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BOYS' BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Downriver League preview one

Truman ready to defend league title

Loaded with talent, Truman stormed through the Downriver League last season and captured the title, losing only one game along the way.

Cougars Coach Chuck Suttles has some of his key players back this year and by all indications Truman is once again the team to beat in the DRL.

“I think if someone’s going to win it, it’s got to go though us and the only thing I think standing in our way is just us,” Suttles said. “I’m not taking anything away from any other teams, because I know there’s some very good teams and some guys who coach their teams up very well.

“We feel very fortunate to be in this situation, to be in a (competitive) league like this, but we feel that it’s ours to lose and we’re not planning on losing.”

Topping the list of returners is all-state senior forward Aaron Foster-Smith, who was the league’s best player a season ago and averaged 21.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

At point guard will be senior Devain Newbill, a 2012-13 All-News-Herald selection who averaged 11 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.6 steals per game.

Senior forward Anthony Wartley-Smith, who was also named to the All-News-Herald team as a junior, is back after averaging 10.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game for the league champs.

Battling for time at the guard spot will be juniors Kendarius Slaughter and Matthew Mason. Slaughter had a big year on the Truman junior varsity team last season and Mason is a transfer is from Inkster.

Seniors Donavin Rubens and Garett Atkins are back on the hardwood this season after not playing as 11th graders. Rubens, a standout on the football team this fall, brings a level of strength and speed that makes him valuable as a scorer and a defender, Scuttles said.

Two more players up from last year’s jayvee team are juniors Raishan West and Christopher Lampkin.

One hurdle the Cougars will have to overcome is the loss of senior D’Ante Barrow, a standout who would have likely been the starting point guard, had he not suffered an injury on the gridiron this fall.

“He certainly will be missed, he’s a great kid,” Suttles said. “It’s regrettable, (but) it’s just the way it goes. He’ll be at courtside I’m sure; he’s just that type of kid.”

Truman will begin its league title defense Friday night with a home game against Lincoln Park. The next day, the Cougars will hit the road and take on Orchard Lake St. Mary’s as part of the West Bloomfield High School Showcase.



Trenton

The 2012-13 Trenton season included a district title, a trip to a regional final and a 10-win effort in league play that earned the Trojans second place, just behind Truman.

For first-year Trenton Coach James Babyak, repeating that kind of success looks to be very tough, as the squad graduated five seniors. Also, the Trojans have moved up to Class A this season, likely making another postseason run more challenging.

“My expectation for this year is to rebuild a solid, fundamentally sound team,” Babyak said. “Losing five key seniors from last year leaves some big holes to fill this year.”

The Trojans’ top player this season will be senior Chase Abraham, who was injured for most of his junior campaign. Babyak said his athleticism and aggressiveness in attacking the basket will be a big factor for Trenton.

Senior Jerry LaBell, a returning starter, is a strong scoring threat who has a quality outside jumper. Babyak said LaBell will provide leadership for the young squad, as well.

Junior Christian Mercure, also a returning starter, is a valuable offensive weapon for the Trojans, as he is a threat to charge the basket and score or hit a shot from the outside.

Another senior who will play is Chris Roussey, and two underclassmen set to get time on the hardwood are freshman Ryan Barker and sophomore Jaylin Jordan.

Also on the roster is senior Matt Smellie, as well as juniors Dylan Berry, Tyler Butkin, Tyler Deister, Nick Porreca, Luke Steffke, Denny Szczechowski and Brady Tanguay.

The Trojans open the new season Friday night with a league game at Melvindale.



Carlson

For the second consecutive season, Carlson brought home a district championship last year.

Although four talented seniors from that team have graduated, Marauders Coach Rob Raymond is confident his squad, which finished 17-6 overall last year, will be competitive at the right time this season.

“I think it’s going to be tough for us in the Downriver League,” he said. “I think we’re going to lose some games early because we’re young, but I think by the end of the year we’ll be like we have been the last two years, competing for a district championship.”

Returning senior guards Jared Henderson and Alex Rahming will lead the way, as will junior point guard Jarrett Atkinson.

Henson hit a team-leading 27 three pointers last year and was fourth on the squad with 141 points. Rahming helped lead Carlson to the district finals last year with 14 points against Roosevelt in the semis, 12 of which were scored in the second half.

At forward, junior Prince Ideozu and returning seniors Torrey Gray and Mark McDade will battle for time this season. Both Gray and McDade saw limited action on varsity last year.

Other players Raymond will look to this year for contributions are returning seniors Kyle Cox and Aaron Herman, as well as sophomore Zach Kohn. Cox got into 21 games last year, while Herman played in eight.

Rounding out the roster are seniors AJ Gary, Alex Headon and Dylan Brock, as well as juniors Adam Lizyness, Joe Enwerejobi, Kyle Howard, Eric Webb and Zach Moore.

The 2013-14 campaign gets underway for Carlson with a nonleague game Tuesday at Grosse Ile. Three nights later, the Marauders begin DRL play with a trip to Roosevelt.



Roosevelt

This season, the Roosevelt basketball team will be led onto the court by a new head man, as veteran assistant Shawn Stewart has taken over for longtime Bears’ Coach Dave Cramton.

Stewart is taking the reins of a team that went 14-7 overall last year and 8-6 in the Downriver League.

“We as a team and a program will continue to work hard in the tradition that was established and built by Dave Cramton,” he said. “Having worked for Dave the last eight years I got a chance to see how a prepared, tough, quality program is run.”

Starting this season will be five players who all have varsity basketball experience and all played on the district championship football team this fall.

At point guard will be junior Donovan Stewart, who served as starting quarterback on the gridiron, while one of his top receivers, sophomore Donnie Corely, will be at guard.

Senior co-captains Tommy Cannon and Jacob Lavis will start at forward, as will sophomore Tyler Thorington.

Lavis, who is currently being scouted by Navy, will be the team’s vocal leader and go-to guy under the basket, Stewart said.

Players expected to contribute off the bench, at guard, will be senior Nate Eady and juniors Ramases Patterson, Tyler White and Devin Parker. At forward, Stewart will look for help from senior Eric Tyson and juniors Mike Arciszewski and Alex Jerzewski. Also on the roster are senior guards Jerry Gorski and Matt Baker and junior guard Dylan Powell.

The Roosevelt season kicks off on the road with a game Tuesday at Ypsilanti.



Anderson

Although Anderson finished fifth in the 2012-13 Downriver League standings, and lost early in districts, the team showed a lot of promise along the way.

Titans’ Coach Dave Pratt saw his squad, which had only one senior, win eight of the last 11 games, including a victory against Truman, which gave the Cougars their only league loss.

“We’re very excited with our team,” he said. “We had a good year last year (and have) a lot of returners back. We feel like we can compete for a league championship.”

In the line-up again this year is senior center Connor Phee, along with junior forward Joe Galetto, and junior guards Trey Harris and Dejon Matthews. Last season Phee made the News-Herald Dream Team, as he developed into one of the best players in the post and averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds per game.

Other guards on the Anderson roster this year are senior Richard Hodnicki and juniors Dylan Steel and Juwan Graham. Listed as forwards are juniors Blake Sloan and Terrance Johnson, while junior Jason Allen could play either position this winter.

The Titans will open their season on the road with a nonleague game Tuesday, as they’ll travel to Saline to take on the Hornets.







Last Updated: 12/7/2013 12:50:17 PM EST

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