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Council Rock North boys basketball rolling right along, despite departures

Council Rock North's Harry Wyatt (12) drives by Truman's Cam Culver (15) in recent battle between the schools in Newtown. (John Gleeson – 21st-Century Media)

NEWTOWN – When a basketball team loses five starters due to graduation, you usually expect a long building season. This year’s Council Rock North squad appears determined to accelerate the whole process.

Last year, the Indians went on a late-season run that saw them miss the district playoffs by one seed. They were led by the likes of Noah Ehlin, James Kosyla and Eric Levine. With five of their top six rotation players going the cap and gown route, however, the Rock knew it would have to reload. So far, they seem ahead of schedule.

Promising newcomer and point guard, D.J. Mischak, described the new-look Indians, “I like our team a lot. We lost a lot of seniors this year but I think we have a really good bond on the team. We all play well together and feed off each other. We are pretty inexperienced but every game we keep getting more and more confident about what we do.”

The opening game of the 2017-18 campaign saw North in a back-and-forth struggle with Central Bucks West. DJ knew how much the Indians wanted to start on a positive note. “That was definitely a game we came out with a lot of fire and played our hearts out. We were very close to winning that game.”

Fueled by Matt McAlister, who led all scorers with 28 points on the night, Council Rock jumped out to a 23-21 halftime lead. Midway through the fourth period, they increased the margin to 40-33. Unfortunately for North fans, the Bucks rallied to tie the game at 45-all and then managed to hold on to win in overtime, 56-53.

Five nights later, the Rock took on another Suburban One League (SOL) foe, Harry S Truman. D.J. felt they had a good sense of what the Tiger’s had in their arsenal. “We had a really good scout coming into the game. We came in with the mindset to keep our composure and poise. We knew we had to stop their shooting guard Jess Nixon and their big center (Kashun Holden). I think we did a good job of shutting them down.”

Unfortunately, the Indians once again fell on the short side of a 45-44 score. D.J. shared his teammates’ disappointment. “After the game, I was a little upset because it was definitely a game we should have won. That was two games where we didn’t execute well at the end and unfortunately, we lost both of them. If we had just made a shot here or there, it could have been a totally different outcome.”

For a team in a building year, D.J. ultimately felt both games showed promise. “When you think about it in the long run, we have a lot of positives that we saw in those games. The few weaknesses are definitely something we can improve on and that should help us toward the end of the season.”

On the plus side, was the Rock’s ability to set up shooting opportunities. “We did a really good job rebounding, which has kind of been a weakness in our first games. I also think we moved the ball very well and got good shots. That is our biggest strength, we move the ball very well and we play very good defense. We run offenses mainly to find open shots.”

The Rock’s offensive style certainly plays to D.J.’s individual strengths. “I mostly play point guard and shooting guard. As a point guard, my responsibility is to be a leader out there and help my teammates out. I run the plays and verbalize.”

DJ’s efforts should help the Indians high scorers Matt McAlister, Brady Haggerty and Harry Wyatt perform at their best. The combination should prove a real force in the SOL.

“I think we have a lot to build on as a team if we keep improving as I’ve seen lately. We’ll keep getting better and better as a team and maybe we’ll make our primary goal, which is to reach playoffs.”

Based on the first few games, the Indians seem primed to turn a building year into another highly successful campaign.

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