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River Hill's Nick Marshall, center, and Reservoir's Jaylen Manning, right, helped guide their respective teams to a top half finish in the county standings last winter — one of six county schools with double-digit victories in league play.
River Hill's Nick Marshall, center, and Reservoir's Jaylen Manning, right, helped guide their respective teams to a top half finish in the county standings last winter — one of six county schools with double-digit victories in league play. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

At first glance, it would be easy to focus on what’s missing from Howard County boys basketball this winter.

All eight players that made first-team All-County a season ago, including Player of the Year Daeshawn Eaton of Oakland Mills, have graduated. And two of the county’s longest tenured coaches who have accumulated more than 300 wins combined during the last 10 years — Chad Hollwedel at Centennial and Mike Coughlan at Reservoir — are no longer with their respective programs.

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But for all the departures, those close to the area’s programs caution not to automatically write off this season as being a “down year.”

“To me, with all the fresh faces, it’s a new beginning for Howard County. Turnover doesn’t always have to be a bad thing,” said River Hill coach Matt Graves, who is set to begin his 16th season leading the Hawks and sits as the county’s longest tenured coach.

“I think with so many new faces and not knowing what to expect, it’s going to make for a fun and exciting year. And with so many unknowns, I really think it’s going to be extremely competitive with a lot of teams in the mix.”

In reality, the prospect of parity at the top of the county standings isn’t much of a change from recent seasons. Graves’ River Hill squad was one of six teams a season ago to finish with at least 10 county wins, while the Hawks and Oakland Mills shared the county title with 13-3 records in 2017-18.

For Atholton coach Jared Albert, who guided the Raiders to the county title last winter, he says that he comes into every year expecting a battle each and every night.

“I’ve said it many times before, but the parity in the county is a direct reflection of the quality coaches we have from top to bottom. It doesn’t matter if the other team is in a rebuilding season or if you may have beaten a team by a bunch earlier in the year, you better be ready to go,” Albert said. “We saw it last year against Howard at their place. They had a tough year but they were beating us almost the entire second half the second time we played them before we pulled it out in the end.

“I fully expect it to be that kind of year again — lots of grind it out games and not a lot of separation.”

Oakland Mills coach Jon Browne adds that he feels a balanced county has better prepared teams for the postseason.

“When every night is a test and there are no cupcakes on the schedule, it makes you stronger. I personally love it,” said Browne, whose Scorpions made the 2A South region final last winter. “It absolutely helped us last year and I’d bet Reservoir would say the same about its run to the [state] finals … there’s something to be said for being battle tested.”

Howard County has had a team in the state semifinals each of the last two seasons — with River Hill in 2018 preceding Reservoir’s run last winter — after back-to-back years without a region champion in 2016 and 2017.

The general consensus is that there’s enough talent in the county for at least one team to extend that run to three straight, although pinpointing exactly which team is a bit more difficult.

Defending county-champion Atholton graduated 10 seniors from last year’s squad, but does have second-team All-County performer Jordan Oates (10.2 ppg and 10.7 rpg) back in the fold to lead its title defense. River Hill is also a top-half county team from a season ago returning a second-team player, with junior Nick Marshall looking to build on a 2018-19 season where he averaged 13.9 points and 2.8 assists a night.

Oates and Marshall, though, are the only two players back from last year’s All-County squads.

Instead, there’s a large crop of budding talent poised to take center stage.

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Junior Aria Ameli returns at Reservoir after setting a county public-school record with 69 made 3-pointers a season ago. He’s joined on the Gators’ roster by five other returners, including a trio of players — Ryan Saunderson, Kaleb Glasper and Jaylen Manning — who logged double-digit minutes off the bench in last year’s 3A state final.

Howard senior Darrion Harris is the county’s leading returning scorer after a campaign where he averaged 16 points a game. Centennial’s Joey Sedlacko (14.5 ppg) and Long Reach’s Darelle Raymond (13.2) are also returning after finishing among the county’s top 20 scorers.

For other top teams from last year — like Mt. Hebron, Oakland Mills and Wilde Lake that have each finished .500 or better in league play for two straight seasons — it’s the sum of the parts that could very well lead to continued success. Each of those programs doesn’t necessarily have a clear-cut leader entering the season, but instead have a number of quality, interchangeable pieces that could add up to something special by season’s end.

“Our strengths should derive from our authentic balance,” Mt. Hebron coach Jared Ettinger said. “We are solid at each position. Each match-up may yield a particular outcome that emphasizes either our post presence, slashing abilities and/or shooting.”

