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2022-23 Mercury Boys Basketball Team-By-Team Previews

Hill School’s Augie Gerhart scores a bucket against Perkiomen School in the 2021-22 PAISAA semifinal. (Owen McCue - MediaNews Group)

PAC Liberty Division

Boyertown

Head coach: Travis Miller, second season

Last year’s record: 2-8 Liberty, 4-9 PAC, 9-13 overall

Players to watch: Jake Kapp, Sr., G; Richard Black, Sr., G/F; Zach Ward, Sr., G/F; Ryan Tinney, Sr., G; Dylan Klass, Sr., F.

Outlook: Between battling injuries, losing three games at the buzzer to Perkiomen Valley Norristown and Spring-Ford, and not making the PAC playoffs, last year was one Boyertown hopes to leave far behind in the rearview.

The Bears return a starting lineup of five seniors, highlighted by All-Liberty shooting guard Jake Kapp (13.1 ppg), who led Boyertown’s scoring last season with 276 points. Richard Black and Zach Ward also highlight a solid starting nucleus with all three having started every game last year, barring a couple missed games from Ward due to injury late in the season.

The other two projected starters are forward Dylan Klass and Ryan Tinney at point guard. Boyertown will have eight seniors rostered altogether. Junior Braedyn Johnson and sophomore Trey Kern both impressed during the preseason as well and could have impactful minutes.

Boyertown has higher expectations than its 9-13 record from last season and has put plenty of time in during the offseason to try and take advantage of a senior-laden group heading into the winter. The Bears took part in multiple tournaments, including Philly Live, the A-Town Throwdown in Allentown and the Big 64 in West Chester before dialing into PIAA competition.

“Our goals are to just play to our standards. We want to outwork people. We want to win with effort, hard work and good communication. We want to be good teammates,” Boyertown coach Travis Miller said. “The main theme was we weren’t really concerned about the score (in the summer tournaments), we were concerned about playing to the standard we hold ourselves to.”

Methacton

Head coach: Patrick Lockard, third season

Last year’s record: 9-1 Liberty, 12-1 PAC, 24-5 overall (PAC champion, District 1 semifinals, PIAA first round)

Players to watch: Matt Christian, Sr., F/G; Cam Chilson, Sr., G; Jason Lagana, Sr., G; Alex Hermann, Jr., F.

Outlook: Some say gold standard, others say dynasty. Regardless of preference, Methacton fits the bill for both.

The Warriors have won four of the last five Pioneer Athletic Conference titles — six in the last decade — and have only gotten better. Last year marked a second straight league-leading defense (43.4 ppg) with more production on the offensive end, averaging 3.5 ppg more than Methacton did the previous year.

Key departures in Cole Hargrove (15.7 ppg), last year’s All-Area Player of the Year, and Brett Byrne (12.9 ppg) will leave much room to fill on the offensive end. Senior guard Matt Christian looks to fill those shoes, having led the PAC in 3-pointers last year with 57.

Cam Chilson was a secondary ball handler last year behind Bryne and looks to have a more primary role on the floor. Jason Lagana was a key rotational player from last year’s squad who will look to play important minutes along with forward Alex Hermann as the season rolls out.

“We’re really trying to find our identity for this upcoming year. These earlier practices have been an attempt to try and attempt to build that chemistry and understand how we want to play, what I look for and just to make sure we’re all on the same page,” Pat Lockard said, noting both the earlier start date for the season as well as the requirement of 15 practices prior to the first game being scaled down to 10.

“I keep telling the guys we have to make sure everyone’s pulling in the same direction no matter what your role may be. And that can change from game to game depending on lineups, scatter reports, injuries, who knows what could affect that.”

Norristown

Head coach: Rick Bell, first season

Last year’s record: 6-4 Liberty, 9-4 PAC, 22-8 overall (District 1-6A runner-up, PIAA second round)

Players to watch: Myon Kirlew, Jr., G/F; Jaden Wise, Sr., G; Andre Gordon, Sr., G; Jonathan Brooks, Sr., F; Jayden Byrd, Jr., G; Roddy Jaymon, Sr., G/F.

