The Main Line high school boys’ basketball scene includes some squads that are coming off strong campaigns in the winter of 2014-15, such as Archbishop Carroll (PIAA Class AAA state runnerup), Conestoga (22-7), Friends’ Central (20-8) and Episcopal Academy (second place in the InterAc).
Barrack Hebrew Academy, coming off a strong 2014-15 season, should be an interesting team to watch this winter, under the leadership of first-year head coach Jeremy Treatman, who was the school’s head coach two decades ago and was a Lower Merion assistant for several years.
Here is a beginning-of-season look at the Main Line high school boys’ basketball teams for the 2015-16 campaign:
Head coach: Paul Romanczuk, 13th year.
Last year’s record: 21-7 overall, 11-2 Catholic League, lost in PIAA Class AAA state championship final.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior guard Josh Sharkey, 6-4 senior guard/forward Ryan Daly, 6-3 senior guard John Rigsby.
Others to watch: 6-7 senior forward Miks Antoms, 6-4 junior guard Colin Daly, 6-3 junior guard Khari Williams, 6-6 junior forward Jesse McPherson, 6-6 senior forward Alex House, 5-10 sophomore guard Zaheem Garrett.
Lost to graduation: forward Derrick Jones (playing basketball for UNLV); forward/center Ernest Aflakpui (playing basketball for Temple), guard Samir Taylor, guard Damone Jones, guard Kuan-Hsien Liao.
Outlook: Romanczuk sees the Patriots’ biggest strengths as depth and experience at the guard position, and its biggest challenge an inexperienced frontcourt.
The Patriots’ coach sees Carroll’s toughest league foes as Roman Catholic and Neumann-Goretti, and said, “The keys to our success this season will be playing good aggressive defense, taking care of the basketball, and solid interior play.”
Barrack Hebrew Academy
Head coach: Jeremy Treatman, first year.
Last year’s record: 13-8 overall, 9-3 Tri-County League.
Key returnees: 6-2 senior guard Elliot Bernstein, 5-10 senior guard Dave Gordon, 5-10 senior guard Jake Gordon, 6-2 senior center Yossi Weitzman, 5-9 guard Zach Lipstein, 5-9 senior guard Sammy Tolub.
Others to watch: 6-1 sophomore forward Gabe Bryant.
Lost to graduation: senior forward Cory Barnet, senior forward Avi Solomon, senior center Or Ayash, senior forward Michael Zlotnick.
Outlook: Treatman said, “We are a guard-oriented dribble-drive offense that can attack the basket, play at a fast tempo, knock down threes and play intense man-to-man defense and pressurized defense.
“I think we’ll have to defend [well against] the best teams in our league and develop front-court depth. We will be undersized and offensively challenged. We are stressing ball security and getting more shot opportunities than our opponents.”
Treatman was the Akiba Hebrew Academy head coach in 1995 (posting a 14-12 record), and the Akiba junior varsity coach from 1992-1994. He also served as an assistant on the Lower Merion boys’ basketball team during their 1996 state championship season and was the Lower Merion freshman boys basketball coach the past few years, posting a 44-21 record with two league championships. Joining Treatman on the Barrack coaching staff this winter is Lower Merion basketball Hall of Famer Kevin Lonesome.
“It’s amazing to be back at Barrack Hebrew,” said Treatman. “The last time I was here, I worked across from [former Sixer] Joe Bryant [who was the Akiba girls coach] and saw a young Kobe Bryant for the first time. I have learned a ton [about basketball] in the last 20 years as an announcer, coach and promoter. I want to help win a Tri-County League title. I’m also excited about coaching [a Barrack game] at the Wells Fargo Center Feb. 10 against Kohelet.”
Head coach: Mike Troy, 10th year.
Last year’s record: 22-7.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior point guard Daryl Caldwell, 6-1 senior guard MJ Lezanic, 6-1 senior guard Andrew Larkin, 6-3 junior forward Charlie Martin.
Others to watch: 6-5 senior center Jack Baker, 6-4 junior center Angus Mayock, 6-0 junior guard Scott Shapiro, 5-10 senior guard Lucas Yonda.
Lost to graduation: guard Andrew Diehl (competing in track at Princeton), forward Martin Dorsey (playing football for Holy Cross), center Jack Lambert (playing at Dennison), guard James Vandeventer (playing at Ithaca), center Dan Vila (playing at Johns Hopkins).
Outlook: Troy, who lists the Pioneer’s biggest strengths as team speed, shooting and unselfishness, said, “Our keys to the season will be our success on the defensive end, winning the battle of the boards, and being able to control the tempo of the game. We lost a lot of players to graduation, so replacing that experience and having everyone step up and do their roles [will be important]. [Regarding the toughest Central League teams to beat], Ridley, Lower Merion, and Upper Darby will be in the mix.”
Head coach: Jason Fisher, third year.
Last year’s record: 12-10.
