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Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery Area Boys Basketball Preview

Plymouth Whitemarsh's Ahmad Williams (Plymouth-Whitemarsh) goes up for a shot against Abington's Joseph O'Brien during their game Feb. 28, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

This year’s District 1-6A tournament could look very similar to last year’s. Abington, Cheltenham and Plymouth Whitemarsh — the three 2017 semifinalists along with Coatesville — all return key players and promise to be the top teams in the Reporter/Times Herald/Montgomery area.

Abington brings back senior guard Robbie Heath and junior forward Eric Dixon. Heath started for the Ghosts district championship teams in 2015 and 2017. Dixon is a tough matchup for any player in the district and is on Villanova’s recruiting radar.

Cheltenham returns plenty from last year’s team and is led by senior guard Jack Clark. Clark, a La Salle commit, is in range once he crosses the timeline.

Plymouth Whitemarsh will look to get to the district final four for the fourth straight season, winning the title in 2016. Senior guards Ahmin Williams and Ahmad Williams are two of the best defenders in the area, senior guard Ish Horn led the offense down the stretch last year and 7-foot junior center Naheem McLeod continues to improve.

Others to watch in the area include Archbishop Wood, Archbishop Carroll, La Salle and Wissahickon. Wood — the defender Catholic League, District 12 and state champions — will lean on Tyree Pickron, Andrew Funk and Seth Pinkney to defend their titles. The other three schools return plenty of talent, such as Carroll’s AJ Hoggard, La Salle’s Zach Crisler and Wissahickon’s Zach Reiner.

North Penn and Upper Merion both appear to be in rebuilding mode. The Knights lost nine seniors from last year’s Suburban One League Continental Conference championship team and the Vikings graduated all of their varsity minutes last season after reaching the District 1 Class-5A finals.

Norristown, Upper Dublin and Upper Moreland will have new faces on the sidelines. Dana “Binky” Johnson takes over as coach for the Eagles, Chris Monahan the Cardinals and Sean Feeley the Golden Bears.

Abington
Coach: Charles Grasty (8th year)
Last Year: 24-5 overall, 12-0 league, SOL National champs, Suburban One League champs, District 1 Champs, State qualifier
Players to Watch: Eric Dixon, Lucas Monroe, Robbie Heath, Darious Brown, Xavier Crawford
Outlook: “We will play a much more unselfish brand of basketball. The guys have team first goals this year.”

Abington’s Eric Dixon lays up a shot in front of North Penn’s Derek Heiserman during their game on Feb. 11, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Archbishop Carroll
Coach: Paul Romanczuk (15th year)
Last Year: 20-9 overall, 7-6 league, State Quarterfinals
Key returnees: Justin Anderson, Keyon Butler, Devon Ferrero, Luke House, Shawn Johnson, AJ Hoggard
Outlook: “Our team is talented & experienced at the guard position & they will certainly lead us. I think our biggest key to success will be how we defend and rebound. We do not possess size on the frontline but we have good overall team size and versatility both defensively and offensively. Our league will certainly be very difficult however I believe we can be a success yet again if we are blessed with good health and our leadership develops.”

Archbishop Wood
Coach: John Mosco (5th year)
Last Year: 28-3 overall, 12-1 league, Catholic League champions, District 12 champions, State champions
Players to Watch: Tyree Pickron, Andrew Funk, Seth Pinkney

Calvary Christian
Last Year: 4-19 overall, 3-14 league

Central Bucks East
Coach: Erik Henrysen (8th year)
Last Year: 13-12 overall, 6-6 league, District playoffs
Players to Watch: Collin Stein, Kyle Cassidy, Nick Roggio
Outlook: “A challenging schedule (including non-league games against Abington, Pennsbury, CR South, Wissahickon, Upper Dublin, Pottsgrove Tip-off and 3 games against national competition in Florida over the holiday) will determine if a 3rd straight district tournament appearance is possible.”

Central Bucks South
Coach: Jason Campbell (14th year)
Last Year: 9-13 overall, 5-7 league
Players to Watch: Nate Robinson, Jack Johns, Tommy Kuypers, Cole Prezelski, Brady Prezelski
Outlook: “The Titans will look to compete in the Continental Conference and rely on each other to steer the team against quality opponents every night. We are looking to be an aggressive defensive team and provide a balanced offensive attack that is going to carry the traditions and expectations of prior C.B. South teams by playing hard, smart, and unselfish team play.”

Central Bucks West
Coach:  Adam Sherman (17th year)
Last Year: 15-8 overall, 9-3 league, District 1 playoffs
Players to Watch: Collin MacAdams, Jake Reichwein, Shane McCusker
Outlook: We are looking forward to competing in the always competitive Continental Conference.

Cheltenham
Coach: John Timms (5th year)
Last Year: 19-7 overall, 11-3 league, District 1 semifinals, State qualifier
Players to Watch: Jack Clark, Ahmad Bickley, Amir Lewis, Kyin Healey
Outlook: “With three starters returning we’re looking to build on our playoff experience and get back to the district final four. Communication on defense is the key with this team. We must rebound as a collective group and value possession. If we can master those two things, I believe we can be better than last years team. This is by far the best shooting team we’ve had here at Cheltenham since I’ve been here. We expect to be competing for our league title and advancing to the final four in districts.”

