Burlco teams build with youth
The majority of front-line stars around the Burlco are seniors returning to starting spots. But for programs who want to remain on top, as well as those teams with designs on moving up the competitive ladder, the search for - and development of - talented underclassmen is vital.
That is the case at Burlington City, where the Blue Devils are considered by rival coaches to be the prohibitive favorite to defend their Freedom Division championship despite losing seven players from last season's squad.
"There is a great opportunity for our young players to step into varsity roles and help our team compete," Burlington coach Jim Flynn said, noting that four starters graduated.
Flynn's primary objective is to find complementary pieces to fit around 6-foot-3 senior forward Kris Corry, who averaged 16.3 points per game during last season's 23-6 title drive. Alphonso Bradford, a 5-11 sophomore guard, and 6-3 junior forward Najee Mitchell are the only varsity veterans among a group of eight whom Flynn has handpicked.
New Egypt's hopes to challenge for the division crown will rest on the emerging talents of 6-8, 230-pound junior center Kevin Janowski, who averaged 12 points and nine rebounds for the 10-15 Warriors last season. Coach Jay Corby will also be counting on more offensive production from defensive ace Dakota Havens and increased long-range shooting from fellow junior guard Ron Tortoriello. There are four other underclassmen on the roster, including 6-8, 180-pound sophomore Desmond Hubert.
Second-year coach Scott Kupersmit is looking down the road at Burlington Township, where 5-11 junior guard Quincy Hendryx is the lone returning starter from last year's 15-12 club.
Citing the Falcons' overall quickness, Kupersmit said, "We can make the playoffs if things break our way, and the future is bright with an outstanding freshmen class."
Northern Burlington coach Herman Johnson is quite familiar with the youngster he has entrusted to run his offense - having named his son, 5-11 freshman Jayson Johnson, as the starting point guard.
"He is quick, athletic and a very competent defender, and his best asset is his ability to see the floor and get others involved," the coach said.
The Greyhounds also will rely on the versatility of 6-3 sophomore swingman James "Boomer" Walton.
A trio should keep Willingboro in the Liberty Division hunt. Coach Jeff Haddock has penciled 5-10 freshman Chris Lewis in at point guard, and is counting heavily on 5-11 sophomore guard Jarvis Perry and 6-7 junior center Karee Furgeson.
- Pete Schnatz