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2017-18 high school boys basketball preview

By: Warren Mayes


Whitfield will be gunning for its third consecutive Final Four appearance in the Class 3 state basketball. The Warriors finished second in the state last winter.

Coach Mike Potsu returns four starters and a total of nine returning players off last year’s 22-10 team.

Whitfield is led by 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior guard Torrence Watson averaged 28 points a game last season.

Parkway Central reach the Final Four in Class 4. Coach Rick Kirby’s Colts went 22-10 and he has five starter back.

The Colts will be led by senior guard DeAndre Campbell, who is a returning all-conference and all-state selection. Campbell, who scored 21 points a game last season, will be the Colts’ catalyst.

There are several teams who will be good and make deep runs in the postseason.

CBC and Chaminade both have talented players. MICDS has two starters back from last season’s Metro League champions that went 19-9.

There are three new coaches this season.

Kent Williams takes over at De Smet Jesuit. Williams was a standout college player at Southern Illinois University. He has been a college assistant coach as well but tired of the travel that goes with the job.

Williams replace former Spartans coach Blake Ahearn, who departed after one season to coach in the National Basketball Association’s developmental league.

Marquette has a new coach in Eric Schweain, who also is the boys and girls golf coach.

Matt Roach steps up from assistant coach to head coach. Mitch Stevens resigned after last season’s Patriots went 17-10 and won the Suburban West Conference title.

Here is a look at the teams in alphabetical order with insight from the coaches:

CBC CADETS

2016-17 record: 20-10. Finished third at 5-3 in Metro Catholic Conference. Won Class 5 District 6 championship game with win over De Smet. Lost to Webster Groves 76-75 in Class 5 quarterfinals.

Coach: Justin Tatum, entering fifth year as head coach at CBC.

Returning: 11 players, 3 starters

Offense: Various. Quick hits. Motion sets.

Defense: Man-to-man, press, variety to try and dictate tempo.

Team captains: Davis Aufdembrink, Josh Wallace and Jai Love

Players to watch this season: Sopohomore F Caleb Love, junior F Josh Wallace, junior F Ari Jackson, senior PG Jai Love, sophomore 6-11 C Davion Bradford, junior F Will Shumpert and senior G Davis Aufdembrink

Newcomers expected to contribute: Some will step up as the season goes along.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None

Team strengths: Our numbers gives good depth. Being unselfish. Completing the plays. Doing the job and making passes.

Goals: Get better every day. Like to win a state championship. Instill character in our team and establish an identity.

Metro Catholic Conference: CBC, De Smet Jesuit, Saint Louis University High and Vianney

Favorites to win the conference: CBC and Chaminade

Teams in Class 5 District 5: CBC, De Smet Jesuit, Kirkwood, Parkway South and Rockwood Summit

Final thought: “Like every year, we get a chance to make the program better and that’s what we want to do,” Tatum said. “I’m looking forward to working with the kids. We’ve got a young, talented group that is fun to work with. They want to work. It should be an awesome season.”

CHAMINADE RED DEVILS

2016-17 record: 24-7. Finished second at 6-2 in Metro Catholic Conference. Won Class 5 District 4 championship. Finished fourth at state, losing 89-78 to Kickapoo.

Coach: Frank Bennett, entering fifth year as head coach at Chaminade.

Returning: 9 players, 3 starters

Offense: Motion offense

Defense: Man to man

Team captains: Henry Gladson and Jadis White

Players to watch this season: Amauri Pesek-Hickson, Jonathan Dunn, Jaden Winfield.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: Jericole Hellems to North Carolina State.

Team strengths: Good team chemistry.

Goals: Get better every day.

Metro Catholic Conference: CBC, De Smet Jesuit, St. Louis University High and Vianney

Teams in Class 5 District 3: Chaminade, Hazelwood East, Ladue, Ritenour and St. Louis University High

Final thought: “I am excited about our guys and where their chemistry is this early in the season,” Bennett said.

DE SMET JESUIT SPARTANS

2016-17 record: 12-16. Finished tied for fourth at 1-7 in Metro Catholic Conference. Lost Class 5 District 6 championship game to CBC.

Coach: Kent Williams, Entering first year as head coach at De Smet.

