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Howard County Sports

Howard County 2022-23 boys basketball season preview: Marquee returners set up strong competition

Several of Howard County’s top boys basketball players are returning this season throughout the county. Wilde Lake and Long Reach are expected to headline a group of teams competing for the top spot in the county.

The regular season begins Monday and runs through Feb. 23. The playoffs begin Feb. 25 and conclude with the state championships March 9-11 at the University of Maryland’s Xfinity Center.

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Reservoir is the only Howard County team in Class 4A East Region I. Centennial, Howard, Mt. Hebron and Marriotts Ridge are part of 3A East Region I. Atholton, Long Reach, Oakland Mills, River Hill and Wilde Lake make up 3A East Region II. Glenelg and Hammond are in 2A West Region II.

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Here’s a look at the Howard County teams:

Atholton's Amir Shaheed celebrates a successful 3-point shot against Oakdale during a Class 3A boys basketball semifinal game.

Atholton

Coach: Jared Albert, 11th season

Last season: 14-4, Class 3A state semifinalist

Top Returners: Senior Ayinde DeLeon (F); junior Amir Shaheed (G)

Newcomer to watch: Senior Christian Jackson (PG)

On the court: At 6-foot-5, DeLeon will be the Raiders’ anchor down low defensively as a rim protector and rebounder. Shaheed and Jackson give Atholton an experienced backcourt with strengths as facilitators.

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Coach’s outlook: “We graduated 10 seniors from last year’s state semifinalist team, so we will be young this year. However, with Amir Shaheed and Ayinde DeLeon stepping into bigger roles this season, the addition of Christian Jackson at point guard and our younger supporting cast, we should be poised to make another run for a championship.”

Centennial senior Ty Beck-Winter shoots during the first half of a game against Atholton last season.

Centennial

Coach: Rob Slopek, third season

Last season: 11-8, Class 3A East Region I Finalist

Top Returners: Seniors Ty Beck-Winter and Tyler Longwell; junior Adrien Nyom

Newcomer to watch: Sophomore Josh Frazier

On the court: Beck-Winter and Longwell each averaged over 12 points per game last season and provide the Eagles with great experience. Beck-Winter was a prolific 3-point shooter, shooting 36.5% from behind the arc.

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Coach’s outlook: “We are excited about our returning group from last season. We have some good juniors and a talented sophomore who are hoping to add to the mix this season. We hope to build off the success of last year’s run to the region championship.”

Chapelgate Christian

Coach: Frick Frierson, 19th season

Last season: 19-14

Top Returners: Seniors Timi Akisanya (C), Jaylen Marbley (G), Julian Ludwig (G) and Zef Fuanya (G)

Newcomers to watch: Senior Jevon Davis; junior Julian Sabbat

On the court: Akisanya anchors the Yellow Jackets frontcourt after averaging a double-double last season and being named as an all-conference selection. Marbley, Ludwig and Fuanya all played a lot last season as juniors, with Marbley starting.

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Coach’s outlook: “We’re excited about this year’s team because we are returning so many seniors. With so many returning players, and the addition of Jevon Davis (transfer from Laurel), we are expecting to have success with that leadership. Also, the addition of Julian Sabbat and Dema Nwana who move up from a successful JV team last year, we have a very solid team. We think the sky is the limit for this team if we can stay healthy.”

Glenelg

Coach: Alex Blazek, fourth season

Last season: 12-6

Top returners: Seniors Matt Dalton and Russ Minni

Newcomers to watch: Senior Christian Chen; junior Zach LaFountain

On the court: The Gladiators graduated 2021-22 Howard County Times Player of the Year Bisi Owens, who averaged 22 points per game last season. They’ll now look to lean on several players with varsity experience including Dalton, Minni and LaFountain.

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Coach’s outlook: “I’m optimistic. We graduated potentially the best athlete our school has ever seen and a group of very experienced, tight-knit seniors. This year’s group will have a great opportunity to replace them and make a name for themselves. I think they are capable of doing that.”

Glenelg Country

Coach: Garrett O’Donnell, sixth season

Top returners: Junior Drew McKenna (Wing); sophomores Dominic Carr (G) and Xavier Pickett (G)

Newcomers to watch: Junior Kester Crosse (G); sophomore Patrick Curtin (G)

On the court: McKenna only played eight games last season after sustaining a hand injury but excelled in those games, averaging 23 points and eight rebounds. Carr and Pickett provide added experience in the backcourt with Carr bringing great size at 6-foot-8. Curtin, a transfer from Marriotts Ridge, was one of the top scorers in Howard County last season.

Coach’s outlook: “We have to get through the fact that we’ve got four new players that will get significant minutes for us. We just have to stay healthy. If we stay healthy and we’re able to put some time on the court together, I think good things can happen. If we’re battling the injury bug, that’s going to affect our timing and chemistry like it can any team. Overall, I’ve got some high aspirations for this group. I think they’re talented and I think they’ll do some really good things.”

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Hammond

Coach: Michael Salapata, ninth season

Last season: 6-11

Top returners: Seniors Nick Wilk (G) and Brando Campos (G); junior Justin Christian (F)

Newcomers to watch: Juniors Kamari Fassett (G) and Nathan Chiatey (F); sophomore Justin Campbell

On the court: Christian (6-foot-5) and Chiatley (6-4) provide great size in the frontcourt. Wilk brings a wealth of experience in the backcourt.

Coach’s outlook: “We are very young and have numerous new pieces. Through two weeks, they have been awesome to coach and are really putting in the necessary effort required to be successful. I am very excited to see the development of this team and I am very excited for not only this season but also the future.”