Looking deeper, Glenelg, Hammond and Long Reach all finished in the bottom third of the standings last winter but all three have at least one winning season in county play in the last four years.

Hammond joins Marriotts Ridge as the area’s two youngest teams on paper, rostering six and five underclassmen, respectively.

The alignment of the postseason will have a new look in terms of both format and distribution of teams in the different classifications.

Mirroring the structure in place for sports in the fall, each region is still separated into two sections but now the winner of each section — now called “Region I” and “Region II” — advances to the state quarterfinals. The remaining teams will be re-seeded 1-8 based on regular-season win percentage.

The old format pitted section champions from the same region against one another in a region championship to advance to the state semifinal round. The potential is now there for two teams in the county to play in a state semifinal or final because of the reseeding.

Ten of the county’s 12 teams are now slotted into 3A East, with Region I consisting of Centennial, Marriotts Ridge, Mt. Hebron and Wilde Lake (in addition to Manchester Valley and Westminster). Region II has Atholton, Hammond, Long Reach, Oakland Mills, Reservoir and River Hill.

Elsewhere, Glenelg is in Region I of 2A West and Howard is in Region I of 4A East.

In the private school ranks, Glenelg Country is looking to build on last year’s winning record (10-8, 21-10 overall) in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference. The Dragons graduated All-Conference selection Chase Paar, but do return four seniors — Igor Yoka-Bratasz (10.7 ppg in 2018-19), Noah Charles (10.0), Jarod Robinson (8.4) and Jordan Brathwaite (7.7) — with significant playing experience. Throw in talented junior Cole Paar (5.8 ppg) to go along with sophomore transfer Noah Batchelor, and it’s easy to see why coach Garrett O’Donnell is excited about this group’s potential.

“Our goal is to pick up right where we left off, and while we lost a great post presence in Chase, we still have a great group of kids that have a great work ethic and toughness,” O’Donnell said. “I’m expecting us to now have a more spread and balanced attack this season.”

Chapelgate is coming off a rebuilding season in the B Conference, winning just one league game, but brings back a couple key pieces in Zach Knox and Jax Felder that each averaged double figures scoring a season ago.

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Here’s a closer look at each of the 14 local programs heading into the season:

Atholton's Jordan Oates averaged a double-double last season of 10.2 points and 10.7 rebounds a game on his way to being named second-team All-County.
Atholton's Jordan Oates averaged a double-double last season of 10.2 points and 10.7 rebounds a game on his way to being named second-team All-County. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Atholton

2018-19 record: 14-2 county, 19-3 overall

Coach: Jared Albert, 8th season

Top players: Seniors Raymond Brown, Jordan Oates, Darren Miller, Jabari Rankin, and Ian Swartz.

What you need to know: The Raiders are coming off the program’s first county title since 2014, finishing two games clear of the rest of the league during the regular season. But for all the success from last winter, it’s the team’s loss to Mt. Hebron to begin the playoffs that Albert says has his group as motivated as ever.

“For our returners, I think that one still hurts a bit. We didn’t come out ready to go, had one of our lowest scoring outputs of the season and let the game get away from us,” Albert said. “I feel like the memory of that is going to keep us focused and hungry.”

Oates is the leader of the returning group and Albert has challenged him to become more vocal and take control on the floor. He can score in a multitude of ways and has added the ability to put the ball on the floor and get to the basket with efficiency. Brown is a defensive stopper, while Rankin and Miller were consistent contributors off the bench a season ago. Swartz is a transfer into the program from Glenelg Country and should do a little of everything.

“Honestly, I think we will be as deep as we were last year and that’s a great problem to have, trying to find ways to get all these guys on the floor,” Albert said. “I’ve been very pleased with our group of rising juniors that are coming up from JV and seem ready to step right in and play big minutes.”

Centennial's Joey Sedlacko is the team's leading returning scorer after averaging 14.5 points a game last season.
Centennial's Joey Sedlacko is the team's leading returning scorer after averaging 14.5 points a game last season. (Daniel Kucin Jr. / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Centennial

2018-19 record: 10-6, 13-10

Coach: Chris Sanders, 1st season

Top players: Seniors Jeong Hwang and Joey Sedlacko.

What you need to know: Sanders takes over after leading the Eagles’ JV program and coaching under departed coach Chad Hollwedel for the last decade. His goal is to run a very similar program.

