Mercury Area 2015-2016 Boys Basketball Preview


Coach: Mike Ludwig, seventh season.

Last year: 8-5 PAC-10, 14-10 overall. Lost to Pottsgrove in PAC-10 semifinals, Advanced to District 1-AAAA playoffs (lost to Coatesville in first round).

Players to watch: Ben Longacre, Sr., 6-2; Eric Spohn, Sr., 5-10; Jerry Kapp, So., 6-3 (9.71 ppg); Marcus Thomas, So., 6-1.

Outlook: Bears lose a slew of seniors from last year’s team that advanced to the PAC-10 Final Four for the first time since the 2009-2010 season in Kyle Dennin, Christian Smith (7.0 ppg), Rob Merwarth (8.4 ppg) and Colton Moyer but return team-leading scorer in Kapp (42 3-pointers) and senior guard Longacre to the fold. “We lost some key pieces to their run into the PAC-10 and district playoffs last season,” Ludwig said. “However, we return a healthy mix of steady upperclassmen and talented underclassmen who hope to keep the team competing for a league playoff spot and a district berth.”

Coach: Ian Gendreau, fourth season

Last year: 0-10 Berks I, 1-21 overall.

Players to watch: Jake Kuhn, Sr., 5-8 (9.8 ppg); Ryan Okuniewski, Jr., 5-10 (10.7 ppg); Ian Rathgeb, Jr., 6-0; Ty Dorang, Jr., 5-8; Kyle Stroble, Jr., 6-1 (13.5 ppg at West-Mont Christian); Kaleb Marshall, Jr., 6-2 (Pine Forge Academy transfer).

Outlook: Season didn’t as planned in 2014 as Blazers finished below .500 in Berks 1 for the second consecutive season. Bright spots on the team return as Kuhn and Okuniewski return after successful stints last season, Okuniewski hoisting a team-high 37 3-pointers. Rathgeb has seen his strength increase from football and should be valuable at forward with versatile guard Dorang joining the fold. Stroble, a standout for West-Mont Christian last season, transfers to the Blazers after leading his team with 39 3-pointers. “Success will be determined on how well we are able to step up and guard bigger, stronger teams,” Gendreau said. “Size will be a concern and we’ll need to balance it with good outside shooting.”


Coach: Seth Eilberg, 15th season.

Last year’s record: 3-2 MAPL, 20-7 overall. Second place finish MAPL. Advanced to quarterfinals of PAISAA state playoffs after earning No. 1 seed.


Players to watch: Bryce Allen, Sr., 5-11 (9.3 ppg); Seth Stankiewicz, Sr., 6-2 (10.4 ppg); Jay Carter, Jr., 6-2; Solomon Ruddell Jr., 7-1.

Outlook: The Hill finished with a 20-win season for the second straight year and will look to continue that success with Allen (3-time All-MAPL) and Stankiewicz (Bentley commit) returning to the Blues’ backcourt. Ruddell has grown since last season, now standing at 7-1 and has been touted as highly improved from Eilberg. Eilberg was also high on returning guards Ethan Norton, DaQuan Morris, Jack Woepke and Mac Gallagher, who should add perimeter depth. Newcomers include dynamic guard Chase Audige and Lithuanian forward Jonas Stakeliunas. “We can really push the ball and have a lot of ways to score,” Eilberg said. “The key to our success will be how tough we can become defensively and on the glass.”


Coach: Jeff Derstine, sixth season.

Barry Taglieber - For The Phoenix Methacton's Patrick O'Neill (15) puts up shot while being watched by Phoenixville's Avery Close.

