MISAL basketball teams ready to go
Calverton is off and running
While their public school counterparts get rolling with regular season play this week, a quartet of Southern Maryland private schools which play basketball in the Metro Independent Schools Athletic League are already underway.
At The Calverton School in Calvert County, Jerome McArthur will lead the charge as the boys head coach after he was an assistant on the Cougars’ staff last year.
Calverton only graduated senior Bobby Claggett from last year’s team. Claggett was one of the Cougars’ most valuable players last season along with Maurtice Newsome who returns for his sophomore campaign.
“We have a really young team that is very capable of competing with top schools,” McArthur said.
The Cougars are determined to have a breakthrough season after winning just one game last season with a carefully crafted roster that includes the team’s
leading scorer from a year ago in Newsome.
“I would like our record to be a lot better than it was last year and I believe we will see that change this year. The team this year has been put together by planning and hard work,” McArthur said.
Calverton began the 2018-19 season with a third-place finish at the Rosedale Baptist School Tip-Off Tournament in Baltimore and took its record to 4-1 with an 81-71 over School Without Walls of Washington, D.C., on Tuesday night.
“I want this group to compete and this school will soon be talked about in reference to the basketball program. We have kids coming here to play because of the talent they see The Calverton School has been able to securely lately,” McArthur said. “We have several needs we need to address, but our core is young and I see a bright future with the team we have now. I want my players to grow and develop as a team and push each other to get better as time goes on. I would like people in the community to come check out the new-looking Calverton team and just come watch the Cougars play a fast-paced, aggressive style of play basketball.”
Calverton’s girls team (3-0 so far this season) will be led by head coach Alante Pritchett.
“We’re young, most of our team are underclassmen,” Pritchett said. “Time is on our side.”
In Pritchett’s first year as head coach, the goal for the team is simple.
“Our main goal for this season is to compete. With so many young players we will learn and become a growing force day by day,” Pritchett said.
Pritchett noted some key players to watch this season will be returning junior Natalie O’Brien and two incoming freshmen, Calaya Holland and Anaysha Shahid.
“We do not have a junior varsity team this season, so our varsity roster seats 13 girls that all play multiple sports. Our starting five is composed of three juniors and two freshmen,” Pritchett said. “O’Brien is expected to carry the majority of the offensive load with support from Holland and Shahid who both play exceptionally well at both ends of the court.”
Grace Christian Academy in Charles County will only have a boys basketball team this year.
John Stokes is the team’s new head coach, but he is familiar with the program already as he worked as an assistant on the staff last season.
“We are looking to continue to grow our basketball program and have a winning season,” Stokes said. “We want to create an atmosphere of intense defense, fast-paced offense and increase the level of competition we face throughout the year.”
Last season, Grace finished the season with an overall record of 15-13 and were the MISAL tournament runner-up after falling to Southern Maryland Christian Academy in the final.
Eight players graduated from last year’s team, including All-MISAL first-teamer Kalvin Young and All-MISAL second-teamer John Stokes. The Knights look to fill those voids with a team full of young players and coach Stokes is excited to see what his young team can achieve this year.
“The guys are young and poised. They are ready to shake up the MISAL this year,” he said.
Southern Maryland Christian, also in Charles County, will have a boys and girls team this season.
David McGlone will be the coach for the Mustangs boys this season.
“Overall, we are rebuilding after a strong championship season. This year’s team consists of six seniors, three juniors, three sophomores, and two freshmen,” McGlone said.
The boys finished the regular season last year with an overall record of 19-5 and were the MISAL tournament champions. They also defeated Grace to win the Maryland Christian Schools Tournament Division I championship.
“Our goals this season are to defend our MISAL championship and defend our MCST championship,” McGlone said.
The girls team, which will be led by head coach Paul Tarry, will struggle this season to replace Joy Namyst who has gone on to play NCAA Division II soccer in South Carolina.
“Namyst was an outstanding defensive player that will be hard to, if not impossible, to replace,” Tarry said.
Tarry noted the athletes to watch on this year’s team are Jariah Russell, a junior transfer from St. Charles High School, and Morgan Baker, a returning senior.
“These two will be our strongest two players,” Tarry said.
Tarry said that Baker suffered a knee injury in a scrimmage last week and the team hopes the injury is nothing severe because of Baker’s importance to the team.
“Baker can rebound, has the ability to go end to end and can shoot the three. In our final game of last season, she dropped 36 of the team’s 39 points,” Tarry said. “Russell will be a very important addition, as she will be able to run with Baker. They should be a strong tandem as Russell brings a strong work ethic and mentality that has not existed in SMCA girls basketball.”
Depth may be an issue as the team only has nine girls on the roster this year, but field some promising freshmen Tarry hopes can step up this year.
“This year’s team is still very young with two seniors, one junior, two sophomores, three freshmen and one eighth-grader, Kennadi Johnson. Johnson is probably our third best player. She is smart, shoots well and is aggressive,” Tarry said. “We are looking for Johnson and Russell to compliment Baker this season, as she did not have a lot of scoring help last year.”
Baker, Russell and Johnson will serve as captains this season.
“We do not have a lot of size or exceptional quickness, so we are hoping to come together as a team by sharing and moving the ball well,” Tarry said.
King’s Christian Academy in St. Mary’s County will have a boys and girls team this year.
The boys have head coach Reggie Williams and assistant coach Chanda Norton, both in their first years with the program.
“Our senior class last year, were very impactful in the MISAL conference last season,” Norton said. “All of our players will contribute in a positive way [this season].”
The King’s boys roster has five seniors that Norton noted will provide the team with experience as well as veteran leadership for the underclassmen.
“We are expecting senior Chris Christian and junior Caleb Towns to produce consistent numbers for us. Senior Jaden Johnson and junior Justus Sewell will be sleepers,” Norton said. “We also expect seniors Kenny Russell and Devin Johnson, and junior Cedric Sobola to be outside threats as well as sophomore Terrence Green to start making his mark this year as the only sophomore on the team. He will see some good minutes.”
Norton is the first woman to be an assistant coach for the King’s boys program.
“Coach Williams brings a higher level of professionalism to the basketball program, that is exciting,” Norton said. “Our goals for the season are to be a smart defensive team this year and to be successful.”
Damien Rivers is the head girls basketball coach for the Eagles.
“This year our goal and expectations are to win the MISAL league, as well as the Maryland Christian State tournament,” Rivers said. “We feel we should be fairly dominant in league play, and we have some challenging non league games to prepare us.”
King’s returns many of the same players from last year as the team did not have any seniors who graduated. With the addition of three transfer students to the team this season, the Eagles are poised for a successful season.
“This year we have two seniors that will start, Sydney Sobola and Jamie Metcalf, one junior Kayla Gray, and two sophomores Imani Eubanks and Alexis Smith,” Rivers said.
Sobola last season as a junior broke the school rebounding record and earned all-conference honors.
Eubanks transferred from Leonardtown High School, while Gray and Smith transferred from Great Mills High School.
“Our transfers are all great players, but Eubanks was one of Leonardtown’s best players as a freshman,” Rivers said. “Her transferring was a big deal here locally. Lots of eyes will be on us to see how the transfers do.”
Calverton junior Natalie O’Brien dribbles the ball during a game last season. O’Brien is among the key players to watch for the Cougars this winter.