Trojans picked to win the North
Buccaneers and Lions expected to vie for the division title
Last season, the Kent County High boys’ basketball team was the odds-on favorite to win the North Bayside.
But along came Cambridge-South Dorchester, which posted a 15-1 divisional record to take its first North title in eight years.
In 2016, the Vikings are rebuilding. With point guard Naail Thompson having transferred to Saints Peter and Paul, and needing to replace graduates Ivan Taylor (center), Michael Richardson (guard), and multi-talent Dre Greene, head coach Vic Burns has plenty of work to do as his squad tries to repeat.
The Vikings this season have “very little experience,” according to Burns, “but I was encouraged when we played in the summer league, being able to compete with the North teams. We finished runner-up in it, but I’ve got a lot of inexperience. I’m hoping we’ll get better as the season goes on.”
Kent County, returning much of last season’s offensive pop, is again atop the coaches’ collective list as the North’s toughest team.
“Kent’s returning all those guys,” said Colonel Richardson head coach Brad Plutschak, now the North’s longest continuously active coach at 10 seasons. “And I hear they’ve got a freshman that’s pretty good, too.”
“From what I’ve seen, and from what I’ve been able to glean, I think Kent County is the team to beat up here this year,” Queen Anne’s County head coach Dale Becraft said. “They’ve got a lot of talent and they’re fast.”
North Dorchester head coach Robert Smith agreed.
“I’ve got to give it to Kent,” Smith said. “They’ve got Manny [Camper], and Marcquan [Green] . ... Kent Island can surprise some people with Tariq [Johnson]. He’s gonna have good role players around him. …They should be a team to watch also.”
Another team receiving buzz as a potential dark horse is North Caroline. Marty Bailey Sr. stepped down after five seasons at the helm — and back came Steve Perry.
Perry, who led North Caroline to North Bayside titles in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2010, and lost a coin flip to C-SD for the 2006 crown, won the
conference championship in 2005 and 2009. Perry returns after six seasons coaching at Sussex Tech. (Del.). With a ton of returning talent in the front and back, Perry and crew could do some real damage.
“Steve’s a great coach,” Parkside head coach Dave Byer said. “He’s good at getting his kids motivated; he knows the game really, really well.”
Perry, ever humble, deflects when asked. “We’ll see,” Perry said when asked directly. “All I know is, I’m excited. The kids are excited. Some of them have two years of varsity experience; I think we’ve got three or four of them.”
That experience will be needed. The Class 2A Bulldogs open at defending 1A state champ Pocomoke Tuesday, host Kent County two nights later, and also face Easton, C-SD, and Queen Anne’s before the holidays.
“If we come out of this Christmas break pretty good,” Perry said, “we’ll be in good shape.”
Kent Island, which lost point guard Frankie Kratovil and big man Ben Young, returns a group featuring the athletic, fast Johnson and a bevy of supporting stars. Queen Anne’s, according to Becraft, can show two main looks: big and able to dominate the paint, or fast with lots of shooters.
While the Trojans will be pursued mostly by larger schools for the divisional crown, head coach Sobaye Scott is thinking about the postseason a little, saying he’s looking to “get the bad taste out of our mouths” after an 80-62 playoff loss at Pocomoke last year in the 1A East Region title game.
“That wasn’t anywhere near how we wanted to end,” Scott said. “We knew how good Pocomoke was, how good they still are. But that game just was not us . ... And this year, we want to come back . ... I feel like that’s our real mission, and we want to complete that mission . ... This could be a statement year, but it all depends on what team comes out to play.”
Easton, long a threat to win the division, cannot be counted out either, as it returns a good group and will be dangerous in almost any venue.
Here’s how the MidShore’s 11 varsity teams look as the season begins. Two schools, Gunston and Saints Peter and Paul, have already begun play.
Here’s a look at this year’s local teams:
Kent Island Head coach Frank Kratovil’s second son to play high school varsity under him, senior guard Jackson, will join Johnson, Dallas Miller, and insiders David Bowen and John Vanwie in the starting lineup.
Junior 4-5 man Riley Dembowski looks to be the Bucs’ sixth man, who begin Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Parkside in a rematch of last season’s down-to-the-wire season opener.
Josh Anderson along with fellow guards Carl and Cameron Bouie and Selby Scaggs, last season’s leading scorer on junior varsity, will see time on the court.
Queen Anne’s Becraft’s program saw a total turnout of around 60, giving him enough players for freshman, jayvee, and varsity programs. Senior point guard Mikey Monroe leads the varsity. Classmates Mike D’Angelo and Charles Hinson will see time at forward with post man Trent Riggs. Sophomore Nick Dunkerly looks to be the starting shooting guard, with combo-guard Lamont Downes, a senior, working as sixth man.
Depth on the roster includes seniors Aaron Rochester (SG), Austin Thomas (C), Mike Plowden (G), Tyrik Brooks (G), Jameer Richardson (G), junior Seth Keller (C/F), and sophomores Mike Clay (SF) and Brandon Peoples (Wing).
Queen Anne’s opens Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at Mardela.
Sts. Peter and Paul Jeff Hollis’s squad, which plays in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association’s C Conference, has already begun its season, with a non-conference loss against A-league powerhouse Boys’ Latin on Friday night.
The Sabres’ roster includes three juniors: twoguard Thompson, Tyreese Purnell, who transferred from Parkside, and point man Lamont Powell. Conor Mullaney will play the threespot, while senior Adam Alderfer takes over inside. The team also includes junior guard Owen Schroeder, senior guard Julius Rees, senior guard Adam Leister, and senior Charlie Mangold, who broke his wrist recently but may be back later in the season.
Gunston School The Herons are two games into their season, having lost their opener against Faith Christian Academy on Nov. 21, but topping West Nottingham Academy, 51-41, on Friday to improve to 1-1.
Seventh-year head coach Dave Bolyard’s crew includes seniors Evan Donohue (G) and Drew Hightower (F), juniors Rick Archambault (F), Mitchell Naumann (F), Maix Wang (G), and Henry Parkhurst (G); sophomore Ben McBride (F); and freshman guard Adam Archambault, Rick’s younger brother.
The Herons, who play in the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference, play at home on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against St. Thomas Aquinas Academy.
Tariq Johnson, here going to the hoop last season against Queen Anne’s County, is expected to be a key performer for the Kent Island High boys’ basketball team in 2016-17.