“There will not be much change,” Sanders said. “We are balanced and will look for opportunities to push the ball. We like our guard play and will look to utilize that with our scheme. We will share the ball, demonstrate patience offensively and try to be disciplined and vary the approach on defense.”

Sedlacko was the team’s leading scorer last season at 14.5 points a game, while Hwang had a few double-digit scoring performances of his own. Those two will serve as the lynchpins for an Eagles’ team that has plenty of quality reinforcements joining the roster from a Centennial JV squad that went 21-1 last winter.

“Our returning seniors are hungry and will be pushed hard by the arrival of many talented players from JV,” Sanders said.

Glenelg's Max Pearcy averaged 4.5 points a game last season.
Glenelg's Max Pearcy averaged 4.5 points a game last season. (Doug Kapustin / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Glenelg

2018-19 record: 4-12, 8-15

Coach: Alex Blazek, 1st season

Top players: Senior Jack Walsh; junior Max Pearcy.

What you need to know: For first-year varsity coach Alex Blazek, who takes over for Jansen McMillan, the roster he inherits is filled with potential. Having graduated their top five scorers from a season ago, the Gladiators certainly have their share of question marks. But Blazek says he expects his players to have a winning mentality.

“We are eager to see who will step up and become the leaders of this team,” he said. “We have an interesting group of basketball players this year, many of whom have won state titles in other sports, been to state final games, and competed for regional titles. We are hoping those experiences and winning cultures will transfer over to our program.”

Walsh averaged 3.2 points a game last season and is one of seven seniors on this year’s roster. Pearcy, meanwhile, joined the varsity squad at the end of December last season and averaged 4.5 points over the final 17 games of the season.

Overall, Blazek expects to utilize a deep rotation.

“We are really excited about our depth. We have a great group who truly care about each other and play for each other,” he said.

Hammond head coach Mike Salapata begins his sixth season with the program this winter.
Hammond head coach Mike Salapata begins his sixth season with the program this winter. (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Hammond

2018-19 record: 3-13, 8-15

Coach: Michael Salapata, 6th season

Top players: Seniors David Aodu and Khaleb Mair; junior Reilly Moore; sophomore Ian Addison.

What you need to know: Having graduated two of the top scorers in the county from a season ago — Micah Henry and Jaylen Wiggins — the Golden Bears have a fresh new look that includes five sophomores and a freshman on varsity. And while there may be some growing pains along the way, coach Mike Salapata is excited by what the future might hold for this group.

“This is by far the youngest team I have had in 18 years of coaching … so we will be a work in progress as the year progresses,” he said. “The kids, though, are a pleasure to coach, as they are always looking to learn more. So I’m exited to see how we develop.”

Aodu is the team’s leading returning scorer, coming off a junior season where he finished third on the team in scoring at 6.2 points a night. Mair is another senior that made consistent contributions off the bench a season ago, while Moore is a junior forward who should make an impact on both ends.

Addison, however, is the one to really keep an eye on after he averaged a team-best 14 points a game on JV for two months last season before joining varsity and scoring just under six points a contest over 10 games. Salapata believes his sophomore “has a chance to be one of the best players around by the time he is done at Hammond.”

Howard's Darrion Harris is the leading returning scorer among Howard County boys basketball players after averaging 16 points a game last season.
Howard's Darrion Harris is the leading returning scorer among Howard County boys basketball players after averaging 16 points a game last season. (Steve Ruark / Carroll County Times)

Howard

2018-19 record: 1-15, 6-18

Coach: Seth Willingham, 7th season

Top players: Seniors Darrion Harris, Justin Hendricks and Will Simmons; juniors Kyle Colbert and Cooper Haberern.

What you need to know: The Lions certainly took their lumps a season ago, winning only once against league competition. But with most of last year’s roster back in the fold, coach Seth Willingham is hoping his players learned from those struggles and improved team chemistry will lead to a bounce-back campaign.

“We have depth and experience now because we started and played a lot of young guys last season, so hopefully that will pay off this year,” said Willingham, who now has a roster of all juniors and seniors. “From top to bottom we have an athletic group.”

Harris scored 13 or more points in all but five games a season ago on his way to averaging 16 points a game. Hendricks was right behind him at 9.9 points a game, which was second best on the team.

Simmons and Colbert bring a toughness to the team after both served as starters on the Lions’ football squad this past fall. Willingham is particularly excited to see how big of a jump forward Colbert makes after starting at point guard all last season as a sophomore.