Offense: Motion, sets.

Defense: Man-to-man

Team captains: Brooks Ford and Joey Bender

Players to watch this season: Brooks Ford, Evan Asleson and Yaya Keita

Newcomers expected to contribute: Collin Goodwin, Yaya Keita and Jeremiah Walker.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None

Team strengths: Depth and discipline.

Goals: As a new coach with a lot of newcomers, the goal is to improve each day, be at our best in February and March.

Metro Catholic Conference: CBC, De Smet Jesuit, St. Louis University High and Vianney

Favorites to win the conference: CBC and Chaminade.

Teams in Class 5 District 5: CBC, De Smet Jesuit, Kirkwood, Parkway South and Rockwood Summit

Final thought: “I am extremely excited to take over for a program with a rich tradition of winning,” Williams said. “We have a young team that is fun to coach. I’m looking forward to watching them develop and improve throughout the year.”

EUREKA WILDCATS

2016-17 record: 12-14. Tied for second at 7-2 in Suburban West Conference. Lost Class 5 District 5 game to Lafayette.

Coach: Austin Kirby, Entering fourth year as head coach at Eureka.

Returning: 8 players, 3 starters

Offense: Ball screen motion

Defense: Man-to-man

Team captains: Undecided.

Players to watch this season: Senior Zach Summers, junior Avery Taggart.

Newcomers expected to contribute: Sophomore Jhalon Asher-Sanders.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: Hassan Haskins has verbally committed to Michigan in football.

Team strengths: Athleticism

Goals: Play with great consistency and be playing our best basketball at the end of the season.

Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South and Seckman

Favorites to win the conference: Parkway South and Lafayette

Teams in Class 5 District 4: Eureka, Francis Howell, Lafayette, Marquette and Washington

Final thought: “I am excited to coach this team,” Kirby said. “We will have great senior leadership and I believe our personnel will fit the style we want to play.”

LAFAYETTE LANCERS

2016-17 record: 16-13. Tied for second at 7-2 in Suburban West Conference. Won Class 5 District 5 championship. Lost in sectional to CBC.

Coach: Matt Landwehr, entering second year as head coach at Lafayette.

Returning: 7 players, 1 starte

Offense: Motion offense and sets.

Defense: Man-to-man and zone.

Team captains: Not named.

Players to watch this season: Senior G/F Brenden Boyd, senior G/F Andre Roberts, senior F/C Chris Harstick, senior G Spencer Stewart, junior G/F Jack Schmitt and junior F/C Trey Griffey

Newcomers expected to contribute: Junior F/C Will Tulloch, sophomore G Ryan Campbell.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None

Goals: Win conference. Win districts, Advance further in the state tournament and have fun.

Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South and Seckman

Favorites to win the conference: The Suburban West will be tough as always. It will be a tight race between at least three or four teams.

Teams in Class 5 District 4: Eureka, Francis Howell, Lafayette, Marquette and Washington

Final thought: “I am very excited to coach this group of young men,” Landwehr said. “Our first couple weeks of practice have been very competitive. We graduated a lot from last year but the guys we have in our program now have worked very hard and are ready to reload our roster and be very competitive again this year. They have been really good teammates and we are all very excited to get games going soon.”

MARQUETTE MUSTANGS

2016-17 record: 13-14. Finished fifth at 6-3 in Suburban West Conference. Lost Class 5 District 5 game to Francis Howell.

Coach: Eric Schwaein, entering first year as head coach at Marquette.

Returning: 7 players, 0 starters

Offense: A variety of options.

Defense: Man-to-man, but will show some other looks also.

Team captains: Undecided.

Players to watch this season: Jason Montgomery, Jake Merz,Tyler Sieli, Robby Mills, Max Jennings, Blake Washam and Isaac Schweain

Newcomers expected to contribute: Presley Ingram, Robbie Norman, Kyle Potthoff, Ross Matzen, Drew Sears and Davion Polk

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None.

Team strengths: Hopefully defense, rebounding, and great team chemistry.

Goals: We want to improve every day and the rest will take care of itself.

Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South and Seckman

Favorites to win the conference: Parkway South and Eureka

Teams in Class 5 District 4: Eureka, Francis Howell, Lafayette, Marquette and Washington

Final thought: “I am really excited to coach these boys,” Schweain said. “I have known them for a long time and really look forward to working with them again. We play Troy in our first game. It will be a great challenge for us.”

MICDS RAMS

2016-17 record: 19-9. Finished 10-1 to win Metro League. Lost Class 4 District 5 championship game to Parkway Central.

Coach: Matt Hixenbaugh, entering 12th year as head coach at MICDS.

Returning: 9 players. 2 starters.

Offense: Going to be perimeter oriented and try to use pace and space to allow our guys the room to create and make plays.

Defense: Primarily man-to-man

Team captains: Austin Thompson, Julian Cheaney, Dillon Scott, Justin Pace and John Handman

Players to watch this season: Senior guards Austin Thompson and Julian Cheaney

Newcomers expected to contribute: Sophomore forward Darion Smith

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None.

Team strengths: Many players who have played a lot of games and minutes, but in a very different role. Perimeter players are a strength along with depth where we think we will be able to play a lot of players game in and game out.

Goals: Grow as a team and be playing our best basketball at the end of the season to make a run in the postseason.

Metro League teams: John Burroughs, Lutheran North, Lutheran South, MICDS, Principia, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy

Favorites to win the conference: John Burroughs and Lutheran North have the most returning players.

Teams in Class 4 District 5: John Burroughs, MICDS, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy

Final thought: “We are really looking forward to the season and watching our players embrace new roles,” Hixenbaugh said. “Our guys have spent a lot of time working on improving both individually and as a team and it will be an exciting challenge to put the puzzle together over the course of the season.”

PARKWAY CENTRAL COLTS

2016-17 record: 22-10. Finished second at 3-1 in Suburban Central — Division. Won Class 4 District 5 championship by defeating MICDS. Reached Final Four and finished fourth in state with 50-40 loss to Kearney.

Coach: Rick Kirby, entering 24h year as head coach at Parkway Central.

Returning: 11 players, 5 starters

Offense: Will rely on a mix of patterned half-court sets but at our best when we get out in transition.

Defense: Almost exclusively man-to-man.

Team captains: Not named.

Players to watch this season: Senior G DeAndre Campbell is a returning all-conference and all-state selection who will be the catalyst. Senior F Arther Green is extremly athletic and finishes well at the rim. Senior G Jake Silvestri is a serious perimeter threat shooting. Senior F Gerarld Lenoir, senior G Devin Rice Jayden Littlejohn and sophomore F Devion Harris all contributed well last season.

Newcomers expected to contribute: Charlie Meier had a good summer and he is expected to contribute some valuable minutes. Nate Moore provides great energy.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None.

Team strengths: We hang our hat by playing great defense. We hope to outwork you every game.

Goals: The same every year: reach 20 wins, be the conference champ and district champions.

Suburban Central Conference teams: National Division: Clayton, University City, Ladue, Parkway Central and Parkway West; American Division: Maplewood, McCluer South-Berkeley, Jennings, Affton and Normandy

Favorites to win the conference: Ladue and Parkway West

Class 4 District 5: John Burroughs, MICDS, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy

Final thought: “I’m really excited about the upcoming season,” Kirky said. “We return eight of our top nine from a Final Four team. The expectations will be high and everyone will be out to get us. We’re looking forward to a great season.”

PARKWAY SOUTH PATRIOTS

2016-17 record: 17-10. Finished 8-1 to win Suburban West Conference. Lost to De Smet in Class 5 District 6 game.

Coach: Matt Roach, entering first year as head coach at Parkway South.

Returning: 8 players, 1 starters

Offense: Get up and down the court and be aggressive.

Defense: Hope to defend and rebound well and force the opponent to take difficult shots.

Team captains: The seniors.

Players to watch this season: All the varsity players.

Newcomers expected to contribute: Adam Sommer and Josh Skidmore

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None.

Team strengths: We are working on being a team who defends and rebounds well and who take great and unselfish shots.

Goals: To focus on the process and not the outcome. Our goal is to pay attention to the little details and build strong character men.

