Coming back home. Twenty-one seasons later, Joe Rapczynski returns to the Philadelphia basketball scene to take the boys' reins at Garnet Valley.
Rapczynski spent the previous 18 seasons coaching at Brandywine (Del.) High. In 1987, he coached his alma mater, North Catholic, to a Catholic League title with an upset over heavily favored Roman Catholic, and left North two years later. The Philadelphia native had roomed with Joe Bryant at La Salle University, as the two played under legendary coach Paul Westhead.
"It's great to be able to renew friendships, and being back here really invigorates me," Rapczynski said.
The Jaguars won just one game last season and will be without junior guard Joe DeCarlo, as he is focusing on baseball after committing to Georgia before last season. The frontcourt will be manned by 6-foot-4 senior center Joe Schiavo, who missed half of last season because of a foot injury.
"In this situation, we're going to need contributions from eight to 10 kids a night in order to stay competitive," Rapczynski said.
Balancing sports. After losing its all-time leading scorer with the graduation of Kelyn Freedman, the Radnor girls' basketball team will rely on senior Chandler Lally to emerge as a dominant presence in the low post.
The 5-10 forward most likely will miss the Raiders' season opener, because of a rowing event in Texas. Lally, a four-year varsity basketball starter, will attend the University of Virginia on a crew scholarship, and was a member of last year's U.S. Junior Olympic crew team.
Coach Mark Jordan said his team will rely on strong guard play to help slow the game's tempo and to work the ball inside to Lally as much as possible.
"Once she gets going, she's hard to stop," Jordan said of Lally, who averaged 10 points and seven rebounds last season.
Building a program. After capturing the sixth league title in the program's 52-year history, Penncrest coach Mike Doyle believes his boys' team can stay competitive despite having graduated nine seniors. The Lions return senior small forward Ian Campbell, who averaged 10 points last season.
"It's taken a long time, but we think we've built a program here," said Doyle, who has seen an improved record in each of his eight years at the helm. "These guys saw how hard the older kids worked, and examples have been set by previous years."