It was the first possession of the long season.

It was the first shot of Dean Noll's junior year.

And it was an omen - of a great opening game, at least, and perhaps of a special winter for Noll and the Shawnee boys' basketball team.

Noll hit a three-pointer jumper from the right corner just 30 seconds into the game, kick-starting Shawnee to an imposing 61-33 victory over Cherry Hill East on Friday afternoon in the season opener for both Olympic Conference teams.

Noll, a 6-foot-2 junior, finished with 22 points and four steals to lead a dominant performance by the Renegades on the Cougars' home court.

Junior forward Dylan Deveney added 11 points with five rebounds, and sophomore lead guard Pat Kernan collected eight points, four assists, and five rebounds for Shawnee, the No. 7 team in the Inquirer preseason Top 25.

"East is a good team," Shawnee coach Joe Kessler said. "To come in here for the first game, with their crowd, and play the way we played, I'm really pleased."

Senior forward Colin O'Donnell scored nine for Cherry Hill East, the No. 19 team in the preseason rankings.

"We can't turn the ball over," Cherry Hill East coach Dave Allen said. "That's what really hurt us. It was 12-10, and we turned it over, and they got going from there.

"Shawnee is a great team. They have experience. They can shoot. And you add in Coach Kessler, that's a recipe for beating any team."

Kessler was most impressed with his team's man-to-man defense. Cherry Hill East struggled to get open looks, and the Cougars had just 17 points entering the fourth quarter.

"They didn't shoot the ball well but I think we had something to do with that," Kessler said. "We played very, very good defense."

Although Shawnee doesn't start a senior, the Renegades are an experienced team, with several veterans from last year's 16-win squad.

Noll led the Renegades in scoring as a sophomore and started this season in a hurry, with a three-pointer on the first possession and 11 points in the first half.

"It was very important that we get off to a good start," Noll said. "We have great chemistry on this team, play together, have a lot of confidence in each other."

Noll helped the Renegades break the game open in the third quarter, scoring nine and converting a pair of steals into breakaway layups.

"Dean is one of our go-to guys," Kessler said. "He had a great game. But today it was Dean. The next game it might be somebody else.

"That's the good thing about this team, they share the ball. They move the ball. They play well together."

The Renegades resemble some of Kessler's top teams during the coach's 30-year career in their spacing, ball movement, and ability to shoot from distance. Shawnee made seven three-pointers.

"Not many teams can shoot like them," Allen said.

Noll was 8 for 11 from the field and 4 for 5 from the foul line, with a pair of three-pointers, including that tone-setter on the first possession.

"That first three, that was huge," Kessler said.

Shawnee 12 10 15 24 - 61

Cherry Hill East 5 6 6 16 - 33

S: Pat Kernan 8, Daevon Robinson 4, Sean Heine 5, Dean Noll 22, Dylan Deveney 11, Ryan Heine 3, Sam McNelis 1, Drew Brennan 3, Connor Deveney 4.

CHE: Evan Campbell 1, Joey DiAntonio 3, Bruce Neal 4, Colin O'Donnell 9, Will O'Kane 8, Sam Serata 2, Josh Hall 4, Brandon Starkman 2.

@PhilAnastasia

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