Local boys’ teams have hit the hardwood and are using the preseason to fine tune for what appears to be shaping up as an intense battle in the Lackawanna League Division IV.
Last year’s league runner-up is considered the favorite as the Blue Ridge Raiders return three starters, including Division IV Player of the Year Connor Cranage.
Forest City could sneak up on the Raiders though – being the one team, aside from Elk Lake, to defeat the Blue Ridge in league play.
Mountain View lost two-time league all-star Ryan Henke to graduation but the Eagles return four starters, including seniors Carter Bain, Ryan Drake, and Tanner Stout who have all been part of the starting line-up since their sophomore season.
Two-time defending league champion Elk Lake was hit hard by graduation and Coach Rich Emmons will look for a group of sophomores to step up to aid four-year starter Wyatt Casselbury, as well as Isaac Gesford who saw valuable minutes as the sixth man last year.
Susquehanna returns starters Colton Stone and JT Burke but will also be looking for others to take on larger roles this season.
Montrose is hoping a change in direction can get the Meteors back on track after a couple tough seasons. Bernardo Cruz takes over at the helm after three seasons as the boys’ assistant coach.
Teams will continue their exhibition schedules and all six teams will compete in Holiday Tournaments between the Christmas and New Year weekends. Elk Lake will host Blue Ridge, Montrose, and Susquehanna in the return of the Susquehanna County Christmas tournament after a two-year hiatus due to Covid.
Forest City and Mountain View will travel to North Pocono to compete in the annual North Pocono Aken Holiday Tournament.
Coach: Wes Parks
Assistant Coaches: Josh Edwards, Gavin Bradley, Kaleb Folk, Ray Bauer, Mariusz Motyka
Seniors: James Barbour 6-1 F, Tim Higgins 5-10 G, JJ Rosa 6-0 G, Dalton Rutter G
Juniors: Dylan Bradley 6-2 F, Connor Cranage 6-0 G, Carson Gallagher 6-0 G, Ryan Scott 6-1 F, Morgan Thomas 6-0 G
Sophomores: Conner Blewett 6-0 F, Brandon Carpenetti 6-0 F, Gherig Dibble 6-0 G, Riley Hayes 6-0 F, Andrew Kowalewski 5-10 G, Jesse Robbins 6-1 F, Brayden Smith 6-0 G.
Freshmen: Landon Bishop 5-10 G, Will Hobart 6-1 F, Brendan Marvin 5-10 G, Gavin Parker 5-8 G, Alex Hanson 5-8 G.
Coach’s Outlook: “The Raiders were Locked In all summer and the Junior and Seniors on this team, who are the heart and soul of the program, currently have the community fired up for a fun-filled winter sports season! After a great summer and fall filled with lots of basketball for these young men, the future looks bright in the town of New Milford. We will use the preseason to see how we compete with the bigger schools and where we are at.
Player perspective: “We want to play together and be team oriented. A key to our success is our brotherhood, we’re more like a family than a team.” – James Barbour
Coach: Rich Emmons
Assistant Coaches: Ray Lasher, Gary Johnson
Seniors: Blaine Burnett 6-0 F, Gus Brown 6-1 F, Wyatt Cassellbury 6-5 F, Zayne Shupp 6-0 F
Juniors: Isaac Gesford 5-9 G, Cayden Stephens 6-5 C
Sophomores: Logan Ayotte 5-8 G, Noah Gesford 5-9 G, Brayden McMicken 6-0 F, Dawson Sherman 6-0 F,
Freshmen: Aiden Burry 5-9 G, Austin Brown 5-9 G, John Heitsman 6-1 G/F, Kendall Jones 5-11 G, Brayden Miller 6-1 F, Fenton Smith 6-1 F, Isiah Strohl 5-10 G
Coach’s Outlook: “We are relying on a lot of guys with very little varsity experience. Casselbury and Gesford will have to take on larger roles and lead with the experience they have. We are confident in our younger guys being able to develop and adapt to how intense, physical, and active they need to be at this level.”
