Key re­turn­ers ex­pected to power Elkton boys’ bas­ket­ball

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ [email protected]­cil­

— Last win­ter, Char­lie Givens found him­self in an un­fa­mil­iar po­si­tion.

Af­ter 41 years and 400-plus wins on the Per­ryville side­line, the cel­e­brated head coach took over the Elkton boys’ bas­ket­ball team, spend­ing the open­ing months of the 2017-18 sea­son get­ting to know his new play­ers while in­still­ing a new cul­ture into a pro­gram reel­ing from a postgame al­ter­ca­tion that oc­curred the pre­vi­ous post­sea­son.

His ef­forts pro­duced an ex­tended play­off run and a heart­break­ing loss to Har­ford Tech in the 2A East Re­gion Sec­tion I Fi­nal, net­ting the long­time skip­per All-County Coach of the Year honors.

“I’m feel­ing good about it. The kids know what my ex­pec­ta­tions are and I know what ex­pec­ta­tions I can give to them,” Givens said. “We’ll have a good sea­son, no doubt. I guess the prize is at the end of the sea­son, and you want to be prepped when that time comes.”

Fol­low­ing the grad­u­a­tion of AllCounty con­trib­u­tors Ryan Thomp­son and Raiquon Estep and hon­or­able men­tion for­ward Kyle Spencer, Givens will rely on a dif­fer­ent cast of play­ers to lead the Golden Elks this win­ter.

Reign­ing hon­or­able men­tion se­nior guard/for­ward Dah’mear Triplett (10 points, four re­bounds, two steals per game) and ju­nior guards Trevin Ewing,


Farad Stephens and Mar­quis Bat­tle re­turn af­ter break­out cam­paigns a year ago. Se­nior Bran­don McMichael and ju­nior guard Ray­keen Crox­sell will also see in­creased play­ing time af­ter hold­ing bench roles last sea­son, while Givens ex­pects 6-foot-7 for­ward Stu­art Mon­crief and 6-foot-4 for­ward/guard Mitchell Milker to con­trib­ute af­ter not play­ing var­sity a year ago.

“My [phi­los­o­phy] has al­ways been, and the kids know this, is to play de­fense and do ev­ery­thing off the de­fense. If that al­lows us to get some quick bas­kets, that’s fine. Work­ing with the kids, I’m try­ing to con­tinue that style of play,” Givens said. “Go­ing into the sea­son, that’s my de­sire, that’s my goal. Play the same way — up tempo.”

Elkton (14-7 last sea­son) aims to re­peat last year’s suc­cess in which it rolled to a top seed in the re­gion play­offs and home-court ad­van­tage through the sec­tional tour­na­ment. What it doesn’t want to repli­cate is a third-straight loss in the sec­tion fi­nal.

Last year’s buzzer-beater de­feat to ri­val Har­ford Tech marked the sec­ond straight year the Elks were ousted from the post­sea­son by the Co­bras.

“Hope­fully, the guys have the same mind­set. I thought they played Har­ford Tech very, very tough the last game of the sea­son. I was very con­fi­dent,” Givens said. “Hope­fully, I’ll be con­fi­dent with the group that I have this year.”

Grimes ex­pects youth­ful In­di­ans to have bal­anced at­tack

All-County cen­ter Tim Webster was one of nine se­niors that grad­u­ated from last year’s North East boys’ bas­ket­ball team — a pro­gram that earned home­court ad­van­tage in the first round of the play­offs and won a post­sea­son con­test for a sec­ond-straight sea­son.

With only two re­turn­ing play­ers, head coach Seth Grimes is tasked with get­ting a youth­ful ros­ter pre­pared for the grind of the var­sity schedule.

“I think the speed of the game is go­ing to be some of the big­gest fac­tors that we have. There’s a lot of up and com­ing JV kids that are ju­niors, Matt Wal­lace is a sopho­more that’s up with me, and I think it’s a good thing that they have some con­gru­ence to­gether. They’ve started on JV to­gether, so I think that helps for the chemistr y side of it,” Grimes said. “But, I think with the sys­tem and the speed that var­sity brings, we’re go­ing to have to ad­just game by game to what ever y team brings to us.”