Suburban West Conference: Eureka, Fox, Lafayette, Lindbergh, Marquette, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville, Parkway South and Seckman

Favorites to win the conference: All teams have a chance to win the conference. It’s too early to pinpoint one team.

Teams in Class 5 District 5: CBC, De Smet Jesuit, Kirkwood, Parkway South and Rockwood Summit

Final thought: “These boys have been working hard each and every day,” Roach said. “It is a long season with ups and downs, but it our job as coaches to teach the process and not worry about the outcome. Pound the stone.”

PARKWAY WEST LONGHORNS

2016-17 record: 19-7. Finished 4-0 to win Suburban West -Division. Lost Class 4 District 6 game to St. Francis Borgia.

Coach: John Wright. Entering eighth year as head coach at Parkway West.

Returning: 6 players, 1 starter

Offense: Combination of sets and motion.

Defense: Tough man-to-man defense is always our foundation.

Team captains: To be determined.

Players to watch this season: Senior Jack Gieseking, senior Michael Akinwumi, senior Adrian Scott, sophomore Kyle Geraghty, senior Hermauhn Faulkner, senior Mitch Wills and senior Jack Morgan

Newcomers expected to contribute: Junior Josh Desu, junior Matt Miller, junior Trevin Coleman, junior Ryan Newman, junior Mark Morgan, junior James Lovings.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None.

Team strengths: We have some size and some quickness that we will try to take advantage of defensively and in our offensive sets. We will emphasize tough defense and maximizing our strengths on the offensive end.

Goals: Win a conference championship, win 20 games, play our best basketball when districts arrive.

Suburban Central Conference teams: National Division: Clayton, University City, Ladue, Parkway Central, Parkway West; American Division: Maplewood, McCluer South-Berkeley, Jennings, Affton and Normandy

Favorites to win the conference: Parkway Central and Parkway West

Class 4 District 6 teams: Pacific, Parkway West, St. Clair, St. Francis Borgia, Sullivan and Union

Final thought: “We are looking forward to the 50th year of Parkway West basketball this season,” Wright said. “Every day at practice we teach and emphasize the right way to play the game which has made our program successful in the long run. We believe that the 2017-18 edition of Longhorn basketball will rise to the high expectations we set every year and to earn success.”

PRINCIPIA PANTHERS

2016-17 record: 8-17. Finished last at 0-6 in Metro League. Lost to Whitfield in Class 3 District 4 game.

Coach: Kyle Johnson, entering second year as head coach at Principia.

Returning: 9 players, 4 starters

Offense: 4-out motion, half-court sets.

Defense: Man-to-man, 1-2-2 zone.

Team captains: Jeremy Fox

Players to watch this season: Senior G Kevin Wingert, senior G Caleb Grow, senior G Jeremy Fox, senior F Nathan Brantingham, junior G Will Towle and senior F Wisdom Thomas

Newcomers expected to contribute: Senior G Ben Kearney, junior F Nathan Babcock.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None.

Team strengths: Extremely hard working, play as a team, focused on getting better.

Goals: Win one tournament, get a conference win, compete in the district final.

Metro League teams: John Burroughs, Lutheran North, Lutheran South, MICDS, Principia, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy

Favorites to win the conference: MICDS  and Westminster

Teams in Class 3 District 4: Bayless, Bishop DuBourg, Hancock, Herculaneum, Principia, St. Louis College Prep Charter, Valley Park and Whitfield

Final thought: “We have an experienced core group of players returning this year,” Johnson said. “I expect us to be very competitive. I am excited to see what this team can accomplish on the court. They are fun to coach.”

PRIORY REBELS

2016-17 record: 15-11. Finished tied for fourth at 4-7 in Metro League. Lost second-round game in Class 4 District 5.

Coach: Bob McCormack, entering fifth year as head coach at Priory.

Returning: 6 players, 1 starter

Offense: Couple of different schemes. Try and play way we’re capable of playing.

Defense: Will mix it up. Do well with man and do well with zone. A variety of things.

Team captains: Seniors by committee. Like the guys to be able to show leadership. Will rotate each game with three different seniors.

Players to watch this season: Sophomore PG Charlie Ferrick, who started every game as a freshman. Seniors F/C Brett Griener, senior G/F James Dimitroff, senior F/C Frank Kostecki and senior G Charlie Berns

Newcomers expected to contribute: Senior PG Matt Spellman. Have some young freshman who will play some varsity ball, too.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None.