Player perspective: “We lost a lot of Seniors from last year. I am looking to help develop the younger players so they can help now and be even better in the future.” – Wyatt Casselbury.
Coach: John Duffy
Assistant Coaches: Kade Kohlheffer
Seniors: Dylan Bezek 6-4 F, DJ Heath 6-0 G, Brayden Piatak 5-10 F, Ben Shea 6-1 F
Juniors: Colin Bailer 5-11 G, Brad Bartholomay 6-1 G, Heath Snyder 6-1 F
Sophomores: Jon Conologue 5-10 G, Eli Ferrem 5-5 G, Max Urbas 6-0 F,
Freshmen: Not available
Coach’s Outlook: “We have a brutal preseason schedule but that will help us to compete in our division.”
Player perspective: “We have to avoid injuries and sickness, we can’t afford to lose anyone. If everyone stays healthy and continues to get better and play as a team we will have a very successful year.”
Coach: Bernardo Cruz
Assistant Coaches: Jose Himes
Seniors: Kyle Oleniacz 6-1 F, Alex Rossi 5-11 G, Dylan Schopperth 5-10 G , Sam Stashko 6-2 G, Alex Warriner 6-1 F,
Juniors: Zack Funk 6-3 F, Jakob Lucas 6-1 G, Seth Porter 6-0 F, Levi Smith 5-10 G,
Sophomores: Lukas Cokely 6-1 F, Connor Flynn 5-9, Jamier Robinson 5-8 G, Jack Russell 5-5 G, Julio Sena-Clavijo 5-9 G,
Freshmen: Jude Adams 6-3 F, Sawyer Brown 5-9 G, Andrew Beadle 5-8 G, Brayden Dibble 5-1 G, Max Fisk 5-5 G, Mark Locket 5-6 G, Max Stashko 5-8 G
Player perspective: “Working together and do what each of us do well individually is a key. If we can put those together it will be a huge improvement from past years.” – Sam Stashko
Coach: Joe Gibbons
Assistant Coaches: Jamie Wescott, Casey Jenkins, Robert Weber
Seniors: Carter Bain 6-1 F, Ryan Drake 6-5 F, Tanner Stout 6-1, John Symuleski 6-0 F
Juniors: JJ Anderson 5-9 G, Ethan Drake 5-8 G, Ricardo Hernandez 5-10 G, Riley Jagger 6-2 G/F, Bronson Kilmer 6-3 G/F,
Sophomores: Michael Beach 5-10 G, Zayandre Bradford 5-11 F, Romeo Estevez 5-9 G, Jackson Gesford 5-11 G
Freshmen: Hudson Bain 6-2 G/F, Conner Boylan 5-9 G
Coach’s Outlook: “We will look to remain competitive in a tough Lackawanna League Division 4.
Player perspective: “We have to defend and get better positioning ourselves. We have a lot of guys that can score so we should be pretty balanced.” Tanner Stout.
Coach: Lawrence Tompkins
Assistant Coaches: Jack Beamer, Dave Bell
Juniors: JT Burke 6-0 G, Cooper Payne 5-9 G, Tyler Rockwell 6-0 G/F, Colton Stone 6-4 F,
Sophomores: Matthew Callender 5-10 F, Liam Dooley 5-10 F, Rykin Hobart 6-3 F
Freshmen: Linden Baker 6-0 F, Maxx Kelley 5-6 G, Octavious Nicholson 5-8 G
Coach’s Outlook: “Our goal remains the same; use a competitive non-conference to prepare ourselves to play the best basketball we can during the second half of the season and compete for a Division IV Championship.”
Player perspective: “We’re always practicing to our fullest ability and going 100 percent every rep will become huge come game time. We go a lot of young players and young team this year so pushing ourselves and others is what needs to happen.” Colton Stone