Last year’s record: 12-1 PAC-10, 25-6 overall. PAC-10 Champions, Advanced to second round of PIAA-AAAA playoffs

Outlook: Warriors lose critical components from last year’s PIAA team — including the versatile Justin Ardman (13.7 pgg), big-man Chris McCarthy (13.1 ppg), guard Sean Mann (10.1 ppg) and Tom Dyer (10.4 ppg) — that leaves team with unproven talent. O’Neill saw time in each varsity game last season and hoisted up eight 3-pointers. He’ll be a key returner for a group that Derstine touted as “hard-working and committed.” Derstine also keyed in on Mike Trakofler, Tom Neugebauer, Jerry Cerchio, Ethan Jones, Andrew Pisano, Brett Marburger, Liam Malachowski and Shamus Shields as players to look out for this season. “This year’s roster includes six seniors, along with numerous underclassman who are ready and eager to establish their own identity as a team,” Derstine said. “I believe our guys understand that every game in the PAC-10 will be a battle and they are looking forward to the opportunities and challenges of the upcoming season.”

Coach: Kevin Kirby, third season (fourth overall).


Last year’s record: 5-8 PAC-10, 11-11 overall.

Players to watch: Mitch Bradford, Sr., 5-9; Avery McDougal, Sr., 6-5; Justin Cervi, 5-10 Jr., Bobby Walker, Jr., 5-8 (8.3 ppg). Dawson Stuart, So., 6-4.

Outlook: Team loses leading scorers in Ryan Michener (10.0 ppg) and Morgan Bailey (8.0 ppg) but returns Walker who scored in double figures in nine of the team’s games. Bradford returns for his senior season after averaging 4.1 ppg last year with McDougal returning at center for the Wildcats. Sophomores Sean Praweckyj, Justin Bailey and freshman Sa’Vaughn Davidheiser should also be interesting pieces to look out for in 2015. “We have a great deal of young kids without much varsity experience that we will rely on this year,” Kirby said. “The good news is that we also have some quality returning players who can hopefully easy the transition for our inexperienced guys. I have been very fortunate to come to practice everyday and be met by a group of young men who are working hard to get better and earn playing time. How quickly our young guys can adapt to the physical and athletic play at the varsity level will ultimately determine how successful we are this year.”


Coach: Mark Longstreth, seventh season.

Last year’s record: 11-10 overall.

Players to watch: Isaiah Armstrong, Sr., 6-7; Ja’ren Hampton, Sr., 6-6; Martynas Simanavicius (13.4 ppg), Sr., 6-3; Josh Cruz, Jr., 6-0; Miles Longstreth, Jr., 5-9.

Outlook: Team returns leading scorer in Simanavicius and Armstrong at center with Cruz and Longstreth looking to solidify the Perkiomen backcourt. Hampton, senior Bill Finnegan and junior Aidan O’Brien figure to get time at forward with sophomores Bryce Noel and Seamus Finnegan returning at guard for a squad that Longstreth lauded for its versatility and depth.


Coach: Mike Poysden, fourth season.

Perkiomen Valley's Sean Moriarity passes the ball past Norristown's Darryl Carr and Roy Green. Thursday, January 29, 2015.
Perkiomen Valley’s Sean Moriarity passes the ball past Norristown’s Darryl Carr and Roy Green. Thursday, January 29, 2015.

Last year’s record: 4-9 PAC-10, 6-16 overall.

Players to watch: Ethan Hodson, Sr., 5-10; Sean Moriarity, Sr., 6-2 (6.6 ppg); Cullen O’Conner, Sr., 6-2; Justin Jaworski, Jr., 6-1 (12.1 ppg); Hogan Millheim, Jr., 6-1; Sean Owens, Jr., 5-10;

Outlook: Vikings look to build on the experience gained from last season but must do so without the presence of first team all-leaguer in Tyler Krause (19.9 ppg) who graduated last spring. Team returns Jaworski and Moriarity who were key pieces to last year’s team and will look to lead this season. Jaworski’s 40 3-pointers were a team-high last season. Owens and Hodson will also get time in the backcourt with O’Connor looking to build off a season where he saw time in 21 of the team’s 22 games. “With a very productive offseason, we are hoping to be highly competitive in every contest,” Poysden said. “The commitment to improve each day in practice and our senior leadership will be integral to our success. We are looking forward to having a deeper, more experienced bench.”