Key returnees: 5-8 junior point guard Daniel Shannon, 6-6 senior center Danny Brace.
Lost to graduation: Jack Hegarty, Andrew Walheim, Andrew Shannon.
Outlook: Fisher sees the Tides’ biggest strength as flexibility: “We have a lot of new players who decided to play basketball this year. Those guys, coupled with the returning players, give us a lot of options. … [Our success this season] will depend on how quickly the new guys can learn, and then [how well] all of the guys gel together.”
Head coach: Craig Conlin, sixth year.
Last year’s record: 17-7 overall, 8-2 InterAc (second place).
Key returnees: 6-7 junior forward Nick Alikakos, 6-1 senior guard Matt Woods, 6-0 junior guard Conner Delaney.
Others to watch: 6-0 senior guard Kyle Sacchetta, 6-6 junior forward Jack O’Connell, 6-2 junior forward Jermaine Rhoden, 6-5 junior forward Kyle Virbitsky, 6-6 sophomore forward Colin Phillips.
Lost to graduation: guard Mike Jolaoso (playing for West Chester University), guard Mike Hinckley (playing for Dickinson).
Outlook: Conlin lists EA’s biggest strengths as “unity, pride, work ethic and [basketball] IQ” and said, “The key to our team’s success will be to play hard, play smart and play together.”
Head coach: Ryan Tozer, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 20-8 overall 7-2 Friends Schools League
Key returnees: 6-7 senior forward De’Andre Hunter, 6-2 senior guard Chuck Champion, 5-11 junior point guard Antone Walker, 6-2 senior guard Steve Folwell.
Others to watch: 6-0 freshman guard Bryce Spriggs, 6-3 freshman forward Myles Robinson, 6-4 sophomore forward Toure Mosley-Banks, 6-4 sophomore forward Chris Palmieri, 6-4 sophomore forward Jordan Friday.
Lost to graduation: guard Jonathan Lawton (playing basketball at St. Thomas Aquinas), forwards Ardon Fryer and Dan Yosipovitch.
Outlook: Tozer sees the Phoenix’s biggest strength as De’Andre Hunter, a University of Virginia commit. “[Hunter] is one of the most versatile and offensively skilled players in the area if not the country,” said Tozer. “His ability to create for himself and for his teammates with be a major factor in the success of the Phoenix this season. …. [We] will rely heavily on De’Andre Hunter, Chuck Champion (Loyola commit), and Steven Folwell for leadership and play this season. Champion’s ability to shoot and stretch defenses and Folwell’s solid all-around play help compliment [Hunter]. Antone Walker will be a major key to running the offense and setting up his teammates. [We] will need major contributions on the defensive end from Bryce Spriggs and Myles Robinson as well as Toure Mosley-Banks. If our guys commit on the defensive end and rebound as a team we will be able to push the ball in transition. We will look to spread the floor, to give De’Andre and Chuck room to operate and to create space for Antone to penetrate and kick to his teammates. If we play unselfish team basketball and play hard on the defensive end we will be in every game with a chance to win. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
Head coach: Jesse Rappaport, ninth year.
Last year’s record: 10-12 overall, 6-10 Central League.
Key returnees: 5-10 junior guard Will Esposito, 6-3 senior forward Montgomery Brown.
Others to watch: 5-10 junior guard Idris Ransom, 5-8 point guard Jermaine Brokenborough.
Lost to graduation: center Sam Schliting (playing football at Colgate), 6-4 power forward Ethan Andersen, 6-1 point guard Jordan Wright (playing at Delaware State), 6-2 guard Jesse Bregman, 6-0 guard Jake Firestone.
Outlook: Rappaport, who lists the Rams biggest strengths as quickness and determination, said, “Our team is very small, we need to rebound and be in great defensive position. On offense we need to play with space and pace. [I think] the Central League is the toughest public school league in the state every year, but I would say [the teams to beat are] Lower Merion, Ridley and Haverford.”
Head coach: Keith Heinerichs, fifth year.
Last year’s record: 10-12 overall, 9-7 Central League.
Key returnees: 6-3 senior forward Connor Gulfoil, 5-8 senior guard Jack Donaghy.
Others to watch: 6-2 senior forward Pat Corbett, 6-2 senior forward Jamie Gillen, 5-10 junior guard Matt Corbett, 6-2 sophomore forward Isaiah Hart.
Lost to graduation: Five seniors from last year’s team who played a lot of minutes – Sean Kauffman, Ryan Brown, Joe Ghisu, Jim Roe and Sean McClatchy.
Outlook: Heinerichs said, “Right now, our [biggest] strength would be that the team shares the ball well. The keys [to our success] will be how much we improve as a group with such a short time of practice with all the players. We need to be able to take care of the ball to make sure we get a shot every time down the floor and win the rebounding edge each night.” Heinerichs sees Lower Merion and Ridley as the toughest foes in the Central League this season.
Head coach: Bernie Rogers, first year.