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Haberern is a transfer in from Long Reach, where he averaged 5.4 points a game as a sophomore.

Long Reach's Darrelle Raymond was the team's leading scorer last season with an average of 13.2 points a game.
Long Reach's Darrelle Raymond was the team's leading scorer last season with an average of 13.2 points a game. (Israel Carunungan)

Long Reach

2018-19 record: 3-13, 7-15

Coach: Andrew Lazzor, 4th season

Top players: Seniors Carey Olivis and Darelle Raymond; juniors Kojo Addo and Da’Vaun Yarbough.

What you need to know: The Lightning bring back plenty of firepower in the backcourt to lead the team’s charge toward a bounce-back season. During summer league, coach Andrew Lazzor was encouraged by his team’s performance.

“We went 9-2 in the summer and are looking to bring that into this season,” Lazzor said. “We should be experienced at the guard position, with most of our guards returning from last year. We want to push the ball and use our quickness.”

Raymond is the smallest player on the roster at 5-foot-6, but can score with the best in the area. He averaged 13.2 points a season ago, including four games eclipsing 20 points. His backcourt mate Olivis is also back after finishing third on the team with 7.6 points a game as a junior.

Addo is looking to build on last year where he averaged 5.9 points a game, while Yarbough is a 6-foot-6 transfer into the program expected to immediately contribute from the wing position.

Marriotts Ridge Mustangs guard John Miller is the team's lone returning starter this winter.
Marriotts Ridge Mustangs guard John Miller is the team's lone returning starter this winter. (Terrance Williams / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Marriotts Ridge

2018-19 record: 9-7, 14-9

Coach: Tim Brady, 4th season

Top players: Seniors Jordan James, Andrew Page, Cam Smith and Ira Snell; juniors John Miller and Cole Tran; freshman Kaden Bryan.

What you need to know: Few teams were as senior heavy as the Mustangs a season ago, with the team this winter bringing back just one returning starter in the form of Miller. The versatile junior guard, though, is a good one to build around after he averaged over eight points a game. Around him is a cast of players light on varsity experience, but brimming with talent.

“We lost 10 seniors from last year, but make no mistake, we are not rebuilding,” Brady said. “If these guys continue to work hard every day we are ready to win now. We plan to use our athleticism to our advantage, pressing teams and pushing the pace with our depth to wear teams down.”

Among the group of seniors, both Snell and Smith have been with the program for four years. James arrives as a transfer into the team, while Tran was the leading scorer for the Mustangs’ JV squad a year ago before moving up to varsity late in the season.

Also keep an eye on Bryan as a 6-foot-4 freshman who can shoot, drive and also post up.

Mt. Hebron's William Bates averaged 6.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game as a junior.
Mt. Hebron's William Bates averaged 6.6 points and 6.3 rebounds a game as a junior. (Daniel Kucin Jr. / for BSMG)

Mt. Hebron

2018-19 record: 8-8, 13-12

Coach: Jared Ettinger, 2nd season

Top players: Seniors Will Bates, Justin Cargiulo, Chris Lewis, Justin Michelotti and Matt Millen; juniors Quran Briggs and Evan Ichrist.

What you need to know: The Vikings got better as the season went along last winter under first-year varsity coach Jared Ettinger, winning seven of their last 10 games. Included in the closing stretch was a second-round playoff victory over county-champion Atholton.

While a lot of the offensive firepower from that team graduated, Ettinger thinks there are more than enough pieces back in the fold to continue the forward momentum.

“We understand that many are underestimating us this season and we are relishing in the role of ‘underdog.’ We had a very productive offseason, where our players prioritized their development and growth,” Ettinger said. “This dedication will pay huge dividends for our team this season.”

Bates (6.6 ppg in 2018-19) and Ichrist (6.2) are the team’s leading returning scorers, with each boasting three years of varsity experience. Bates is the team’s top post player, while Ichrist mans the point guard position.

Carguilo is a defensive leader inside, while Lewis, Michelotti and Millen were all varsity reserves a season ago that are now ready for expanded roles. Also keep an eye on Briggs, who was the leading scorer on Mt. Hebron’s JV team last year at 17.3 points a game.

