Plenty of action awaits in area high school basketball
High school basketball fans can gear up to see quality basketball this year.
Here is a preview of all the Collier County teams, with Lely and Marco Island Academy leading the list as the main schools in the Marco Eagle coverage.
Coach: Ryan Bowen (4th year)
Last year: 17-12 (district runner-up)
Key returners: Nick Ronquette, Nick Talko, Karbiel Dirogene.
Coach's Outlook: The Trojans return six players with varsity experience. The Trojans focus will be to compete at the defensive end of the floor and be in great physical shape. The Trojans will be traveling to Elmira, N.Y., to play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Holiday tournament Dec. 27-30. This, along with a tough district and nonconference schedule, will hopefully prepare the Trojans take the next step as a program.
MARCO ISLAND ACADEMY
Coach: Roger Raymond (2nd year)
Last year record: 1-9
Key returners: Peter Servente, Preston Reese.Coach's outlook: The second-year Manta Rays face a difficult schedule with schools like Immokalee, Palmetto Ridge, and First Baptist, among others, dotting the landscape. With two returning starters, and the addition of Jared Jackson, Cole Stretton, Yali Luna, and Nick Dotson, the Rays could surprise some teams in the area. Jackson comes in as one of the leading scorers in Marco Island Charter Middle School history, and should be a scoring threat at the wing and the point. His leadership will be key. Stretton will add stability at the point and against pressure defense. Servente and Reese return as leading scorers from last year with Reese leading the team in rebounding. Coach Roger Raymond returns for his second year at the helm, this year relinquishing the head job at the Marco Island Charter Middle School after 15 years. "It should be a season of change for the Manta Rays," Raymond said.
Coach: Joe Rader (1st year; 7th overall)
Last year: 23-3 (district champs, regional finalists)
Key returners: Andrew Gilbert, Matt Tormey, Bryce Nealon, Nick Diodati, Zach McElroy, Adam Essler
Coach's outlook: The Cougars return three starters and a balanced supporting cast from last year's team that won a second consecutive district championship and advanced to the regional finals before losing to eventual state champion Miami-Norland. Deion Clark, a three-time all-state selection and current Old Dominion University player, led the Cougars the previous three seasons in scoring. Barron Collier must find a way to collectively make up for his contributions.
Coach: Greg Donahue (5th year)
Last year: 18-9
Key returners: Ryan Celano, Drew Gendron, Max Kent, Dan Paul, Johnny Baker, Zach Rochette, Charlie Badger.
Coach's outlook: The Seahawks return seven of their top nine players from last season. With the addition of Jeff Merton to the lineup this team is as deep as any team around.
FIRST BAPTIST ACADEMY
Coach: Scott Stewart (5th year)
Last year: 13-14 (district runner-up, lost in regional quarterfinals)
Key returners: Austin Williamson, Jason Perry,Lorenzo Jenkins.
Coach's outlook: The Lions have a more balanced team this year to surround their talented center Austin Williamson. Coach Stewart says they are focused on winning their first district championship to go along with our football team. We have paid our dues in growing a program and its now our time to show our development.
Coach: Joe Consolino (9th year)
Last year: 7-17
Key returners: Keovis Brice,Marcko Nettles, Walter Gomez, Garrett Maze.
Outlook: In addition to starters Brice and Maze returning, the Titans have former Naples High guard Troy Thomas who transferred. Adam Schneider is a senior point guard who moved to the area from Canada. The Titans host the revamped Gulfshore Invitational, which they've turned into a national tournament, Dec. 27-31.
Coach: Phil Johnson (1st year)
District: 6A-14 Last year: 18-9
Key returners: Davidson Neptune, Gage Oberman, Nicholas Matson, Ryan Small, Ryan Moore,Luke Czplewski,Chad Weber,Dylan Strungis, Michael Murphy.Coach's outlook: The Sharks return nine players off a squad that were runners-up in their district last season. These nine players will be joined by Steven Kapriva a 6-foot-5 senior who transferred from First Baptist Academy to round out a 10-man roster. This is a solid group with size, speed and ability.
Coach: Brien Crowder (4th year; 31st overall)
District: 5A -14
Last year: 21-5
Key returners: Natrone Means, 4th year starter; Xavier Richardson, 4th year starter; Tshumbi Johnson, 4th year starter; D'Ernest Johnson, 3rd year starter; Junior Jolibois, J.C. Jackson, Joslin Alberique.
Coach's outlook: The Indians return four starters from last year's team, three of which will be starting for their fourth year. As always at Immokalee, the basketball team has to wait on the football playoffs, in which the Indians are expected to go deep. With experience, size, speed, and an abundance of athletes the Indians should be meshing into a pretty good basketball team by mid-January. Immokalee hosts this year's district playoffs.
Coach: Pierre Eaton (4th year)
Last year: 12-12
Key returners: Mark Karr, Isaac Tiburcio, Heber Clermont, Wes Walker, Donte Hoppa.
Coach's outlook: The Golden Eagles, coming off a disappointing 12-12 season, are looking to get back into the playoffs this season. Naples returns a solid nucleus of players, behind 6-foot-8 forward Mark Karr and senior transfer Nick Guerriero.
Coach: Steve Crowder (1st year)
Last year: 5-19
Key returners: Javion Morgan, Russell Terrell, Bernie Brooks, Keion Williams, Kris Anderson, John Sparkman.
Coach's outlook: The Bears return all five starters and a talented supporting cast from last years' team. Headed by a much improved 6-foot-7 junior, John Sparkman, in the post, the Bears also will be strong at the guard position, with several good shooters returning.
ST. JOHN NEUMANN
Coach: John Wholihan (4th year)
Last year: 13-14
Key returners: George Obidiegwu, Ralph Coleman, Cameron Maguire.
Coach's outlook: We will be counting on senior leadership to improve on last year.
Coach: Bob Madden
Last year: 22-6
Key returners: Elliot Gonzalez, Will Luer, Jay Jenkins, Gus Joseph
Coach's outlook: Seacrest looks to continue to improve on the season as there are many new faces playing this year. It will take time for the team to jell, but they will get better at the end of the season when it counts.