Huge loss for Riverside
The boys' basketball landscape has been altered in the Burlington County League, where a towering talent has moved upstate.
David Laury, a 6-foot-6 senior who averaged 23.9 points last season for Riverside, was ruled academically ineligible and has transferred to a North Jersey school, according to Rams coach Paul Collins.
"I heard that he went to East Orange or Bloomfield Tech, but I'm not sure which one," Collins said.
The departure of one of South Jersey's preeminent big men has significantly altered this season's prospects for Riverside, which shared the Freedom Division title with Burlington City and again was considered a threat for the crown.
"This is definitely a rebuilding year," said Collins, who will begin his 34th season as a varsity coach with a record of 600-240. "I don't enjoy losing a blue-chip prospect."
Three seniors return with varsity experience - Cory Williams, Mike Wosco and Tony Caruso - after combining to average 20 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists last season.
Change of season blues.
Football success is nothing new to Moorestown, where the Quakers completed a 12-0 season by capturing the Central Jersey Group 3 championship.
But in extending their gridiron run, six of the 11 players on the varsity boys' basketball roster also delayed their transition from pads and cleats to shorts and sneakers.
"The football team's success has kept most of our players out of action. I'm hoping the team can hang on until January and then start rounding into [basketball] shape," Quakers coach Tim O'Reilly said.
To further complicate matters, 5-10 senior guard Adam Gierlach is still recovering from a back injury, according to the coach.
Among those who suited up for the title-winning football team were 6-2 senior forward Bryan Burnham, 6-0 senior forward Jim Schneider, 5-8 senior guard Matt Emerson, and 5-10 junior forward Jim Doyle.
Turning up the jets.
Palmyra has experience, with four returning starters. But the Panthers, with no player taller than 6-3, lack size.
No problem, according to coach Mike Tumelty, who plans to unleash his thoroughbreds in an up-tempo style designed to produce easy baskets.
"We must take advantage of our team speed, because we are a team of guards," Tumelty said. "Rebounding will be a weakness, so we need to create turnovers."
Seniors Cliff Glaze and Ken Mack return, along with junior backcourt mates Warren Oliver and Quron Pratt. Junior center Kyle Sheppard will be in the starting lineup.
Size is no concern for Pemberton and coach Roy Heck, who believes that 6-5 senior Chris Walker and 6-4 senior Tyquan Curtis will help the Hornets, 11-15 last season, make some noise in the rugged Liberty Division.
Pemberton has no starter listed under 6-foot, and a trio of juniors - 6-4 bookends Terrell Barton and Anthony Berry, and 6-3 Rodney Brown - could make big contributions off the bench.
- Pete Schnatz