Seahawks, Trojans top first poll of new hoops season
Worcester County’s three schools all in top third of Bayside rankings
“Yes, just 13 points. One-three.”
I can’t count how many people have asked me since Dec. 6 if the 72-13 final of the boys’ basketball game between Cambridge-South Dorchester and Stephen Decatur that night was correct, or some horrible typo.
That was the score. It’s a record low in the history of C-SD boys’ hoops.
Decatur’s loaded, and C-SD... isn’t. With 6-footand-a-lot-more center Keve Aluma clogging the lane, and a strong backcourt and bench, the Seahawks are primed for a nice run like last season before it ended in heartbreak at the Class 3A state championship game, which they lost on a last-minute steal and layup by C. Milton Wright.
While Decatur got back a lot, the Vikings graduated three of their five starters, Dre’ Greene, Michael Richardson, and Ivan Taylor. A fourth, junior point guard Naail Thompson, is now playing for Saints Peter and Paul, the first instance I can think of when a C-SD boys’ basketball player got lured away to play for a private school in Talbot County.
The Vikings’ lone returning starter, Koby Jones, went down hard the previous night and re-injured an already hurt right leg (he’s a football player, too; I helped coach him in Pop Warner back in 2007). So, with Jones unavailable, the Vikings had their work cut out on the road against a Decatur team many pick as the favorite to take the Bayside Conference crown ... and possibly in girls’ hoops as well.
So, in case you were curious, yes, this is my first power poll of the new hoops season, and yes, also, I’m putting Decatur at the top. C-SD, while 2-1, picked up those two wins against teams from schools whose combined enrollment is less than half its own, Salisbury School and St. Michaels.
The Vikings will play better than last Tuesday. Everyone has an awful game from time to time. But if any game serves as a signal moment so far this season, it was Decatur’s opener.
Having already seen six of the Bayside’s 18 boys’ teams, I think the North may be in for a rough go against the South. Not counting C-SD’s game on Dec. 5 against Salisbury School, the North only managed one win over the South on opening night last week, when Queen Anne’s County blew out Mardela.
Mardela, by the way, is the only 1A team in the South never to have won the division in boys’ basketball. Parkside, a 2A about to go up to 3A next school year, is the South’s only big school never to win the division.
Where does the rest of the conference rank? Well, right now, with only about four teams seeming to have their heads on right, it looks like Worcester County controls the tempo, much as it did last season, when Pocomoke won the 1A state title, its only regular-season loss coming against Decatur.
Snow Hill, which was bad a couple of seasons ago, is experiencing a rebirth under head coach Byron Arenella, who had the unenviable task of taking over the program in the winter of 2010 when longtime, legendary coach Allen Miller died suddenly in
September of that year. The Eagles are 2-0, having beaten Parkside on Thursday.
Up North, I’m sticking with my preseason prediction that Kent County is the top team. However, another performance like opening night at Wicomico, in which “we were just out of control, and we didn’t play at all like a team,” as head coach Sobaye Scott put it, could jeopardize the Trojans’ lofty position at the top.
Queen Anne’s, my original pick for No. 2 in the North, fell from that position on Thursday with a loss at home against Easton. The Lions also lost, for a week or two, the services of big insider Mike D’Angelo to a sprained ankle. It was a real bummer Saturday seeing him on crutches at the Eastern Shore Bowl, the annual Bayside senior football allstar game. (Get well soon, Mike, and Koby, too, while we’re at it.)
The Lions visit C-SD tonight at 6:30 p.m., and this game will determine a little about both, but not a lot. As in football, I’d have to pick Queen Anne’s to win right now.
Wicomico, without any seniors, but with Butch Waller at the helm for his 13th straight “final season” (that’s been a long-running joke between myself and Paul Butler, who used to do sports but is now news anchor for WBOC-TV in Salisbury), would probably be the dark horse candidate in the South. Always dangerous in the playoffs, WiHi has Waller’s 51 years of experience and nearly 800 coaching wins to fall back on if things get tough.
Kent Island, which showed some pop in the first half but, heck, I don’t know what happened in the fourth quarter last week at Parkside, is in the middle of the pack right now. That being said, be warned: if the Buccaneers play together, they’re going to be trouble. Big trouble. They have all the pieces. Once the thing is put together, it’ll be hard to take apart again.
Crisfield, which topped Easton opening night and rolled over Mardela on Thursday, has some potential, and the person who runs the team’s Twitter account keeps trying to bribe me with food to come see them. I might take them up on that; late coach Phil Rayfield and I had a standing agreement that, if I called ahead, he’d have a crab cake sandwich waiting for me.
I’ll add here that he did that when crabs were out of
season. While officially, crabbing season in the Chesapeake ends Dec. 15, by then no watermen are shaking pots or pulling trots. Almost all have been tonging for oysters since mid-October.
We’ll keep it brief this week, since no team has played more than three games. We’ll check in again around the new year, after the Christmas tournaments, and see where things fall.