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2018-2019 is the Year of the Bigs for Reporter/Times Herald Boys Basketball

Abington's Eric Dixon brushes past North Penn's Matt Swanson during their game on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)
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Two schools have combined to win the last four boys basketball District 1 championships in the largest classification — Abington and Plymouth Whitemarsh.

The Galloping Ghosts won in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and the Colonials in 2016. Abington beat PW in the championship game in 2015 and 2018 and the semifinals in 2017.

This year those two perennial powers will face at least two times as the Ghosts move into the Suburban One League American Conference.

In addition to the recent team success, Abington and Plymouth Whitemarsh feature arguably the two best players in the area — seniors Eric Dixon and Naheem McLeod.

Plymouth Whitemarsh’s Naheem McLeod pulls up for s jumper during the SOL final game against Central West at Souderton on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Dixon, a 6-foot-7 forward, will be attending Villanova after graduating from Abington.

McLeod, a 7-foot-3 center, will move on to Florida State.

How these two bigs perform when they face each other could play a key role in who wins the SOL American title, Suburban One League postseason tournament and District 1 championship.

In the SOL Continental Conference, defending champs Central Bucks West lost three key players in Jack Reichwein, Collin MacAdams and Shane McCusker. Pennridge, who finished just one game behind in the standings, returns seniors Sean Yoder and Jon Post.

In the Pioneer Athletic Conference, defending league champions Methacton return all but one starter. Led by the league’s biggest player in 6-foot-9 forward Jeff Woodward and knockdown shooter David Duda, the Warriors are primed for another postseason push. Norristown, led by Mikeel Allen and Vernon Tubbs, should challenge Methacton for the league crown.

Pennridge’s Sean Yoder lays up a shot past Wissahickon’s Carmen Ostroski during their game on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Roman Catholic returns as champions of the always-competitive Philadelphia Catholic League. Archbishop Carroll and La Salle each have new coaches this season to try to overtake the Cahillites, who also won a state title last year.

Dock Mennonite, Faith Christian Academy and Lower Moreland all look to have another successful year in the Bicentennial Athletic League. FCA is coming off a District 1 title, Dock returns two four-year starters in Jackson Scialanca and Nolan Bolton and Lower Moreland has high expectations for another 20-win season.

In the Inter-Ac, Germantown Academy will look to bounce back after a down year. Sophomore Jordan Longino is primed for a big season after averaging 21 points as a freshman.

Abington
Head coach: Charles Grasty (9th season)
Last year’s record: 26-4, 14-0 SOL National, SOL National Champions, District One Champions
Key returners: Eric Dixon, Lucas Monroe, Darious Brown, Howard Burrell
Notable losses: Robbie Heath, Brandon Coffman, Xavier Crawford
Outlook: “This year’s team is looking to build from last year’s season. The guys understand how hard they have to work to achieve the goals that they set for themselves.”

Archbishop Carroll
Head coach: Francis Bowe Jr. (1st season)
Last year’s record: 20-8, 10-3 PCL
Key returners: Luke House, Kiyl Mack, Shawn Johnson, Cole Burkitt, Padraig Casey
Notable losses: Keyon Butler, Devon Ferrero, Justin Anderson, AJ Hoggard
Outlook: “The biggest key to success is to build off of the success of last year’s team. Senior leadership will drive this team. The outlook is very bright for the program. Hard work, tenacity on defense, moving the ball on offense and rebounding will drive this team to another successful season!”

Central Bucks East
Head coach: Erik Henrysen (9th season)
Last year’s record: 13-12, 5-7 SOL Continental, district playoff berth
Key returners: Ben Markowitz, Leo Masterson, Nick Roggio
Notable losses: Kyle Cassidy, Collin Stein, Jesse Rivera
Outlook: “This season will hinge on how quickly our inexperienced new comers can acclimate to the speed of the varsity game.”

Central Bucks South
Head coach: Jason Campbell (15th season)
Last year’s record: 14-9, 8-4 SOL Continental
Key returners: Tommy Kuypers, Ian McCaw, Cole Prezelski, Brady Prezelski, Mark Kannengieszer, Alex Dietz
Notable losses: Nate Robinson, Jack Johns
Outlook: “The Titans are looking forward to the upcoming season and want to build from last year’s playoff experience.”