Outlook: After a year of not playing due to the pandemic, the Eagles soared to the District 1 title game and reached the second round of the state tournament. But the 2022-23 Norristown team will only return one player who had impactful minutes in junior Myon Kirlew.

The Eagles also hired Rick Bell as their new varsity head coach, who previously coached at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia. Along with Kirlew, Norristown will be starting three seniors, Jaden Wise and Andre Gordon at guard and forward Jonathan Brooks.

Junior guard Jayden Byrd will also start for the Eagles with Roddy Jaymon playing impactful minutes. Norristown has made the PAC tournament in all but one season it’s competed and has two Liberty Division titles. History is on the side of the Eagles, but the program will have all new faces on the floor this winter.

“We have some pieces and we’ve been working hard. My key for us is if we play together, we stay together. I think we just need to play for each other, play hard and we’ll get there,” Bell said. “We’ll hit our stride at some point. It’s just gonna take us some time to get there.”

Owen J. Roberts

Head coach: Ben Condello, second season

Last year’s record: 0-10 Liberty, 3-10 PAC, 7-15 overall

Players to watch: Tyler Rossi, Sr., G; Luke Fryer, Jr., G; Jack Cashman, Jr., F; Elijah Cline, So., G/F.

Outlook: Despite going without a division win last year, Owen J. Roberts earned more wins overall than it has since the 2018-19 season with a young team.

The Wildcats enter the 2022-23 campaign with an established nucleus between Tyler Rossi, Luke Fryer and Jack Cashman. Fryer (220 points, 24 threes) led Owen J. Roberts in scoring last year and was named second team All-Liberty, being the lone sophomore selected.

Cashman started as a sophomore and can fill a variety of roles on the floor alongside Rossi. Sophomore Elijah Cline had a strong preseason and is expected to play a major role for the Wildcats.

“We have three guys back with a ton of experience from last year and those guys have done a good job being the leaders whether it’s vocally, leading from that standpoint or by example in practice,” Owen J. Roberts coach Ben Condello said. “The rest of the team, I think you have some who played a lot last year and some who were brand new to this process, so it’s very, very mixed.”

Perkiomen Valley

Head coach: Michael Poysden, 11th season

Last year’s record: 7-3 Liberty, 10-3 PAC, 16-10 overall (District 1-6A second round)

Players to watch: Julian Sadler, Jr., G; Luke Hansen, Sr., G; Shane Nelson, Sr., F; Morgan McKinney, Sr., F; JT Brady, Sr., G; Hadi Iskandarani, Sr., F.

Outlook: Perkiomen Valley may not have taken part in many offseason showcases, but the Vikings have been busy in the lab with much of their roster not having participated in fall sports. Practices have been competitive and Perkiomen Valley is loaded with upperclassmen talent.

Chief among them Julian Sadler, who had a standout sophomore year having averaged 10.7 ppg to lead Perkiomen Valley’s scoring. Morgan McKinney, Shane Nelson and Hadi Iskandarani are all 6-foot-3 forwards who will add size for the Vikings. JT Brady is another senior guard who will be a major cog in the machine.

Routinely a PAC Liberty contender that’s seen some district postseason action in recent years, Perkiomen Valley is all in on making a deeper run with its current personnel.

“We have just a host of complimentary pieces and we’re looking to go much deeper than usual,” Vikings coach Michael Poysden said. “We’ve just a strong junior, sophomore and senior class this year that we’re really excited about with the prospect of playing postseason basketball.”

Spring-Ford

Head coach: Joe Dempsey, second season

Last year’s record: 6-4 Liberty, 8-5 PAC, 13-9 overall (District 1-6A second round)

Players to watch: Caleb Little, Sr., G; Alex Lewis, Sr., F; E.J. Campbell, Jr., G; Jacob Nguyen, So., G/F; Tommy Kelly, So., G/F.