Team strengths: We’re one of those teams that really doesn’t have a superstar but a bunch of kids who work extremely hard and don’t like to lose. They give forth 100 percent in practice and will do the same in the games. They play smart, play hard and play as a team.

Goals: Like to do well in the conference. It’s really a tough conference. Like to win a couple of tournaments we are in. Be ready to play around district time.

Metro League teams: John Burroughs, Lutheran North, Lutheran South, MICDS, Principia, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy

Favorites to win the conference: MICDS, Lutheran North and Westminster

Teams in Class 4 District 5: John Burroughs, MICDS, Parkway Central, Parkway North, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy

Final thought: “For me, it’s a privilege to coach these young men at Priory,” McCormack said. “I have to tell you at these practices and just being around the kids, it’s so enjoyable for me and my assistants. They’re great kids. It’s fun every day. They’ll give it 100 percent. I have good intelligent IQ basketball kids. I only have say things one time and they know how to do it. Berns, Greiner, Ferrick all played on the state champion soccer team at Priory. I’d like to dream they can play on a state basketball team, too.”

WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN ACADEMY WILDCATS

2016-17 record: 18-9. Finished second at 9-2 in Metro League. Lost to MICDS in Class 4 District 5 game.

Coach: Dale Ribble, entering second year as head coach at Westminster.

Returning: 7 players. 1 starters:

Offense: Run when its available. Will run motion and some sets.

Defense: Man-to-man and some zone. Will press.

Team captains: Dominic Cusumano and Alex Token.

Players to watch this season: Senior G Dominic Cusumano, senior G Alex Token, senior F Logan Montgomery, junior G Jerram Adams and sophomore F Brennan Orf

Players on the team who have signed with a college: None

Team strengths: Unselfish team who makes the extra pass and we play good team defense.

Goals: Continue to improve each day and play best basketball at end of year.

Metro League teams: John Burroughs, Lutheran North, Lutheran South, MICDS, Principia, Priory and Westminster Christian Academy

Favorites to win the conference: MICDS and Lutheran North

Teams in Class 3 District 4: Bayless, Bishop DuBourg, Hancock, Herculaneum, Principia, St. Louis College Prep Charter, Valley Park and Whifield

Final thought: “I am excited to coach this team. We have players who are competitive and collectively we have a chance to be good,” Ribble said. “Our schedule will be challenging and we are excited to see ourselves learn and improve throughout the season.”

WHITFIELD WARRIORS

2016-17 record: 22-10. Won Class 3 District 4 championship. Finished second in state with a 78-68 loss to Transportation and Law.

Coach: Mike Potsou, entering 14th year as head coach at Whitfield.

Returning: 9 players, 4 starters

Offense and defense: Have a number of quality returning players who gained valuable expereince last season. A year later, we are more skilled and more mature so our goal is to improvie upon our 67.8 points per game average from last season. In order to do that, we will continue to play our fast tempo offense and blitzing defense.

Team captains: Not named.

Players to watch this season: Senior Torrence Watson, senior Amechi Ramsey, senior Ben Ayers, senior Jordan Harris, junior Luther Taylor, junior Aurelio Stucco, junior Dimitri Margelis, sophomore Max Holton, sophomore Drew Newlin.

Newcomers expected to contribute: Junior Dimitri Margelis, freshman Isaiah Alexander, freshman Eddie Simon.

Players on the team who have signed with a college: Torrence Watson has signed with Missouri.

Team strengths: Depth of quality players, team chemistry and style of play.

Goals: Our goals are to bring our best mental and physical effort with the goal of improving daily so we can be the best team possible while having fun.

Conference: Independent

Teams in Class 3 District 4: Bayless, Bishop DuBourg, Hancock, Herculaneum, Principia, St. Louis College Prep Charter, Valley Park and Whitfield

Final thought: “This team is a pleasure to coach because we have so many individuals who care for one another while pushing themselves in practices,” Potsu said. “Although demanding, our schedule will prepare us for the postseason and we are fortunate to be able to play in four invitational events this season.”

 

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