Cheltenham
Head coach: Patrick Fleury (1st season)
Last year’s record: 14-9, 10-4 SOL American, district playoff berth
Key returners: Kyin Healey, Tim Myarick, Zahree Harrison, Brandon Scott
Notable losses: Jack Clark, Ahmab Bickley

Dock Mennonite’s Jackson Scialanca passes during game with Valley Forge Military Academy on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Dock Mennonite
Head Coach: Mike Fergus (42nd season)
Last year’s record: 24-6, 13-4 BAL Presidents, BAL Presidents champs, BAL tournament champs, District 1 finalist
Key returners: Jackson Scialanca, Nolan Bolton, Darius Ellis, Ralph Saint-Fleur, Steve Martin, Troy Vasey
Notable losses: Miz Nyagwegwe, Caleb Pfleiger, Dan Loveless
Outlook: “Dock looks to build on their success while returning a good mix of veterans and newcomers. Four-year starters Scialanca and Bolton provide battle-tested leadership, Ellis provides a major paint presence, Saint- Fleur was last year’s 6th man, and a good group of newcomers and JV graduates provide depth.”

Jenkintown
Head coach: Wes Emme (8th Season)
Last year’s record: 9-15, 7-9 BAL Independence, District berth
Key returners: Trevor Brockwell, Adam Giammanco, Cade Lafferty
Notable losses: Patrick Morrin, Ted Foley, Jacob Schwartz
Outlook: “Our team has a healthy blend of size and experience returning. After a disappointing finish to our season in 2018, and with a large majority of minutes returning, we look forward to the opportunity to compete in our very competitive league and district playoffs. We have several competitive non-league matchups including the rekindling of local rivals like New Hope, Springfield Township, and Upper Moreland along with a trip to the Jersey Shore to battle Mainland Regional and Wildwood High School.”

La Salle
Head coach: Mike McKee (1st season)
Last year’s record: 15-8; 8-5 PCL
Key returners: Zach Crisler, Konrad Kiszka, Allen Powell, Titus Beard, Jack Rothenberg, Khalil Diarrah
Notable losses: Matt McMahon, Sean Simon
Outlook: “With a good group of returning seniors, La Salle looks to improve from last season.”

La Salle’s Zach Crisler goes for a lay up near Lansdale Catholic Luke Godzieba during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Lower Moreland
Head coach: Seth Baron (8th season)
Last year: 20-9, 13-3 BAL Independence. District 1/11 finalist, state berth losing to Overbrook in the first round
Key returners: Joey Cerruti, Shane Cohen, Andrew Finnegan, Jake Himmelstein, Bryce Horn, Forrest Keys, Jordan Zoubroulis
Outlook: “Expectations are high. If we play team basketball and cause the chaos we want to on defense we can have a very strong season.”

Methacton
Head coach: Jeff Derstine (9th season)
Last year’s record: 18-8, 7-3 PAC Liberty. PAC champions
Key returners: David Duda, Jeff Woodward, Marcus Girardo, Brett Eberly, Owen Kropp, Ben Christian, Conor Smith, Aiden Hazlett
Notable losses: Noah Kitaw, Miguel Prince
Outlook: “The 2018-2019 Methacton Warriors return a strong and experienced group of players. Having lost only one starter in Noah Kitaw, the core of this team has been playing together for two full years. David Duda, Jeff Woodward, Brett Eberly, Marcus Girardo, Owen Kropp, Ben Christian, Conor Smith, and Aiden Hazlett gained valuable experience last season and look to provide strong leadership for the team this year. In addition to the returning core, there is a talented group of newcomers led by Junior Erik Timko, that will look to step on the floor and make an immediate impact. We expect the competition in the PAC to be extremely tough and we look forward to challenge of competing against strong opponents all season long!”

Norristown
Head coach: Dana “Binky” Johnson (2nd season)
Last year’s record: 18-10, 7-3 PAC Liberty, PAC playoff berth, District 1 playoff berth, State playoff berth
Key returners: Marcus Sanford, Vernon Tubbs, Mikeel Allen
Notable losses: Darius Hopewell

North Penn
Head coach: John Conrad (8th season)
Last year’s record: 13-12, 6-6 SOL Continental
Key returners: AJ Mitchell, Tali McIver
Notable losses: AJ Catanzaro, Chris Coleman, Joey Lindsay
Outlook: “We hope to be in a position to compete for the conference title and earn a spot in the district playoffs. We have a lot of new faces in the program so it’ll be a challenge getting everyone on the same page and ready to compete.”