Outlook: While Spring-Ford may have missed the PAC tournament last year, the Rams made a rebound by making the District 1 playoffs — which they had missed the year prior for the first time since 2013.

A starting lineup composed of seniors Caleb Little and Alex Lewis, sophomores Jacob Nguyen and Tommy Kelly, and junior E.J. Campbell will look to steer Spring-Ford back into PAC contention.

The Rams will be without 6-foot-4 Jake Kressley — a Mercury All-Area second teamer and All-Liberty first teamer — who led Spring-Ford’s scoring with 238 points. While trying to replace Kressley’s offensive production, the Rams will also look to improve their fast shooting while mixing in some man-to-man coverage to compliment their zone-heavy defense.

Spring-Ford gets a big test early when it travels to State College to open against West Chester East, a team expected to be a top-five program in Class 5A that retained all its starters.

“We’re going to be a much smaller team, but a lot more athletic. Hopefully we’ll be able to get the tempo going,” Spring-Ford coach Joe Dempsey said. “We played a lot of zone last year that kind of took possessions away from us too because we played a very good zone. Teams had difficulty scoring, that’s the good thing. Bad news is it chopped the game in half and we were playing games right in the high 30s.”

PAC Frontier Division

Phoenixville

Head coach: Eric Burnett, ninth season

Last year’s record: 7-3 Frontier, 9-4 PAC, 17-9 overall (District 1-5A quarterfinals)

Players to watch: Max Lebisky, Jr., F; Aidan McClintock, Jr., F; Deacon Baratta, So., G; Bryce Absher, Jr., F; Dawson Brown, Fr., G.

Outlook: What Phoenixville lacks in experience it makes up for in size. Max Lebisky (6-foot-5), Aidan McClintock (6-foot-6), Deacon Baratta (6-foot-3) and Bryce Absher (6-foot-4) will all be starting for a program that graduated 19 seniors in two seasons.

Lebisky is a power forward who started last year as a sophomore and can fill in at any position. Baratta showed strong shooting for East Coast Power at the Hoop Group Jam Fest in Atlantic City, N.J. in July. Six freshmen are rostered with Dawson Brown starting at point guard.

The Phantoms are younger than they’ve been in years, but still look to be contenders in the PAC Frontier.

“We have some really good shooters. Although they’re big, they can knock down shots. We’re athletic, they can run and get down the floor pretty quick,” Phoenixville coach Eric Burnett said. “I think they’re very smart basketball players and very unselfish.

“They’re always looking to make the extra play for their teammates and read what the defense gives them. They’re high-IQ players who play well together.”

Pope John Paul II

Head coach: Brendan Stanton, fifth season

Last year’s record: 8-2 Frontier, 8-5 PAC, 14-9 overall (PAC runner-up, District 1-4A runner-up)

Players to watch: Trey Rogers, Sr., G; Chase Mondillo, Jr., G; Dom Demito, Jr., G; Caleb Zavertnik, Jr., F.

Outlook: Pope John Paul II has emerged as a PAC power over the last four years. Much of that was due to a golden class highlighted by multi-year All-Frontier first teamers J.P. Baron — the PAC’s leading scorer at 409 points and 17.8 ppg — Jaden Workman (13.9 ppg) and Kevin Green (9.5 ppg).

Back-to-back District 1-4A championship wins, four division titles, a PAC crown (no tournament in the 2020-21 season) and a state quarterfinal berth before the pandemic canceled the remainder of the postseason are just some of the highlights the Golden Panthers enjoyed in recent years.

But now, the only returning starter who’s played notable minutes is senior guard Trey Rogers. Three juniors will also be seeing a bulk of the action. Dom Demito, a 5-foot-11 point guard, as well as 6-foot-1 combo guard Chase Mondillo and Caleb Zavertnik as a 6-foot-5 stretch forward.