Oakland Mills' Truth Norton is the Scorpions leading returning scorer after averaging 7.1 points a game last season.
Oakland Mills' Truth Norton is the Scorpions leading returning scorer after averaging 7.1 points a game last season. (Daniel Kucin, Jr. / For Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Oakland Mills

2018-19 record: 12-4, 19-6

Coach: Jon Browne, 15th season

Top players: Seniors Ahmed Diaby, Damien Hopkins, Truth North and Stevie Jackson; Junior Barry Evans.

What you need to know: The Scorpions have established themselves as a mainstay among the county’s upper tier, finishing with 12 or more county victories in six of the last seven seasons. While there is plenty of scoring production to replace, including the 20 points a game that Player of the Year Daeshawn Eaton averaged last winter, coach Jon Browne believes his senior core has it in them to keep the team jockeying for position in the upper tier.

“We are real green right now, so it may take us a little longer than usual to catch our stride, but we have some athletes and some unproven guys I’m excited about,” Browne said. “It’s just important that we stay patient and understand that we have to mature and really focus on getting better during this first month of the season.”

Norton (7.1 ppg in 2018-19), Hopkins (6.4) and Evans (4.2) were all consistent varsity contributors last season. Norton and Hopkins combined to make 50 3-pointers a season ago and should be able to stretch the floor once again, while Evans at 6-foot-5 will be counted on to lead the group on the interior. Diaby will provide assistance in the paint, while Jackson arrives as a transfer from Mt. Hebron that scored in double figures a couple times as a junior a season ago.

Reservoir's Ryan Saunderson, right, releases a shot over Thomas Johnson's Billy Coughlin (21) as he drives to the hoop during the MPSSAA Class 3A boys basketball semifinal game at University of Maryland.
Reservoir's Ryan Saunderson, right, releases a shot over Thomas Johnson's Billy Coughlin (21) as he drives to the hoop during the MPSSAA Class 3A boys basketball semifinal game at University of Maryland. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Reservoir

2018-19 record: 11-5, 18-9

Coach: Ian Pope, 1st season

Top players: Seniors Rashod Ballard, Jaylen Manning, James-Michael Musser and Ryan Saunderson; juniors Aria Ameli, Kaleb Glasper, Jason Ha and Robert Hill.

What you need to know: First-year varsity head coach Ian Pope inherits a Gators’ squad that returns several key pieces from a team that made the program’s first state title game last winter under long-time coach Mike Coughlan. In fact, each of the returning group of Ameli, Saunderson, Manning, Glasper, Musser and Ha had at least one game of nine or more points a year ago.

“Our strength will be our experience, as we have six returners from last year’s team led by our leading 3-point shooter Aria Ameli, and our depth,” Pope said. “As a guard-oriented team, we will have interchangeable parts when it comes to pushing the tempo, running the offense and defending.”

While this is Pope’s first head varsity position, he does have eight years of JV experience. He has led teams at Marriotts Ridge and Reservoir, following up stints assisting Dave Appleby and Deon Wingfield at Wilde Lake.

Ameli (9.6 ppg) and Saunderson (6.8) are the leading returning scorers, while Manning is a shutdown defender who can also score in bunches. Ballard and Hill are transfers into the program from Farragut Academy and Dematha, respectively, and will only add to the team’s depth.

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River Hill's Elijah Feeney hit 21 3-point shots last season.
River Hill's Elijah Feeney hit 21 3-point shots last season. (Daniel Kucin Jr. / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

River Hill

2018-19 record: 10-6, 16-8

Coach: Matt Graves, 16th season

Top players: Seniors Jackson Graves and Elijah Feeney; Juniors Nick Marshall and Ethan Smith.

What you need to know: For a Hawks’ program aiming for its fourth straight winning season, everything starts with the backcourt. Graves and Marshall logged the majority of the minutes for River Hill at the guard positions a year ago and both are back ready for even larger roles.

Those two, along with the sharp-shooting Feeney, combined to hit 61 3-point shots last winter. Marshall, in particular, has plenty of buzz around him during the preseason as a potential Player of the Year candidate after scoring in double figures in 15 of the final 17 games a year ago.

Throw in the addition of 6-foot-6 Mount St. Joseph transfer Smith to the roster and this has the makings of a Hawks’ team that could thrive in a number of different styles.

“We are more athletic than we have been in recent years, especially on the perimeter,” Graves said. “We can hit the gas when we want to, but can also hit the brakes and run our stuff with 25-30 second possessions if that’s what the match-up dictates. The big thing is that we should be able to be the ones dictating tempo.”

