Judging by the Atholton boys basketball team's 9-3 record, it seems that not much has changed from last year's squad, which won 22 games.
About the only thing that has not changed, though, is the team's success.
After losing all-county standouts Steve Lombardozzi, Torey Fassett and Sam Permutt to graduation, the Raiders have quickly reassembled, with some of last season's role players taking lead roles and newcomers from the junior varsity showing that they belong.
Again, Atholton finds itself in the thick of the county race with an 8-1 league mark.
"We definitely lost a lot, and I didn't know what to expect," coach Jim Albert said. "But I think just the fact that they knew they were capable, they wanted to win and they were willing to put forth the effort, each day they get better and better."
Seniors Anthony Jones, Aziz Iscandari and Deyon Cook have stepped up and flourished. Jones, 6 feet 5, is averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds a game, and Iscandari and Cook are averaging about 12 points to help pace the offense. Junior point guard Shane Brown has steadily improved, and sophomores Connor Cortes and Matt Robinson have made a smooth transition from last year's 17-1 junior varsity team.
With so many games being played in the early part of the schedule, Albert was concerned about the lack of practice time, but the players blended well from the start.
"They're eager to learn, hard-working and they're athletic," he said. "And winning some games early really helped their confidence."
On Friday, the Raiders got 16 points from Cook and 13 from Brown in a 60-54 win over Mount Hebron before this week's break for exams.
The biggest test to date awaits the Raiders in a week when they travel to Long Reach.
Glenelg wrestling -- Sidelined for a month with an injured shoulder, Glenelg's Chris Stinnett was itching to get back on the mat. When Stinnett finally did - returning Saturday to help the Gladiators upset Mount St. Joseph, 37-30 - he didn't stay for long. The 140-pound standout, a state runner-up last season - needed 51 seconds to pin Shane Cannaday to get 6 points for the Gladiators. "A month for me was so long because I wrestle all year long and can't stand being off the mat that long," he said. "So I knew as soon I had the shot to come back, I was ready to roll. It feels fine." Watching Stinnett get a pin was nothing new for Mount St. Joseph assistant coach Rob Bowman, who was the head coach at Glenelg before joining the Gaels' staff last year. "It was weird, and it was definitely different," Bowman said. "It was kind of like wrestling the guys next door. I knew it was going to be a good match, and it turned out to be a great match."