Last year’s record: 17-11.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior guard Micah Sims, 6-2 senior forward Tom McNamara, 6-6 senior forward Jack Marshall, 6-1 junior guard Josh Ridenhour.
Others to watch: 6-0 sophomore guard Kharon Randolph, 5-8 sophomore guard Joe Dignazio.
Lost to graduation: Shawn Alston (Temple), Derek Mountain (Holy Cross).
Outlook: According to Rogers, the Fords are a young and relatively inexperienced group that is working hard to get better each day. He added that the team is versatile and looking to play both ends of the court as a team. Rogers sees Germantown Academy and Episcopal Academy as the toughest teams to beat in the InterAc.
Head coach: Gregg Downer, 26th year.
Last year’s record: 17-12, lost to league champ Ridley in Central League championship semifinal; lost in first round of PIAA state tourney.
Key returnees: 5-10 senior guard Kyle Helton, 6-8 senior center Jeremy Horn, 6-5 junior forward Dion Harris, 6-3 junior guard Terrell Jones.
Others to watch: 6-0 junior guard Noah Fennell, 6-3 freshman forward Jack Forrest.
Lost to graduation: The Aces lost four starters, three of which are playing Division 3 ball – Corey Sherman and Jule Brown at Dickinson, Asher Barry at DeSales.
Outlook: Downer said, “Our team has decent size and length, and has hungry players ready to honor the jersey. For the first time since I’ve been here, five freshmen made the varsity team, which should set the stage for a very bright future. The key to our success this season will be having guys with minimal experience play well quickly-with no stars. We will need to have a balanced attack. Our biggest challenges this year to overcome will be inexperience and depth. I think Ridley is the team to beat in the Central League this year.”
Head coach: John Harmatuk, third year.
Last year’s record: 16-16 overall; 4-6 InterAc; lost to Friends Central in first round of PAISAA tournament.
Key returnees: 6-0 senior guard Will Powers, 6-3 junior guard Ray Baran, 6-0 junior guard Tommy Wolfe, 6-6 senior post Mike Hollingsworth.
Others to watch: 5-9 senior guard Mike Narzikul, 6-5 sophomore post Billy Corcoran, 6-0 sophomore guard Brady Devereaux, 5-10 freshman guard Tygee Leach.
Lost to graduation: guard Chris Anderson (playing basketball for Lebanon Valley), guard Joey Fitzpatrick (playing basketball for Johns Hopkins).
Outlook: Harmatuk, who sees his team’s biggest strengths as depth and guard play, said, “Our key to success this season will not only be our ability to wear opponents down with our defense, but also to turn our defense into offense.”
Head coach: Chris Monahan, fifth year.
Last year’s record: 6-16 overall, 2-14 Central League.
Key returnees: 6-5 senior wing Jake Bodenger, 6-1 senior wing Billy Donahue, 6-0 senior guard Alex Hino, 6-0 senior guard Vinnie Kelly, 5-9 senior guard Mike Li, 6-3 junior guard Mason Ressler, 6-1 junior guard Jack Thompson.
Others to watch: 6-0 junior guard Sami Ghazzi, 6-0 junior guard Phil Regan, 6-0 junior guard Tommy Webb.
Outlook: According to Monahan, the Red Raiders have an experienced group of juniors and seniors, although they lost 6-4 junior starting forward Thomas Mogan to transfer. Li, Bodenger and Kelly are attracting interest from colleges, and junors Ressler and Thompson started games as sophomores.
Regarding the rest of the Central League, Monahan said, “[Conestoga’s] Caldwell and [Ridley’s] Foster are two good guards to watch. Ridley, Stoga, and Penncrest should be toward the top of the league, and you can’t ever count out Lower Merion. Strath Haven should be much improved.”
Head coach: Phil D’Ambrosio, fourth year.
Last year’s record: 14-10 overall, 5-4 Friends Schools League.
Key returnees: 6-4 senior guard Arvelle Jones, 5-9 junior guard Kiyon Hardy, 5-10 sophomore guard Sam Sessoms, 6-4 senior forward Pete Sobelman.
Others to watch: 6-5 senior center Amir Fluellen, 5-11 senior guard Micah Salamon, 6-2 sophomore forward Ronan Higgins.
Lost to graduation: point guard John Parker, guard Quamier Johnson (PSU Brandywine), guard Sebastian Pepper, forward Kevin Zwolak (PSU Brandywine), forward Josh Gorrell (PSU Brandywine).
Outlook: D’Ambrosio said, “Our guards will carry us on both sides of the floor. [Our biggest strength is] our ability to dribble, penetrate and make good decisions with the basketball. … How well we defend and rebound will determine our season. We have some offensive firepower, however, it will be our defensive prowess that sets us apart. That defensive pressure starts at the point. Some challenges we may face will be on the interior. We do not have as much size as some of the teams on our schedule, so our toughness must be through the roof in order to compete.”