If you're looking for a title for the 2012-13 Bay Rivers District basketball season, call it "The Year of the Shooting Stars." We're not referring to flashes in the pan, here, but instead to a group of returning players who've long contributed for their teams – particularly with their long-distance strokes.
Poquoson's Royce Bowden struggled with injuries last year, and a concussion sustained in a game during the summer, but appears to be in peak form with 44 points, and 11 3-pointers, in the Islanders first two games. York's Brandon Harvell has been lighting it up for two seasons, and looks to improve on his 17.3 points average of last year.
Lafayette's John Fitchett, who, at 6-4, is as comfortable inside as behind the arc, returns after averaging 16.5 points last year and made a big statement with 30 points in the Rams' district-opening win over New Kent. And Warhill's Devonte Dedmon, a 17-points per game scorer last year, can drill it outside or operate in transition like nobody's business.
Thing is, each of those guys will need lots of help to carry his team into district title contention, and some of them will get it. But the guess here is that Bruton's Marcus Carter and Grafton's Elijah Moore already have said complementary pieces around them, so we're picking their teams as the favorites.
Carter, a 6-2 junior, showed a nice stroke in averaging 11.7 points and 5.5 rebounds for a balanced Bruton team that pushed Grafton for the 2011-12 district crown. Moore, a 6-7 senior coveted by some Division I mid-majors, averaged 18 points and 10.1 rebounds in leading the Clippers to the Group AA Division 4 state championship game a year ago.
The favorite? We'll go with Grafton again, but it won't be easy in a league balanced competitively from 1-to-10.
LAST SEASON: 25-4, 17-1 (1st)
COACH: Jeremy Jordan
THE BUZZ: The Clippers possess the best point guard in the district in Tyler McMillan and the best man-to-man defender in Jesse Santiago, an excellent rebounder to boot. If guard Joey Miller can be consistently aggressive and effective offensively, Moore will perhaps have enough partners to lead another state tourney run.
LAST SEASON: 19-6, 14-4 (T-2nd)
COACH: Joe Dillard
THE BUZZ: Though only 6-3, Chad Simmons (9.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg) is a presence inside, just as Carter can also be. But, as usual, Bruton will depend on speed, athleticism and their pressing trap to force the issue on the perimeter and in transition. First-year head coach Joe Dillard has the bodies to make that work.
LAST SEASON: 17-8, 14-4 (T-2nd)
COACH: Patrick Brown
THE BUZZ: Jaquan Hayes is showing signs, 17 points in each of the past two games, of giving the Rams a second scorer to go with Fitchett. Post players Mark Rivera, 6-4, and Garry Banks, 6-7, have tremendous potential for first year coach Brown, but ball-handling is a concern.
LAST SEASON: 7-15, 7-11 (T-2nd)