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CHSAA Preview                     

The defending CHSAA champion is St. Raymond and they are the favorites to repeat.  This team lost 6 seniors including New York State Mr. Basketball Peter Mulligan.  But they went out and got two top Sophomores Daon Merritt and Elijah Mildruw.  Along with these two they still have Mr. Basketball favorite Julius Hodge, Chris McRae, Alan Ray and Jay Harper.  This team may have trouble getting rebounds because there tallest player is a guard.  Excellent interior defense by Chris McRae will counted on greatly for this team to live up to its top 5 national ranking they are receiving.  Hodge and McRae will also have to dominate the boards as well as score.  Point guard play for this team is not a problem with Harper and Merritt, turnovers will be at a minimum while points and assists will be very high.  The team that poses the biggest threat to St. Ray's is their nemesis, Rice.  Rice has an NBA type frontline with 7'2 Shagari Alleyne, 6'9 Shakeim Mitchell and 6'7 Andre Vanterpool.  The frontcourt play is not the question for Rice its the guard play.  If Jason Wingate, Kenny Eusey and Keydren Clark can play up to expectations this team will be very tough to beat.  Rice will count on Wingate to be agressive and to look for his shot rather than look for his teammates as his 1st, 2nd and 3rd options.  Another team that has high expectations this year is Molloy.  Molloy is the only contender that will start a sophomore point guard, and the play of Marlon Smith will be the key to them winning.  If Smith plays like a poised senior rather than an immature sophomore Molloy will be dangerous.  The one thing that isn't a question is the play of Wendell Gibson.  Everyone knows he will produce, both scoring and grabbing rebounds.  The perimeter play of John Sikiric will also be important.  If he can knock down the 3 consistently as well as take the ball to the basket he will make this team deserving of a national ranking.  Molloy will also need Stephon CHerry, Jamar Wagner and Kirk Bunn to play well up front.  
       The second tier of teams who will challenge for the title consists of Bishop Loughlin and All Hallows.   Loughlin lost in the semifinals last year after holding a double digit lead in the game.  They have lost Mike Boynton and Terrance Watkins.  They still have superstar Curtis Sumpter.  Sumpter will score and rebound just as he did last year when averaging 14 points and 8 rebounds a game.  This year exect numbers like 20 & 10.  This team will also need  Teddy Munford to step up and live up to the expectations he had entering high school.  Munford can hit the 3 and get his teammates involved.  But Loughlin will depend on Munford to look for his shot since they lack scorers.  I have heard Jason Olive has improved greatly and if he can provide them with a 3rd scorer Loughlin may be able to put a scare into Molloy for the Brooklyn/Queens Championship.  All Hallows has improved greatly.  They have a similar problem as St. Ray's there top 6 players are all guards.  But when you have guards like RIcky Soliva, Bobby Santiago, Rashawn Vaughn, Marvin McCullough, James Brown and Kenny McMillan it is a good problem.  But probably the most important player on this team is Leon Fuller.  If he can play good post defense on players like Shagari Alleyne, Wendell Gibson, Curtis Sumpter and Chris McRae All Hallows may be a serious contender.  Soliva will have a breakout year and will have every college in the nation after him.
Other Good Teams:
Xaverian (Chris Taft, Shaun Wynn, Shaheen McNair & Chris Alesi)
Christ the King (Kelvin Nelson, Japhet McNeil, Rob Barrett, Brian Williams)

Top 15 Players
1. Julius Hodge, St. Raymond, Senior
2. Chris McRae, St. Raymond, Senior
3. Wendell Gibson, Molloy, Senior
4. Curtis Sumpter, Bishop Loughlin, Junior
5. Ricky Soliva, All Hallows, Junior
6. Alan Ray, St. Raymond, Junior
7. Rashad Bell, St. Francis Prep, Senior
8. Teddy Munfurd, Bishop Loughlin, Senior
9. John Sikiric, Molloy, Senior
10. Daon Merrit, St. Raymond, Sophomore
11. Jason Wingate, Rice, Junior
12. Shagari Alleyne, Rice, Sophomore
13. Kelvin Nelson, Christ the King, Junior
14. Kevin Bishop, McClancy, Senior
15. Rob Barrett, Christ the King, Senior

Predictions
Semifinals- B/M #1 St. Raymond over B/M #3 All Hallows
B/M #2 Rice over B/Q #1 Molloy
Championship- B/M #1 St. Raymond over B/M #2 Rice
Player of the Year- Julius Hodge St. Raymond
Rookie of the Year- Ricky Soliva
(From what I have heard there are no freshmen playing varsity in the CHSAA A division so the Rookie of the Year award is for a player that this year is his first on varsity.  The only player I haven't heard anything about is Sundiata Gaines so if anybody knows if he is playing varsity please let me know.)















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