North Penn’s AJ Mitchell goes up for a shot past Souderton’s Kavi Ramchandani during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)

Pennridge
Head coach: Dean Behrens (21st season)
Last year’s record: 19-9, 9-3 SOL Continental. Lost in first round of state playoffs
Key returners: Sean Yoder, Jon Post
Notable losses: Brett Henofer, Tyrese Lewis, Mike Molettiere and Ryan Warner
Outlook: Team chemistry, limit turnovers, limit opponents to one shot per possession, solid defense and consistent foul shooting (are keys to success). “There are many players battling for varsity minutes. We are looking for players to step up and prove they belong on the varsity level. We play a very tough schedule again this year.”

Perkiomen Valley
Head coach: Michael Poysden (7th season)
Last year’s record: 13-12, 4-6 PAC Liberty. Advanced to District playoffs, eliminated by Neshaminy in third round.
Key returners: Tyler Strechay, Zack Krause, Aj Hansen, Conner McShea, Ian Streeper, Bryce Streeper
Notable losses: Andrew Light, Carson Parke, Dante Graves, Kevin Bernabe
Outlook: “Although the team lost 4 starters from last season, this year’s group returns much of the scoring. The senior class provides depth and based on their offseason performance and workouts, has high expectations that through hard work they can earn success. We return both size and experience. They enjoy pushing each other to improve and are rising to the task of program leadership. Several underclassmen in Dougherty, Parks, Quinn, and Gansz will be asked to step up and contribute. The PAC should be highly competitive this year with many teams having postseason aspirations.”

Phil-Mont Christian Academy
Head coach: Glenn Dolton (10th season)
Last year’s record: 13-13 overall, 8-8 Bicentennial League, Constitution Conference. District 1 semifinalist.
Key returners: Lyle Tipton, Daniel Olinger, Joshua Blackburn, Rahiim McIntyre, Michael DiBenedetto, Ben Chi, Trevor Tipton, Nathan Blackburn
Notable losses: Joel Schneider, Evan Li
Outlook: “Phil-Mont is very excited about the upcoming season. They open the season at the Oreland Lions Tip-off Tournament against Bishop McDevitt. The Falcons first round opponent in the Wildwood Boardwalk Basketball Classic is Cumberland Regional High School from New Jersey. In addition, the Constitution and Presidents Division of the BAL will present some very stiff competition. There are many teams that are returning very talented players. Each night will be a huge challenge. The team looks to make an appearance in the BAL League Championship Tournament and hopefully a run in the District and State playoffs.”

Plymouth Whitemarsh
Head coach: Jim Donofrio
Last year’s record: 28-2, 14-0 SOL American, SOL American champs, SOL postseason tournament champs, District 1 finalist, state berth
Key returners: Naheem McLeod, Jason Cherry
Notable losses: Ahmin Williams, Ahmad Williams, Ish Horn, Alan Glover, Danny Cooper

Pope John Paul II
Head Coach: Brendan Stanton (1st season)
Last year’s record: 6-16, 4-6 PAC Frontier
Key returners: Tyshyre DeVeaux-Malachi, Chris White, Sean Bustynowicz, Drew McKeon
Notable losses: Aidan McCarthy, Dan Cirino, Vince Viney and Julien Andrews among a total of 12 seniors graduated.
Outlook: “We have an exciting mix of senior leaders and talented underclassmen. For what this team lacks in Varsity experience, they make up for with their competitive spirit and positive energy. When they put it all together this group is capable of great team basketball.”

Quakertown
Head coach: Michael DeCarolis (1st season)
Last year’s record: 6-16, 4-10 SOL American
Key returners: Eli Ortiz, Matt Lucas, Sam Rice,Sean Harrison, Nick Mestayer
Notable losses: Jon Rey, Kevin Juszynski, Grey Mitchell
Outlook: “I am extremely excited for my first year as Head Coach at Quakertown after three seasons of being the Head Coach at Penn State Lehigh Valley. I feel like we are in an extremely competitive league with great coaching, players, and rivalries. I feel like we have the talent and the depth to compete for a District 1 playoff position. I am looking forward to see how our seniors handle their bigger roles and how the sophomores and freshman to perform under the bright lights.”

Springfield-Montco
Head coach: Barry DeVine (2nd season)
Last year’s record: 4-18, 1-13 SOL American
Key returners: Jordan Pauls, Wilson Krewson, Ben Rittenhouse,
Outlook: “With Pauls, Krewson, and Rittenhouse having two years of varsity experience and last year’s starting minutes, they are primed to have breakout years! The addition of three key football players should give us depth and toughness off of the bench, while the energy and skill set of our up and coming young guys will be a bright spot forward. We have an exceptional staff and developmental program, and we are sure to establish winning Spartan basketball for the near future. Our goal is to; be fearless, play hard & smart, to value every passion, every quarter, every game, and finish with a victory. We plan to win the games we are supposed to, and steal a few more! Our theme for this year is #StopsAndBuckets!”

