Boys high school basketball preview capsules


New Hanover's Kadeem Allen drives in against Hoggard's Trevor Singleton during the 2012 Boys MEC Tournament Finals at New Hanover High School. (Photo by StarNews file photo)


Mideastern Conference

 

Ashley

Last Year's Record: 9-13 (Did not qualify for playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 1 

Key returning players: TJ Williams, Sr. C; Tyre Gathwright, Soph. G 

Quotes from coach: "We feel we have the pieces to really make a legitimate run this year and we obviously want to finish as high as we can in the conference, but our goal is to advance in the playoffs," said Ashley coach Bryn McSwain.

Hoggard

Last Year's Record: 18-8 (Lost at Clayton in second round of Class 4A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 3 

Key returning players: Trevor Singleton, Jr. F; Joe O'Donnell, Sr. G 

Quotes from coach: "We have quite a bit coming back from last year and so I think our guys have high expectations for our season," said Hoggard coach Brett Queen. "We do have to fill some holes from last year with what Tyler (Thayer) gave us from the outside and what Darius (Plummer) gave us from the inside."

Laney

Last Year's Record: 13-12 (Lost at Middle Creek in first round of Class 4A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 1 

Key returning players: Ty Balcombe, Jr. G; Nick Hufham, Sr. G 

Quotes from coach: "We bring back a lot of returners and we have some experience, but at the same time we have some talented sophomores that are playing up," said Laney coach Nathan Faulk.

New Bern

Last Year's Record: 5-15 (Did not qualify for playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 4 

Key returning players: Theron Noble, Jr. G; Collin Jacobs, Soph. F 

Quotes from coach: "Our expectations are to play harder than we did last year," said New Bern coach Clifton Dillard. "We should be more of a team than we were."

New Hanover

Last Year's Record: 30-1 (Won Class 4A state championship) 

Returning Starters: 2 

Key returning players: Nigel Holley, Sr. C; Trevon Brown, Sr. G 

Quotes from coach: "Every single season our expectations are to hold home court every game and we‘ve done that the last 2½ years," said New Hanover coach Kirk Angel. "We want to win the conference, win the conference tournament and give ourselves a chance to go deep in the playoffs."

Rose

Last Year's Record: 11-14 (Lost at Millbrook in first round of Class 4A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 0 

Key returning players: Sam Harris Sr. F; Malik Braxton, So. F 

Quotes from coach: "It‘s a really, really new team, so we are just trying to get better every day," said Rose coach James Rankins. "We want to be a very competitive team when conference gets here."

 

Waccamaw Conference

East Bladen

Last Year's Record: 19-6 (Lost at High Point Andrews in first round of Class 2A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 3

Key returning players: Devonte Beatty, Sr. C; Jaquan Jones, Jr. F 

Quotes from coach: "I'm cautiously optimistic," said coach Ken Cross, noting his defense should be the strongest element of the team. "They've got to do the simple stuff and they've got to play as a team." 

North Brunswick

Last Year's Record: 16-9 (Lost at Beddingfield in third round of Class 2A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 4

Key returning players: Adam Jacobs, Sr. PG; Nik Sloan, Sr. G 

Quotes from coach: "We've got high expectations," coach Bryan Hayes said of a roster that features eight seniors. "We've been working hard in the off-season. We're not going to be intimidated by anybody ... and we're going to play hard every time we get on the court." 

South Brunswick

Last Year's Record: 9-14 (Lost at West Craven in second round of Class 3A playoffs)

Returning Starters: 2

Key returning players: James Prince, Sr. F/C; Dylan Mosely, Sr. F

Quotes from coach: "I think we are a more talented basketball team this year, from a basketball perspective," coach Scott Wainwright said. "We've got to get that toughness that last year's team had. I think this group has a ways to go to reach its ceiling, but their ceiling's a little bit higher than last year's team." 

South Columbus

Last Year's Record: 6-15 (Did not qualify for playoffs)

Returning Starters: 3

Key returning players: Pharoah McKever, Sr. C; Diontre Gerald, Jr. PF

Quotes from coach: "From what I see, we're going to be much more athletic than people are used to at South Columbus," said coach Fielding Hammond. "We've got a lot of length and I think we've got some quickness." 

West Brunswick

Last Year's Record: 15-12 (Lost to South Central in second round of Class 3A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 4

Key returning players: Markel Jones, Sr. G; Jawon McNeil, Sr. C

Quotes from coach: "I really feel our program is moving in the right direction," said coach Eric Davis. "We're just so far ahead from where we've been the past two years. Everything begins on the defensive end with us."

West Bladen

Last Year's Record: 21-7 (Lost to Burlington Cummings in third round of Class 2A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 2

Key returning players: Malcolm Vaught, Soph. G; Devonta Smith, Sr. G

Quotes from coach: "I hate to use the word rebuilding, but obviously expectations are different," said coach Travis Pait, noting he lost five seniors from last year's roster. "We're a very young team. We've got to get better." 

