Looking for return to sectional finals

Of the 10 Tri-County Conference teams that qualified for the playoffs last season, two - Gloucester Catholic and Penns Grove - reached the sectional title game. Both lost, so you can be sure a return trip is high on both teams' agendas.

The NJSIAA boys' basketball tournaments begin Feb. 25. The cutoff date, where all qualifying teams must have a .500-or-better record, is Feb. 2. Brackets will be posted to


Feb. 7.

Intelligence quotient.

Williamstown's starting guard, Brian Kelly and Collin Whipple, rank No. 2 and No. 4 in their class, respectively.

Milestone watch

. Williamstown's Whipple and Clayton's Ray Sanders are on pace to score 1,000 points, and Schalick's Matt Kates has an outside shot. . . . Clearview's Nevin Potts broke the school record for steals last year, with 131.

New skippers.

Longtime assistant Les Berry takes over at Schalick, replacing six-year veteran Sean Collins. Collins, who led the Cougars to the Group 1 state title game in 2004-05, is at Apex Academy, a post-grad prep school in Pennsauken. Senior twins Markese and Markel Douglas, both 6-foot-2 forwards, should add athleticism to the Schalick frontcourt, and Berry said he thinks senior guard Howie Ryan, a key reserve last year, could be one of the area's top scorers. Ryan averaged about 10 points per contest as a junior, Berry said.

Highland has a new coach in Andy Theis and returns one starter - 5-11 senior point guard Marquise Alford - from a 17-11 campaign. Theis will look for contributions from a number of returning lettermen, including Chris Mims, Sal Pistone, Tedd Teschner and Bobby Painter.

Woodstown also has a new coach, Jeff Podolski. The Wolverines return one starter in 6-1 forward Brian Lewis, a senior.

He's back.

Overbrook boys' coach Charles Marciano is counting on the return of 6-1 senior swingman Dontae Johnson and 5-9 senior point guard Reggie Jackson to boost the Rams. Johnson, a second-team all-conference pick, averaged 11.5 points as a junior.

Marciano said he's also expecting big things from 5-10 freshman Danny Wilson, already one of Overbrook's biggest players, and junior varsity callups Jesse Weast and Nick Menear.

Around the league. Kingsway returns a pair of 6-0 guards in senior Robert Page and junior Jared Flynn. Page, a first-team Tri-Co pick as a junior, won the Group 3 100-meter title and carries a 4.0 GPA.. . . Gloucester is 10-11 players deep, according to head coach Tom Torrillo. Returning guards Jeremy Collins, a 5-8 senior, and Brett Darrow, a 6-1 junior, lead the way. . . . Gloucester Tech will rely on its quickness and discipline to try to rebound from a winless season. . . . Pennsville and Pitman each return one starter. For Pennsville, coming off a 3-22 campaign, it's 6-0 guard Ryan Karr, who averaged nine points per contest. Pitman's Marcus Corbitt returns to lead a relatively deep Panthers squad that went 17-10.

- Geoff Dodd