Se­nior guard Pat O’Brien and se­nior for ward Matt Dis­cuillo are the lone re­turn­ers from last year’s In­di­ans team that fin­ished the sea­son with dou­bledigit wins.

“Both have stepped up to be team lead­ers thus far through try­outs and early prac­tices,” Grimes said. “They have a good grasp of the sys­tem al­ready, so they’re do­ing a good job of teach­ing ev­ery­body else what we’re go­ing through.”

Not hav­ing Webster in the paint af­ter he fin­ished last sea­son as the county’s only player to av­er­age a dou­ble-dou­ble per con­test, will al­ter the way Grimes at­tacks teams in 2018-19.

“It’s not go­ing to be just one guy.

This year is go­ing to be dif­fer­ent play­ers step­ping up through­out dif­fer­ent games. If we can grow through­out the sea­son and ev­ery­body picks up and plays to their abil­ity, I think we’re go­ing to be a pretty bal­anced team,” Grimes said. “I don’t think you’re go­ing to see one or two guys try­ing to take over. I think it’s go­ing to have to be a com­plete team ef­fort for us to stay suc­cess­ful.”

Tigers hope grow­ing pains turn into wins

A year ago, the Ris­ing Sun boys’ bas­ket­ball team lost six games by four points or less as it suf­fered through a one-win cam­paign



Walker is back, and so is nearly ever y player from last sea­son’s ros­ter, pro­vid­ing the pro­gram with con­fi­dence that this year’s Tigers team can turn those nar­row de­feats in to vic­to­ries.

“Cer­tainly, you hope that some ex­tra ex­pe­ri­ence [will make a dif­fer­ence] this year. I’m ex­cited. It’s a good group of boys,” Walker said. “I have a lot of op­ti­mism go­ing into this year.”

Walk­ers’ big­gest test may be re­plac­ing the pro­duc­tion of grad­u­ated All-County for­ward Ethan Greene, who led the county with 18 points per game and brought down nine re­bounds per con­test.




“Ethan, we’re go­ing to miss him for sure,” Walker said. “Last year, we had two se­niors. This year, we have eight or nine, so we have a much more tenured group, and it should be a lot more bal­anced.”

Among the re­turn­ers is se­nior Trey Walker, who will suit up af­ter earn­ing hon­or­able men­tion ac­co­lades a year ago. Re­turn­ing se­niors Mike Fox, Trent Moore, Eric Far­rell will also be leaned on to pro­vide heavy min­utes, while sev­eral ris­ing ju­niors should also fea­ture into the ro­ta­tion.

The lead­ing ques­tion mark will be at cen­ter, where a team, known for hav­ing tal­ented big men — in­clud­ing for­mer AllCounty for­wards Cur­tis Cox

(2017), Will Far­ring­ton (2016), Kevin Alk­in­burg (2015) and Bran­don Aro (2014), will look to a pair of con­trib­u­tors to log min­utes un­der the bas­ket.

“We cer­tainly don’t have a Cur­tis Cox — a 6-foot-6 big — but we do have Trent Moore. Not quite sure his height, but he’s a big man and very ath­letic. Zach Os­borne is a ju­nior for us and he’s got some height,” Walker added. “Over­all, I think we’ll be a lit­tle more taller than we were last year, but not nec­es­sar­ily have one big dom­i­nant player.”

The 1A boys’ bas­ket­ball pre­view fea­tur­ing Per­ryville and Bo­hemia Manor will pub­lish Fri­day, Dec. 7.



Guard Mar­quis Bat­tle (2) is one of sev­eral key re­turn­ers for the Elkton boys’ bas­ket­ball team. North East, mean­while, must over­come the grad­u­a­tion of nine se­niors, in­clud­ing All-County cen­ter Tim Webster (33).

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