Sophomores Bradey Bass, Braden Reed, and Jake Robinson, along with senior Luke DiBricida, will also contribute as role players while Pope John Paul II tries to keep up the momentum the program has built over the past half decade and reach the District 1-4A final again, where it fell to Collegium Charter last season.

“It’s definitely different. We do not have much experience back at all, so it’s a little bit different,” Golden Panthers coach Brendan Stanton said. “Hopefully we can still keep the success going, but it’ll definitely be a different feel.”

Pottsgrove

Head coach: Scott Palladino, second season (previously coached Falcons from 2006-2016)

Last year’s record: 2-8 Frontier, 2-11 PAC, 7-14 overall

Players to watch: Gabe Rinda Jr., G; Nadhir Ward, Jr., F; Blessing Jones, So., G; Julius Marshall, So., F; Deymein Doctor, Fr., F.

Outlook: Pottsgrove will feature a young team with just two seniors in the rotation and underclassmen starting. While the Falcons have graduated three of last year’s starters — Manny Allen, Marlon Glaze and J.R. McMenamin — they retain their leading scorer in junior guard Gabe Rinda (10.9 ppg, 35 threes).

Pottsgrove will also be starting 6-foot-3 freshman forward Deymein Doctor. Nadhir Ward played big minutes last season and will return at forward as well. Sophomore guard Blessing Jones also looks to be key in the Falcons’ rotation.
With a mostly inexperienced group, Pottsgrove will be looking to work on cutting down on turnovers, miscues and running a halfcourt offense.

“The kids are working hard and we’re trying to get everyone up to speed on what we’re doing. We’ve got a lot of youth this year,” Falcons coach Scott Palladino said. “We’re trying to get them acclimated to the varsity game and just getting them up to speed on things.”

Pottstown

Head coach: Ken Ivory, second season (served as interim head coach 2016-2017 season)

Last year’s record: 3-7 Frontier, 3-10 PAC, 6-16 overall

Players to watch: Rashean Bostic, Sr., F/G; Terryece Phillips, Sr., F; Elijah Palmore, Sr., F; Ty Elliot-Moore, Sr., G; Sadeeq Jackson, Jr., G; Abdul Jackson, Jr., G.

Outlook: While Pottstown lost the third-highest PAC scorer in Gage Sibley to graduation, the Trojans retained junior guard Sadeeq Jackson (13.8 ppg) who will be a main scoring threat while his brother, Abdul, will be a primary ball handler. Ty Elliot-Moore is also a competent shooter for the Trojans.

Last year was a setback for Pottstown, which went 5-5 in the PAC Frontier the two seasons prior. With Ken Ivory entering his second year at the helm of the program, the senior-laden team is coming off offseason work from summer leagues and an AAU tournament with the hope to hit the ground running this winter.

“They got their feet wet, made some splashes and made great strides over the summer. I’m looking for big things from them,” Ivory said on his seniors. “We have core young players, core juniors who can really go … I think we’re very balanced.
“Identity wise, I think we’re just looking to share the basketball, move the basketball and play good defense. Hopefully we can get out and run that way.”

Upper Merion

Head coach: Jason Quenzer, ninth season

Last year’s record: 8-2 Frontier, 8-5 PAC, 11-12 overall (District 1-5A first round)

Players to watch: Madison Tatom, Sr., G; Colin Hirshorn, Jr., G; Devin Swayze, Sr., F.

Outlook: The bad news for Upper Merion? An already short preseason with the early start and less practices was cut even shorter due to limited gym space in the offseason. The good news? The Vikings will have a brand new facility that opened its doors on the first day of tryouts.

Upper Merion finished with the same PAC record as Pope John Paul II last year, though the latter took the Frontier division title due to power points. The Vikings look to make another push this winter despite losing their top scorers in Ty Jones (12.4 ppg) and Kalil Lawson (11.2).

All-Frontier second team guard Madison Tatom will be a four-year starter. Junior Colin Hirshorn was a pass-first player under Jones and Lawson but will look to put more shots up. Devin Swayze is also a key rotation that returns for Upper Merion.