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Howard

Coach: Michael Twardowicz, second season

Last season: 7-11

Top returners: Seniors Griffin Haberern, Michael Russell, Peter Hagen and Aiden Adamitis; sophomore Ronald Alford.

Newcomers to watch: Junior Isaiah Omole; sophomore Griffin Garner

On the court: The Lions lost leading scorer Ethan Maokhamphiou, who transferred to Long Reach. In his absence, the Lions will look to their several experienced varsity players, complemented by several younger players.

Coach’s outlook: “We will have a good mixture of seniors with first-year players. We will be dependent on scoring from many of our first-year players led by Griffin Garner as well as our returning seniors.”

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Long Reach's Christian Dean tries to get a shot off with Wilde Lake's Enosh Minney defending during a playoff game last season.

Long Reach

Coach: Andrew Lazzor, seventh season

Last season: 14-6, Class 3A East Region II finalist

Top returners: Seniors Christian Dean (G) and Cameron Valentine (G); junior RJ Barnes (G)

Newcomer to watch: Senior Ethan Maokhamphiou (G)

On the court: Dean headlines the returners, named first team All-County last season as he averaged a team-high 13.6 ppg. Valentine and Barnes add depth and versatility at the guard position while Maokhamphiou enters the fold after leading Howard in scoring with 15.2 ppg last season.

Coach’s outlook: “We should be a competitive team in the county this year. We are looking to improve on our third-place finish last season.”

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Marriotts Ridge's Kaden Bryan dunks the ball during a game last season against River Hill.

Marriotts Ridge

Coach: Seth Willingham, second season

2021 record: 14-4, Howard County Champion, Class 3A state quarterfinalist

Top Returners: Seniors Kaden Bryan, Mike White, Jay Farrall, Anish Murari and Aidan Elliott

Newcomers to watch: Junior Jack Bonner; sophomore Restia Whitaker

On the court: Bryan is coming back from an injury, but headlines the Mustangs returners after averaging 16.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game as a junior. Marriotts Ridge also has several other veterans that bring great experience from capturing the program’s first county title.

Coach’s outlook: “A team with great team chemistry who will play for each other, be disciplined and play extremely hard. We have a mix of guys with experience, new guys and guys from junior varsity. So, we are in the process of trying to put it all together.”

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Mt. Hebron

Coach: Malik Gilmore, second season

Last season: 1-16

Top returners: Seniors Cooper Strohman (F/C), Gage Cobb (G) and Anitej Ayyargami (G)

On the court: The Vikings will look to bounce back after struggling last season, anchored by the trio of seniors.

Oakland Mills

Coach: Jon Browne, 18th season

Last season: 5-12

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Top Returners: Seniors Zahir Daniels (G), Dejuan Taylor (C), Avery Dompreh-Oduro, Dedric Griffin (F) and Clinton Orji (G/F)

Newcomer to watch: Senior Kamal Francis

On the court: Daniels was named a Third Team All-County selection last season. Oakland Mills has a wealth of senior experience with both Dompreh-Oduro and Taylor starting every game last season. Francis brings an added element for the Scorpions this season after transferring from Glenelg Country.

Coach’s outlook: “We’re senior heavy; I’m cautiously optimistic. We’ll be better than last year.”

Reservoir

Coach: Justin McCoy, first season

Last Season: 8-8

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Top Returner: Senior Zechariah Chin

Newcomer to watch: Sophomore Phoenix Eggleston

On the court: Chin led the Gators in scoring last season, averaging 13 points a game and being named second team All-County. Eggleston (6-8) will add size to Reservoir’s frontcourt, as the Gators will be one of the taller teams in Howard County this season.

Coach’s outlook: “I am looking forward to competing this season. Our guys put in a lot of work during the offseason to improve their individual games. Seeing them put it all together has been very rewarding.”

River Hill

Coach: Matt Graves, 19th season

Last season: 9-8

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Top returners: Seniors Demetre Koutras (C) and Matthew Behrmann (Wing)

Newcomers to watch: Braden Sauritch, Aiden Igwebe

On the court: The Hawks lost 2021 first team All-County performer Levi Lawal to graduation and will look to fill his void. Both Koutras and Behrmann played substantial minutes last season and will look to blend with the infusion of newer players.

Coach’s outlook: “With only four returners, it should be a rebuilding year but there is a ton of potential coming up from last year’s junior varsity team, so expectations will be high. I’m looking forward to the adventure.”

Wilde Lake's Nathan Hiteshaw drives for a layup during a game last season against Atholton.

Wilde Lake

Coach: Jay McMillan, first season

Last season: 9-8

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Top Returners: Seniors Nathan Hiteshew (G), Michael David (G) and James Aka (F); juniors Xavier Gilliam (F) and Kain Corkeron (Wing)

Newcomers to watch: Juniors Ethan Jackson (G) and Miles Faulkner (G); sophomores Noah Brazil (G) and D’Andre Hoskins (Wing)

On the court: Hiteshew was a first team All-County selection, averaging 18 points a game. Korkeron and Gilliam provide added versatility and scoring depth, averaging 14 and 10 points, respectively. Gilliam also showcased strong rebounding ability, averaging a double-double with 10 rebounds per game.

Coach’s outlook: “Our team expects to play sound both defensively and offensively while utilizing our key returners in space on the floor to showcase their skill set. We are a selfless hardworking team who strive to simply get better every day. Great group of young men who compete and seek to maximize their efforts.”


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