Cheltenham’s Ahmad Bickley goes for a shot past Coatesville’s Kamau Brickus during their game Feb. 28, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Dock Mennonite
Coach: Mike Fergus (41st year)
Last Year: 16-11 overall, 11-6 league, District finalist, State qualifier
Players to Watch: Misrahim Nyagwegwe, Jackson Scialanca, Nolan Bolton, Caleb Pfleiger
Outlook: “Dock returns a solid nucleus, with three three-year starters and playoff experience. Solid players up from successful JV should add depth and size.”

Faith Christian
Last Year: 27-5 overall, 15-1 league, BAL finals, District finals, State semifinals

Germantown Academy
Coach: Jim Fenerty (29th year)
Last Year: 22-7 overall, 8-2 league, Inter-Ac champs, Private School State Playoffs Final Four
Players to Watch: Brian Basile, Jordan Keys, Colten Smith
Outlook: “Climbing the mountain carries with it some bumps along the way BUT when you reach the Mountain Top, the view is even better! We are an extremely young team but there is talent and great attitudes. We have a very difficult pre-season schedule that will be followed by a very talented and experienced group of teams in the Inter-Ac. Our goal is to get better each day!”

Hatboro-Horsham
Coach: Ed Enoch (4th year)
Last Year: 12 -10 overall, 8-6 league
Players to Watch: Chris Edwards, Kyle Hogan, Eric Dixon, Solomon McNair
Outlook: “We will have to make up for the scoring we lost to graduation. We will have to improve defensively, rebound better, and learn to win close games.”

Jenkintown
Coach: Wes Emme (7th year)
Last Year: 16-10 overall, 12-4 league. State qualifier, District semifinals
Players to Watch: Trevor Brockwell, Patrick Morrin
Outlook: “Depending on a lot of new faces to the Varsity floor including Juniors Cade Lafferty and Adam Giammanco. Overall team size is a strength thus far. Overall guard play will be our biggest question mark especially how quickly they develop. Will rely heavily on the experience of Brockwell and Morrin in the early parts of the season. Looking to be healthy and prepared come playoff time.”

Lansdale Catholic
Last Year: 10-12 overall, 3-10 league

La Salle
Coach: Joe Dempsey (15th year)
Last Year: 11-12 overall, 5-8 league
Players to Watch: Zach Crisler, Allen Powell, Sean Simon, Konrad Kiszka
Outlook: “We only graduated two seniors from last year’s team. In theory we have a lot of experience returning. Talent won’t be our issue. We will work on making our guys mentally and physically tough, as well as helping them to understand how important our culture and our chemistry are to our team. If we can learn from our non-league schedule, and carry those lessons with us, we can win our share of games and see where that takes us.”

La Salle’s Zach Crisler goes for two as St. Joseph’s Prep’s Ed Croswell defends during their game on Feb. 3, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Lower Moreland
Coach: Seth Baron (7th year)
Last Year: 9-16 overall, 6-10 league, District 1 playoffs
Players to Watch: Dan Shimon, Shane Cohen, Forrest Keys, Jake Himmlestein, Bryce Horn, Jordan Zoubroulis, Joey Cerruti, Andrew Finnegan
Outlook: Chemistry will be the key with many new faces vying for starting positions.  Even scoring will be important but Lower Moreland will rest their heads on great team defense.

Methacton
Coach: Jeff Derstine (8th year)
Last Year: 12-12 overall, 9-4 league, PAC playoffs, District playoffs
Players to Watch: Noah Kitaw, David Duda, Jeff Woodward
Outlook: “The 2017-2018 Methacton Warriors are a young and hungry group of players! Despite losing 8 seniors to graduation, this team has worked hard throughout the offseason to prepare for the upcoming season. The trio of David Duda, Jeff Woodward, and Noah Kitaw gained valuable experience last season and look to provide strong leadership this season. Additionally, there is a strong group of newcomers looking to build on their JV success from last season! As always, we expect the PAC to be very tough and we look forward to challenge of a competing against strong competition all season long!”

New Hope-Solebury
Last Year: 14-11 overall, 9-7 league, District 1/11 playoffs

Norristown
Coach: Dana “Binky” Johnson (1st year)
Last Year: 14-13 overall, 8-5 league, PAC Final Four, District 1 playoffs

North Penn
Coach: John Conrad (7th year)
Last Year: 21-7 overall, 13-1 league
Players to Watch: Chris Coleman, AJ Mitchell, Joey Lindsay, AJ Catanzaro
Outlook: “We hope to be in a position to compete for the conference title and earn a spot in the district playoffs. Replacing 9 seniors will be a challenge.”

Pennridge
Coach: Dean Behrens (20th year)
Last Year: 11-12, lost to Downingtown West in first round of districts
Players to Watch: Sean Yoder, Jon Post, Tyrese Lewis-Eutsey
Outlook: Defense and rebounding are concerns. To be successful: Team chemistry, limit turnovers, limit opponents to one shot per possession, solid defense, and consistent foul shooting – looking for players to add depth to our team. Looking for players to step up and earn varsity minutes.