Coach: Eric Burnett, second season.


Last year’s record: 10-3 PAC-10, 18-8 overall. Lost to Methacton in PAC-10 Final Four semifinals. Advanced to District 1-AAAA second round.

Players to watch: Jeff Conboy, Sr., 6-5; Christian Kelly, Sr., 6-4 (21.9 ppg, Mercury All-Area Player of the Year, needs 200 points for 1,000 career); Marquise McDuffee, Sr., 5-10; Matt Mclaughlin, Sr., 6-5; Shyheim Abernathy, Jr., 6-3; Avery Close, Jr., 6-5.

Outlook: Team loses Mike Anthony (9.0 ppg) and DeAndre Gadsden (14.1 ppg) but return a bevy of players that will look to have Phantoms in the running for a PAC-10 title. Kelly (a Division I or II recruit) returns after a standout performance last season, finishing second in the PAC in points per game, only behind Pottstown’s Rich Duvivier. McDuffee returns to run the point with Conboy and Mclaughlin the bigs for the Phantoms. Burnett was also high on juniors Hunter Herschell, Abernathy, Close, Nasir Green and Phil Mesaros, all who he plans on having solid performances this season. Team opens up its schedule with difficult non-league tests against Penncrest, Downingtown West, Academy Park and Bonner Prendergast.


Coach: Jack Flanagan, sixth season.


Last year’s record: 4-9 PAC-10, 9-14 overall. Advanced to District 1-AAA playoffs.

Players to watch: Rich Dunham, Sr., 5-10; Eric Wood, Sr., 6-3; Robbie Girone, Sr.; Luke Moratelli, Sr.; Adam Donmoyer, Sr.; Charlie Vasas, Sr.; Francis Interante, Jr.

Outlook: Golden Panthers graduated leading scorer and Mercury All-Area honoree Mike Cianciulli (16.8 ppg) while leading 3-point shooter Nick Giampietro (15.8 ppg) also departed along with Johnny Warner and Josh Pisano. Dunham had a productive year for PJP, averaging 12.3 ppg with 26 3-pointers and will figure to be a key leader for the team this season. “PJP is ready to play hard, play smart, and play together this year,” Flanagan said. “We will need to focus on all of the little things and emphasize the fundamentals to be successful and move forward this year. The PAC-10 will surely be competitive with all 10 teams in both divisions looking to compete and earn a spot in the Franklin K. Manley Tournament at the end of the season.”


Coach: Scott Palladino, 10th season.

John Strickler - The Mercury Pottsgrove's Dayon Doctor goes high over Boyertown's Ben Longacre for a rebound in the first half.
John Strickler – The Mercury
Pottsgrove’s Dayon Doctor goes high over Boyertown’s Ben Longacre for a rebound in the first half.

Last year’s record: 10-3 PAC-10, 19-7 overall. Lost to Methacton in PAC-10 Final. Advanced to District 1-AAA second round.

Players to watch: Deyon Doctor, Sr., 6-3; Louie Gibbs, Sr., 5-10; Nazir Goldston, Sr., 6-1; Nick Curnew, Jr., 6-0; Nick DeCurtis, Jr., 6-3.

Outlook: Falcons lose a bevy of players from last season’s PAC-10 runner-up team including standout athlete Michael Fowler (12.1 ppg), Anthony Hedgepeth (9.0 ppg), Jaden Wade, Jared Mayes, Scott Exley and Tyler Hibbs. Goldston returns as one of league’s primary 3-point threats after hitting 30 last season. Doctor is another returning starter who Palladino said will need to score, defend and rebound for the Falcons to be successful. Last year’s sixth-man in Gibbs will return after finishing with 29 3-pointers as well as DeCurtis and Curnew who both saw significant time last season. Palladino also touted sophomore Jayden Blakely, James Dargen, Juwyn Goldsmith, Zabree Smith, Steve Hien, Hysheem Robinson and Desmond Austin as players who could make an impact for a team that likes to go eight to ten deep. “We are returning essentially half our group from a year ago,” Palladino said. We will look to defend our Frontier Division Title and qualify for the Final Four and district/state playoffs. We again had a very busy off-season — these guys played approximately 45 games together — and we are expecting to hit the ground running.”