Wilde Lake head coach Deon Wingfield is beginning his ninth season with the Wildecats.
Wilde Lake head coach Deon Wingfield is beginning his ninth season with the Wildecats. (Nate Pesce / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Wilde Lake

2018-19 record: 11-5, 15-8

Coach: Deon Wingfield, 9th season

Top players: Seniors Kyjuan Adams, Kwaku Boampong and Marcus Mitchell; juniors Abolaji Monk and Brince Shelton.

What you need to know: The Wildecats played as frontrunners in the county title race for the first two months of last season before injuries derailed the team’s season. The top two scorers from that squad — Trea Keys and Marc Marshall — have graduated, but that doesn’t mean the Wildecats are starting over. In truth, coach Deon Wingfield says he sees a lot of the same characteristics in this year’s group.

“It’s still a team-first philosophy, with everyone working toward the same common goal. We have the guys to be able to play up-tempo with lots of pressure and trapping on defense,” Wingfield said. “The only difference really is I think our scoring will be more of a group effort, not leaning on one or two guys to carry us. The nice thing is we have the depth to make that work.”

Boampong (6.7 ppg in 2018-19) and Mitchell (5.3) are the established commodities offensively. Boampong added an average of 5.8 rebounds a night a season ago, while Mitchell came on strong after missing the first half of the year. Adams contributed in a reserve role as a junior.

Monk, meanwhile, was the leading scorer on JV a year ago at 16 points a game, while Shelton arrives as a transfer in from New York that will contribute immediately at the guard position.

Chapelgate's Jax Felder is averaging over eight points a game through four regular-season games so far this winter.
Chapelgate's Jax Felder is averaging over eight points a game through four regular-season games so far this winter. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Chapelgate

2018-19 record: 1-15 MIAA B, 6-26

Coach: Frick Frierson, 16th season

Top players: Seniors Kitan Ogunmola and Jordan Praylow; juniors Zach Knox and Saihou Mbergan; sophomore Jax Felder.

What you need to know: Injuries were one of a number of different factors that led to the Yellowjackets posting their lowest win total last winter since moving to the MIAA B Conference prior to the 2011-12 season. Already through four regular-season games this year, it’s obvious that this group is poised for a bounce-back campaign.

With a balanced attack and plenty of depth, Chapelgate can play in a number of different ways with a team that has a good bit of chemistry.

“We still have a young team in some ways, but in some ways they are experienced because we have a lot of returning players,” coach Frick Frierson said. “We only graduated two seniors. We will continue to try and play fast, but we also have a couple of players who can score inside now as well.”

Knox is the team’s leading returning scorer and has scored in double figures in each game thus far. Felder, Ogunmola and Mbergan have also notched at least one double-digit scoring game through the month of November. Lance Richards (Mount St. Joseph) and DT Hamilton, who arrives from Georgia, are immediate impact transfers into the program.

Cole Paar, left, and Igor Yoka-Bratasz are two of the top returners this winter for Glenelg Country.
Cole Paar, left, and Igor Yoka-Bratasz are two of the top returners this winter for Glenelg Country. (Jen Rynda / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Glenelg Country

2018-19 record: 10-8 MIAA A, 21-10

Coach: Garrett O’Donnell, 3rd season

Top players: Seniors Jordan Brathwaite, Noah Charles, Jarod Robinson and Igor Yoka-Bratasz; junior Cole Paar; sophomore Noah Batchelor.

What you need to know: The Dragons more than flipped their record in their two years under coach Garrett O’Donnell — going from six wins in 2017-18 to 21 last winter. The overall win total was the most for Glenelg Country since moving to the MIAA A Conference prior to the 2011-12 season.

The team made an opening statement by defeating Bishop O’Connell in the Wootton Invitational and O’Donnell said that is the beginning of a schedule during the month of the season that will set a nice barometer for his team.

“Our opening stretch is brutal, really our entire non-conference schedule is incredibly tough, so we are going to learn a lot about where we are right away,” O’Donnell said. “I really like this group, though, and it starts with our core group of four returning seniors.”

Charles, Robinson and Yoka-Bratasz all scored in double figures during the opening victory, but it was Batchelor that made the biggest impression. The 6-foot-5 sophomore, who transfers in from St. Maria Goretti and has attracted significant D-I interest after attending the USA Basketball mini-camp over the summer, scored a team-high 23 points in his Dragons’ debut.

Paar is another key piece, averaging six points a game as a sophomore, and bringing a versatile presence on both ends.

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