Spring-Ford’s Noah Baker (23) splits a pair of Owen J. Roberts defenders during the second half of the game on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018. (Thomas Nash/Digital First Media)

Spring-Ford
Head coach: Chris Talley (6th season)
Last year’s record: 15-11, 5-5 PAC Liberty
Key returners: Noah Baker, Robert Bobeck, Ryan Hagan, Ronan Bell, Ryan Engro, Dante Bonanni, Patrick Kovaleski
Notable losses: Nestor Diaz, Austin Hokanson, Harrison Pierce
Outlook: “Spring-Ford returns an all-league and all area performer in Senior Noah Baker. Robert Bobeck, Ryan Hagan, Patrick Kovaleski and Tre Medearis all have some Varsity experience which they look to build upon. The focus is to be fundamentally sound and playing our best basketball down the stretch. We look forward to competing in a tough league against teams who have high expectations.”

Upper Dublin
Head coach: Chris Monahan (2nd season)
Last year’s record: 6-16, 4-10 SOL American
Key returners: Bazel Brady, Brian Klammer, Mike Slivka, Corby Watkins, Jason Williams
Notable losses: Nyjee Scott, Cory Stover, Mike Ryan
Outlook: “We lose a lot of production from last year’s team, but we have returning guys who played meaningful minutes last season that are eager and able to replace that. It’s a group that likes to compete and work. Our success depends on our energy and execution on both ends of the floor.”

Upper Merion
Head coach: Jason Quenzer (6th season)
Last year’s record: 4-18, 2-8 PAC Frontier
Key returners: Chris Clark, Lukas Kim, Matt Choi, Nick Shepperd, Dom Breece
Notable losses: Jon Eyer, KJ Pugh
Outlook: “Winning ball games in the PAC always prove tough because the players really develop to play another year and the different systems for each coach are crafted to highlight their strengths and expose your weaknesses. The optimism is high at Upper Merion, despite coming off of a four-win season. Losing always provides an opportunity to learn and it fuels the fire. These guys get a year older and can understand the mental aspect of the game more and more. We just want to keep it simple and focus on the minor details of the game that make a big difference. We are all excited to face the new challenges this year.”

Upper Moreland
Head coach: Sean Feeley (2nd year)
Last year’s record: 9-14 (5-9 SOL American)
Key returners: Christian O’Donnell, Beau Woollens, Tyler Ibbotson, Jahire Johnson
Outlook: “The Upper Moreland Basketball team will have a young group this year. The team will be led by senior captain Christian O’Donnell. The team will look to get better and build some chemistry in the pre-season in hopes it translates to a successful season on the court. The team looks forward to competing on both ends of the floor game in and game out.”

Wissahickon Eddie Fortescue (3) lays up to the basket as Penncrest’s Chris Mills (12) defends in the first quarter of their District 1-5A semifinal at the Liacouras Center on Wedneday, Feb. 28, 2018. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

Wissahickon
Head coach: Kyle Wilson (20th season)
Last year’s record: 19-8, 11-3 SOL American, District 1 semifinalist, state qualifier
Key returners: Eddie Fortescue, Cole Hirsch, Carmen Ostroski, Tyler Caso
Notable losses: Zach Reiner, Max Rapoport, Anthony Lawrence
Outlook: “Wissahickon Boys’ Basketball team is rebuilding after a run in 2018 that took them to the semifinals at Temple and into the state playoffs. The Trojans are fortunate in this rebuilding process in the fact that they return three talented players, and a host of young skilled players. Eddie Fortescue (6’), and Cole Hirsch (6’2”) are two senior starting guards that were impactful players last year, and Carmen Ostroski (6’4”) is a versatile wing that has transitioned from sixth man to a more impactful starting role this off-season. Ostroski has the ability to play from the point to the center position, and he has a silky touch from behind the 3-point line. Fortescue is a player with an endless motor, and he is impressive at both ends of the court. Filling out the roster are two talented senior forwards in Tyler Caso (6’3”) and Maurice Willis (6’5”), and multiple underclassmen guards like Harrison Williams, Matt Compas, Andrew Buck, D’Shan Love, Justin Rappaport, Alex Richman, and Jackson Intrieri. The team hopes to be competitive in a tough conference that matches them up against the tough teams of PW and new conference foe Abington.”

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