Coach: Cal Benfield, fourth season.

Last year’s record: 5-8 PAC-10, 8-14 overall.

Players to watch: Brandon Tinson, Sr., 6-0.

Outlook: Pottstown loses leading scorers in Rich Duvivier, Jayce Beasley and Bryant Quill and will look to Tinson to lead the team in 2015. Shouldn’t be too hard for the guard as he just finished leading the Trojans’ football team to its best record since 2002. “We are an entirely new team with little varsity experience,” Benfield said. “The roster, however, is made up of mostly seniors, so their maturity will be counted on heavily. We want our players to work harder than ever before, to compete in every game, to take pride in their school and their team. Brandon Tinson, a football standout, will counted on heavily for his leadership.”


Coach: Chris Talley, third season. Gnias

Last year’s record: 7-6 PAC-10, 11-12 overall. Lost to Pennridge in District 1-AAAA opening round.

Players to watch: Matt Gnias, Sr., 6-0 (9.7 ppg); Nigel Cooke, Sr., 6-2; Cameron Reid, Sr., 6-5 (10.6 ppg); Stone Scarcelle, Jr., 6-2.

Outlook: Spring-Ford couldn’t put the pieces together at the end of the season last year, ultimately falling to Boyertown in a do-or-die clash to decide the Liberty’s No. 2 seed. This season the Rams must replace big man Jake Freedman (11.5 ppg) along with leading scorer and 3-point shooter Ryan Corcoran (12.7 ppg and 39 3-pointers). Gnias had a solid junior season despite injury with Reid also impressing early before missing the final five games. The Rams will also look to Cooke and the rest of the seniors to lead them back into the Final Four. “The league should be competitive from top to bottom,” Talley said. “Our goals are to stay healthy and hope to earn our way into the Final 4.”


Coach: Jared Krupp, third season.

Upper Perkiomen Christian Zera ,33, and Upper Moreland's Joe Trovato,24, race for a loose ball during second half action of their contest in the Christopher Dock Mennonite High School Holiday Tournament on Tuesday. December 30, 2014. Photo by Mark C Psoras/The Reporter
Upper Perkiomen Christian Zera ,33, and Upper Moreland’s Joe Trovato,24, race for a loose ball during second half action of their contest in the Christopher Dock Mennonite High School Holiday Tournament on Tuesday. December 30, 2014. Photo by Mark C Psoras/The Reporter

Last year’s record: 0-13 PAC-10, 2-20 overall.

Players to watch: Ryan Sitko, Sr., 6-1; Christian Zera, Sr., 6-4; Liam Boyle, So., 5-10; Ryan Kendra, So., 6-2 (10.1 ppg).

Outlook: Indians have gone four years without winning a PAC-10 game and lost three of the team’s leading scorers in Matt Ruskey (7.3 ppg), Spensir Millsip (7.3 ppg) and Nate Weinstein (7.1 ppg) to graduation. Good news is that Kendra returns after leading the team in scoring and will be complemented by forward Zera along with guards Sitko and Boyle. “Our goal, as always, is to improve upon our previous year’s record and get better with everyday,” Krupp said. “Although youth is a large part of our team, the talent, work ethic and the unselfish play displayed by our student athletes is greater than in recent years of Upper Perk basketball. We expect to be competitive in every game and see a greater amount of success than in years past.”


Coach: Nick Petro, second season.

Last year’s record: 4-8 overall.

Players to watch: Devon Jackson, Jr., 6-0.

Outlook: Jackson returns as team’s primary scorer after leading the Mercury Area with 26.3 points per game. Team must replace Kyle Stroble (13.5 ppg) after he transferred to Daniel Boone.

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