tournament, defeating Friendly High School and the host Lions.
Contributions came from many players, including Michael Diaz (18.2 ppg and 11.4 rpg), Elijah White (9.9 ppg) and Michael Merkey (8.7 ppg and 4 apg). Other sophomores like EJ Fowler, John Hohmann and Javon Smith provided leadership, timely rebounding and balanced scoring.
The challenge, according to coach Chris Sanders, was "blending the many new faces with the experienced." Ryan Maher, Noah Taylor, Hudson Graves and Jordan Fields helped spell the guards, while Alex Fant, Ethan Kaminski and Justin Taylor saw time at the forward position.
"The most enjoyment comes from watching players initially struggle with the scheme and system and then to slowly see the evolution into a team," Sanders said.
Among the best victories for the Eagles was a late-season win over Reservoir, 56-44. "We knew from past experience that success in the second half of the season would result from solid and consistent defense and how much players were able to step up and compete," said Sanders. "The second Reservoir game gave us the chance to avenge a loss from the beginning of the season."
With 10 freshmen and only one returning sophomore, there was a lot of learning experiences this season for Glenelg. Still, the Gladiators were able to put together a 12-8 record by the end of the year.
Sophomores Trey Davis (9 ppg) and Phil Saiz (8 ppg) led a very balanced attack on offense. Seven different players led the team in scoring throughout the season.
Freshman Chris Currie was a strong on-ball defender, while Jeffrey Powell helped control the glass (9 rpg). Freshmen Joe Piwowarski (3 apg) and Andrew Thai helped control the game at the point guard position.
In addition, freshmen Hank Koele, Tommy Walsh and Colin Auyeung all played meaningful minutes throughout the season.
"With a lot of close games this year the team hopes to carry on the lessons learned to be more successful in future years," coach Joseph Osborne said.
Howard finished the season strong after a slow start. Over the final 10 games the team went 5-5, improving on a 2-7 start, to finish 7-12 overall.
"We struggled during the first half of the year. Although we returned a few players from the year before, we returned almost no game experience," coach Nils Schroder said. "By the end of the year we were playing really good basketball."