The guard-heavy squad is also complimented by junior Allen Cole, who’s making his varsity debut as well as Nick Smiley, a point guard with good vision who can also shoot.

“We have guys that can come in and share the ball. This is probably, over the last some odd years, one of my better coachable teams,” Upper Merion coach Jason Quenzer said. “They all want to play for one another, they don’t care who scores, they just want to win.”

Upper Perkiomen

Head coach: Michael DeCarolis, second season

Last year’s record: 2-8 Frontier, 2-11 PAC, 3-19 overall

Players to watch: Dan Carpenter, Sr., F; Aiden Keyser, Jr., C.

Outlook: The Indians made improvements following a winless COVID-altered season by stringing together a couple victories to build off of. However, with a large senior class and four starters graduated, the vast majority of Upper Perkiomen’s minutes will contain new faces.

More than half the team is composed of sophomores and juniors, and Vikings coach Michael DeCarolis will be working with a new nucleus of players for the next couple years. Dan Carpenter has the most varsity experience of the returning players and Armani Avant-Brown, a Philly transfer, will also be leaned on.

Aiden Keyser stepped up last year, filling in for Upper Perkiomen’s big men when they were injured and will be the Indians’ starting center this season.

Upper Perkiomen took part in the Christopher Dock Fall League and played up against 6A schools — as well as Frontier contender Phoenixville — testing its mettle to prepare for the PIAA season. So far, the result is higher spirits in the locker room.

“Our energy and enthusiasm at the start of practice has been something that I’ve really been proud of,” DeCarolis said. “It’s tough when you don’t win a lot of games and this group, at the varsity level anyway for the last four years, they have not won many games.

“I believe it’s 10 or less wins combined the last four years, so that’s always really tough keeping the kids’ energy and spirit up. But this group is a really close-knit group.”

Others

Hill School

Head coach: Seth Eilberg, 22nd season

Last year’s record: 16-13 (MAPL runner-up, PAISAA semifinalist)

Players to watch: Augie Gerhart, 2023, F; Justin Molen, 2023, G; Jacob Meachem, 2025, G; Trey O’Neil, 2024, G; Josh Cameron, 2023, G/F; Matt Field, 2023, F.

Outlook: The Blues opened up their season 2-1 at the Phelps Invitational before winning their home opener against Episcopal Academy Nov. 30. Penn-bound forward Augie Gerhart (6-foot-9), 2023 wing Justin Molen (6-foot-6) highlight Hill’s starting lineup with Jacob Meachem and Trey O’Neil in the backcourt.

Coming off a foot injury from last year, Josh Cameron (6-foot-7) had a strong start to the season with 22 points against Phelps and is fully back in the mix. Division III Ursinus-bound Matt Field will be a major cog in the machine, taking charges, grabbing boards and playing solid defense on top of being a highly capable shooter.

Quadri Bashiru, a 15-year-old 6-foot-9 forward from Oyo State, Nigeria, is a big addition for the Blues and Liam Barney will look to provide points off the bench.

“It’s going to be fun to see guys step into new roles and we have some impactful returners too who got good experience and good minutes last year,” Hill coach Seth Eilberg said. They’re all good players but will have to take on more responsibilities.”

Daniel Boone

Head coach: Craig Tranovich, third season

Last year’s record: 0-11 Berks II, 0-22 overall

Players to watch: Brendan Gaines, So., G; Mason Sacarello, Sr., F.

Outlook: Daniel Boone opened eyes by pulling out a dramatic comeback over Pottsgrove, 70-62 on the road to snap a 26-game losing streak. Brendan Gaines scored 22 points with Mason Saccarello putting up 18 and Harrison Delissaint adding 14. Tyson Pinchok was the fourth Blazer to reach double-digit scoring with 10 points.

Daniel Boone made more progress on the first night of competition than it had in over a season’s worth of games. With some impressive young scoring talent and good second-half adjustments, the Blazers can make a bounce back into Berks contention.

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