Whiteville

Last Year's Record: 7-15 (did not qualify for playoffs)

Returning Starters: 

Key returning players: 

 

Tri-County Conference

James Kenan

Last Year's Record: 21-9 (Lost to West Columbus in third round of Class 1A playoffs)

Returning Starters: 2

Key returning players : TJ Fullwood, Jr. G; Antonio Smith, Sr. G

Quotes from coach: "With the loss of two big kids from last year we will be completely different team, more up-tempo, and guard oriented," said coach Jeff Lane. "We have a lot of kids that are still playing football and we have just had preliminary practices. I think once we get everything in place we will be very competitive, but we may not be as good off the start as we were last year."

Trask

Last Year's Record: 9-15 (Lost at Wallace-Rose Hill in first round of Class 1A playoffs)

Returning Starters: 3

Key returning players: D.J. Love, Sr. SG; Kemodrick James, Sr. F

Quotes from coach: "We will be very quick and try to run the floor, but also undersized and we will need to box out on defense," said Rodney Orr. "The other returning player is Rasheed Brown Jr., who averaged 18 points a game last year and we will depend on him again a lot this year."

Pender

Last Year's Record: 3-15 (Did not qualify for playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 0

Key returning players: Thomas Mitchell, Sr. G; Tyrese Murphy, Jr. G

Quotes from coach: "We should be a much-improved team. We are young, but experienced and we have a 6-6 freshman name Quate McKenzie that will start for us and he is a great player that played at Chris Paul's camp over the summer," said coach Gary Battle. "Our bench should be strong, since a lot of the guys got experience last year on varsity."

Wallace-Rose Hill

Last Year's Record: 14-14 (Lost at James Kenan in second round of Class 1A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 2

Key returning players: Marquel Newkirk, Sr. G; Jaquayle Robinson, Sr. PG

Quotes from coach: "Three seniors from last year and two sophomores that saw significant playing time last year. We should have a deeper bench with 10-11 players that will see playing time this year," said Steve Robinson. "This is the first time in years that we haven't been playing football past Thanksgiving and it should help us to get everything going early." 

 

Around the Area

Coastal Christian

Last Year's Record: 15-13 (Did not qualify for playoffs)

Returning Starters: 2

Key returning players: Nick Chase, Sr. F; Wesley Age, Sr. PG

Quotes from coach: "We lost a lot of height, but with eight seniors we have gained a stronger bench and should be a better team," said coach Craig Wheeler. "A key for us is that we must rebound well as a team and we have to play intense defense." 

Cape Fear Academy

Last Year's Record: 15-12 (Lost in first round of NCISAA 2A playoffs) 

Returning Starters: 2 

Key returning players: Daniel McRae, Sr. F; Evan Head, Jr. G

Quotes from coach: "Right now we are trying to mold our team out of some returners that are used to exactly how we are doing things with some new guys that aren‘t as experienced," said Cape Fear Academy coach Loren Baysden. "We have two sophomores on the team that will be getting valuable minutes."

East Columbus

Last Year's Record: 11-13 (Lost at Goldsboro in first round of Class 1A playoffs)

Returning Starters: 4 

Key returning players: Ronald Ratliff, Sr. G; Elijah Gresham, Jr. C 

Quotes from coach: "We have eight returning players and four of those guys were starters last season," said coach Curtis Moss. "Our bench and senior leadership will be our strength. We haven't practiced yet since most of our players are playing football; so when we start playing we just have to go out and work hard."

East Duplin

Last Year's Record: 12-14 (Did not qualify for playoffs)

Returning Starters: 1 

Key returning players : Montel Starlings, Sr. F; Chris Scarbrough, Sr. PG

Quotes from coach: "We have a hard-working bunch of guys this year. We will be a small quick team and size will be one of our weaknesses," said coach Robert Ross. "Our point guard will be the key to our success and we must take care of the basketball." 

Topsail

Last Year's Record: 18-9 (Lost at Kinston in second round of Class 2A playoffs)

Returning Starters: 3

Key returning players: Jerrad Sullivan, Sr. G; Trevor Savage, Sr. F

Quotes from coach: "With the three returning starters, we will have strong senior leadership and several kids coming back that played significant time last year," said coach Jeff Gainey. "The key is to get everyone to blend together." 

Wilmington Christian

Last Year's Record: 8-18 (Lost in second round of NCISAA Class 3A playoffs)

Returning Starters: 3

Key returning players: Jake Connor, Sr. PG; Jonah Attoe, Soph. G

Quotes from coach: "I like the energy level," said coach Craig Tucker, noting he has added some size inside. "I think we're still going to play to the perimeter a lot." 

 

– Capsules compiled by Tom Grady, Tim Hower and Shannon Leslie