No. 8 Warwick Raiders
COACH: Lamont Strothers
LAST YEAR: 1-20, 0-18 (10th)
TOP RETURNEES: 6-4 So. G Lewis Freeman (8.6 ppg), 6-4 G-F Carlton Moody (6.3 ppg), 5-9 Jr. G Malik Lowe (3.1 ppg), 6-0 Jr. G Devante Taylor (3.0 ppg), 6-2 Sr. G Patrick Hunt (8.3 ppg).
OUTLOOK: It was a tough first season for Strothers, whose team was such a revolving door that 21 different players made the box score at least once. You expect that in the NBA with 10-day contracts, but not high school ball. Yet the Raiders look to be much further along than they were a year ago at this time and got off to a promising start with win over Bayside. Freeman is a long athlete, and Hunt is a shooter who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury. How far is to be determined, but Warwick certainly should take a step up from last season.
THE COACH SAYS: “Our strength should be our defensive energy. That’s what we’re trying to make our strength, anyway. And our weakness is consistency at the point guard position. … We’ve learned a lot and we’ve grown a lot. We’re definitely more advanced in understanding things like defensive rotation and recognizing what’s a good show and what isn’t.”
No. 9 Denbigh Patriots
COACH: Demetrius “Duke” Phipps
LAST YEAR: 8-14, 7-11(7th)
TOP RETURNEES: 6-1 Sr. G Marcus Taylor (11.7 ppg), 6-3 Sr. F-G Jamal Williams (2.8 ppg), 6-0 Sr. G Cheyenne Eskew (4.2 ppg).
OUTLOOK: A former player at Woodside, Phipps remembers the days when the Patriots were among the district’s elite. He feels the program can return to those days, though he recognizes it won’t come overnight. Only the three above players returning from last year’s varsity team. A key addition is senior G Devon Mayo, who averaged 6.8 ppg last season at Heritage.
THE COACH SAYS: “We are very young team. We are not a big team, but I think our lack of size can be made up with a good presence on the defensive end. We have to learn to play as a team and do the little things in order to be successful.”No. 10 Gloucester Dukes
COACH: Christopher Morgan
LAST YEAR: 4-18, 2-16 (9th)TOP RETURNEES: 5-11 Jr. G Derek Poole (5.1 ppg), 6-5 So. C Chris Benditt (2.0 ppg), 6-2 Sr. G-F Dan Osborne (4.8 ppg), 6-1 F-G Jarrell Bennett (2.1 ppg).
OUTLOOK: After a promising season in 2010-11, the Dukes took a step back last year. That’s the bad news. The worse news is that the top two scorers, Chris Morgan (no relation to the coach) and Davonte’ Smith, are gone. This season will require some major rebuilding. Poole and Osborne have the most experience. Benditt and Bennett provide some size.
THE COACH SAYS: “(We) will face a very difficult season. Over 60 percent of our team (are) first-year players. (We) open the season with seven of the first nine games on the road. We are hoping for continued improvement and a chance to compete in the second half of the season as seven of the final nine games are at home.”