Pennridge’s Sean Yoder lays up a shot past Souderton’s Noah Horas during their game on Dec. 22,2016. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Perkiomen Valley
Coach: Michael Poysden (6th year)
Last Year: 23-7 overall, 11-2 league, PAC champs, District playoffs, State qualifier
Players to Watch: Andrew Light, Tyler Strechay, Dante Graves
Outlook: “This years team is looking forward to working hard and meeting the challenge of constant improvement. Graduating three starters who have started for three straight years normally would be a large deficit to overcome, however in both the junior and freshman class there is a considerable depth of talent. Senior leadership in Bernabe, Graves, Light, and Parke as well as the experience gained last year by Strechay will be an integral part of our success. The PAC this year looks to be highly competitive where on any given night either team can win. This should make for an exciting season where every game will have playoff implications.”

Phil-Mont Christian
Coach: Glenn Dolton (9th season)
Last Year: 6-18 overall, 5-11 league, District playoffs
Players to Watch: Joel Schneider, Lyle Tipton, Daniel Olinger, Jaylen Henderson, Michael DiBenedetto
Outlook: “Phil-Mont is very excited about the upcoming season. They open the season at the Oreland Lions Tip-off Tournament. The Falcons will also play in the William Tennent Holiday Classic. In addition, the Constitution and Presidents Division of the BAL will present some very stiff competition. The team looks to make an appearance in the BAL League Championship Tournament and hopefully a run in the District and State play-offs.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh
Coach: Jim Donofrio (20th year)
Last Year: 25-6 overall, 14-0 league, Suburban One League American Champs, Suburban One League runner-up, District semifinals, State quarterfinals
Players to Watch: Ahmin Williams, Ahmad Williams, Ish Horn, Naheem McLeod, Danny Cooper, Alan Glover
Outlook: “We return a number of experienced players and have our goals set to compete for league, district, and state titles.”

Pope John Paul II
Coach: Matt Rafferty (2nd year)
Last Year: 3-19 overall, 0-13 league
Players to Watch: Aidan Carthy, Daniel Cirino, Ricky Bearden, Vincent Viney, Luke Roth, Matthew Cressman, Matthew Delaurentis, Julien Andrews, Joey Catalano, Shane McConnell, Colt Narciso.
Outlook: “We are competing every day to win the day. Whether it is in practice or a game, our sole focus is to win the day. We know the league will not be easy because of the great coaching and talented teams that the PAC has.”

Spring-Ford
Last Year: 19-9 overall, 11-2 league, PAC Finals, District playoffs

Souderton
Last Year: 9-13 overall, 5-7 league.

Upper Dublin
Coach: Chris Monahan (1st year)
Last Year: 4-18 overall, 3-11 league
Players to Watch: Nyjee Scott, Cory Stover, Mike Ryan, Ian McGonagle, Ryan Besachio, Corby Watkins, Joey Ryan
Outlook: “We expect this team to train hard everyday in practice and compete hard everyday in practice. Our success will depend on how well we can defend and rebound the ball.”

Upper Merion
Coach: Jason Quenzer (5th year)
Last Year: 17-12 overall, PAC Final Four, District 1 finals, State Qualifier
Players to Watch: Austin Moucer, TyJay Shepherd, Matt Choi, Chris Clark, Nick Shepperd, Lukas Kim
Outlook: “After a nice season, making it to the 5A district finals and the second round of the 5A state playoffs, the Vikings graduate all of their minutes from last year. This crew is composed of a young nucleus but there are some talented, hard working, senior leaders that will allow this team to compete on a night in/night out basis. The more game experience that these guys get, the more they will grow up and gel.”

Upper Moreland
Coach: Sean Feeley (1st year)
Last Year: 12-11 overall, 6-8 league, District 1 qualifier
Players to Watch: Ryan Coyle, Jake Villanueva, Brett Brossman, Christian O’Donnell
Outlook: “We look forward to playing very hard and having intensity night in and night out and doing the little things well.”

Upper Moreland’s Ryan Coyle drives past Wissahickon’s Shane Ford during Jan. 31, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

William Tennent
Coach: Robert Mulville
Last Year: 5-17 overall, 1-11 league
Players to Watch: Markeith Baxter, Pat McCauley, David West
Season Outlook: The team will be looking to rely on its depth to compete in the league. Baxter, McCauley, and West should provide much-needed experience.

Wissahickon
Coach:
Kyle Wilson (19th year).
Last Year: 15-12, 10-4 league, District quarterfinals, State qualifier.
Players to Watch: Zach Reiner, Max Rapoport, Eddie Fortescue, Anthony Lawrence, Donovan Oliphant.
Outlook: “Although considerable losses occurred in the lineup, this group hopes to compete for league title, and return to district and states. Seniors Zach Reiner and Max Rapoport have been starters since their sophomore year, and they bring leadership that few teams can match. Eddie Fortescue and Anthony Lawrence are two hungry players that saw some time on the floor last year, and they are ready to make considerable contributions. It should be an exciting season.”

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