Foes have respect
When you talk about consistent boys' basketball programs, Haddonfield has to be a major part of the conversation.
Haddonfield has won 20 or more games in nine straight seasons. Highlighting that span was an 87-7 record during 7-foot-2 Brian Zoubek's three years as a starter. But even after Zoubek took his talents to Duke last year, Haddonfield was still dominant, compiling a 25-6 record while winning the South Jersey Group 2 and Colonial Conference titles.
During each of the last four seasons, Haddonfield has captured both the Group 2 and Colonial crowns. So it's no wonder that, even though the Bulldogs welcome back just one starter this season, they are deeply respected.
"You never count Haddonfield out," Woodbury coach Tom Bowe said. "They're so well-drilled and so well-coached. They run everything like they're Princeton."
Rob MacFeeters, a 6-foot-4 senior forward who averaged seven points per game last season, is Haddonfield's lone returning starter. But Haddonfield has three other returning players with varsity experience: Dave Campbell, who is a quality three-point shooter; T.J. Zaleski, and Greg Console. Will Knight, a transfer from Downingtown West, will also be a key contributor.
Haddonfield coach Paul Wiedeman begins the season with a 201-33 career record.
Sterling eyes title.
Led by Jack Brennan, Sterling is aiming for its first Colonial title since the 2001-02 season.
The 6-6, 225-pound Brennan, one of the area's best inside players, and 6-1 senior Gabe Albanese are returning starters from a 20-7 team. Brennan, 6-5 Jeff Cross, and 6-4 Nigel Green give the Silver Knights good size. Jaheem Taylor, Chris Ward, Brian Cunning and Markeith Palmer will steady the backcourt.
New coach at Lindenwold.
Harold Little, the former Highland coach, will have two returning starters in his first season at Lindenwold.
Marquell and Marquis Watkins, a pair of 5-10 senior guards, are the returning starters. Lindenwold also will benefit from three transfers: 6-4 Kerron Brown (Maple Shade), 6-5 William Updegraff (Florida) and 6-5 Taylor Budd (Rancocas Valley).
The Thundering Herd seem to be improved from last season's 14-12 team. Woodbury return two of its top players - 6-4 Keith Davis and 6-1 Mark DiRugeris - along with Dave Hughes and James Bundy. Marcus Davis is also a potential starter.
Woodbury will be helped by sophomore twins Isaiah and Dared Roberts, a pair of raw-but-promising 5-10 guards.
Greenwald leads Eagles.
A.J. Greenwald, one of the conference's best point guards, will try to steer West Deptford to a Group 3 playoff berth. Greenwald, a 5-11 junior, averaged 14.5 points and six assists per game last season.
Kadeem Hall, who helped the Eagles win a sectional football title, is another key player, along with Charlie McShane, Michael Schultes, Corey Hort and Dan McGowan.
Heights is hopeful.
Four returning starters give Haddon Heights optimism. Leading the way are senior guards Mike Selby and Paul Blocker; senior forwards Jeff Pauls (6-0) and A.J. Toliver (6-2) are also returning starters.
Heights will needed balanced scoring to replace Kai Massaquoi (22.5 ppg.), who graduated and is now at Stockton.
Around the league.
Gateway made modest strides as it went 5-21 last season - up from three wins the previous season - and the improvement should continue. The Gators have nice size, and 6-4 sophomore John Miller is an emerging player. . . . . Audubon will start two sophomores - 6-6 Wade Gies and 6-6 Brandon Hill - and at least one freshman (either T. J. Tassi or Pete Coulter) as it rebuilds. Football standout Steve Rizzo, a 6-5 senior who was one of the Green Wave's top scorers last year, is bypassing basketball. . . . Senior point guard Dan Reed will lead Haddon Township, which is aiming for its first winning season since 2000-01.
- Sam Carchidi