If you asked Jim Rhoads to name one of his team's strengths before the season, the Hereford boys coach wouldn't hesitate to say, "shooting." After the Bulls misfired on their first 11 shots in a 48-34 season-opening loss to North Harford, the coach and the top-six returning seniors realized there was still work to be done.
"They came in to a morning practice the next day on a mission," Rhoads said.
Since that loss the Bulls have beaten North Carroll, 61-34, and Carver A & T, 70-51, Fallston, 40-38, and dropped a 39-33 decision to Overlea.
"I thought shooting would be a strength, but that first game they (North Harford) hit their first three or four shots and we missed our first 11. We just got tight the rest of the way," Rhoads said. "We did a pretty nice job rebounding and hustling and we passed well, but we were just tight."
With five senior starters back from a squad that posted the best record (19-4) in Hereford boys basketball history, expectations are high.
"We just have to find a new identity," said Rhoads, who noted the Bulls won a several games in the waning minutes last season.
The coach felt that was going to happen in the opener. When it didn't, it became a wakeup call that contributed to the rout of North Carroll.
Senior Jack Adams grabbed 13 rebounds and sophomore Gabe Cerebelli came off the bench and scored a team-high 14 points against the Panthers.
Cerebelli, who averaged 19 points a game on junior varsity last year, will be a nice scoring addition to a lineup that includes 6-foot-3 senior forwards Adams and Joe Seider.
Seider was the second leading scorer (11 points per game.) last year behind graduated guard Devon Young (18 ppg.), and was second in rebounding (6.5 rpg.) behind Adams (8.0).
Young was a Second Team All-County and Third Team All-Division selection last season.
Seider and Adams are both committed to play Division I lacrosse at Towson University next year, but they would like to flourish again in their final season on the basketball court.
"Jack is probably our most improved player," Rhoads said.
Senior swingmen Matt Greenspan (6-foot) and Josh Reider (6-0) join senior point guard Hunter Kotchenreuter (5-7) in the starting lineup.
Reider is an All-American lacrosse defenseman who plans to play at Dickinson College next year.
"They (seniors) are all pretty good shooters," said Rhoads, noting all were in the rotation last season in various roles.
Senior Jay Patti (6-2) joins the lineup after taking last season off.
Sophomore Aaron Geschwilm brings his 6-5 frame up to varsity, where he figures to add to the team's rebounding strength.
Junior guards Brooks Wilhelm (5-10), AJ Endres (5-9) and Jordan Young (5-11) bolster the backcourt.
Last year's squad finished behind Milford Mill in its quest to represent Class 3A-4A in the Baltimore County championship game, but Rhoads has high hopes this season.
"We have the potential," he said. "We can score. I think the issue is how we are going to play defense. I'm worried about getting stops."
Defense wasn't a problem in the first two contests, holding opponents to a an average of 41 points per game.
Although Hereford was seeded second in its region last year in the playoffs, they drew 15th-seeded Patterson in the first round.
The Clippers were led by Seton Hall University-bound junior guard Aquille Carr and eliminated the host Bulls, 76-44, in front of a sellout home crowd of over 700 fans.