Encouraging season, future size puts Pequannock on the rise

By Mark Kitchin

Morriscountyvarsityboysbasketball

Pequannock 2012 season review

Expectation is a funny thing. A 10-win season might be considered a disappointment to some teams. When Pequannock finished with a 10-13 mark in the spring it was treated as a pleasant surprise. The veterans from a couple of memorable state tournament runs had graduated and it was thought that the Golden Panthers would be rebuilding during the 2011-12 season, but the players persevered and gave their fans some reasons to cheer over the course of the year.

“Last year I guess there weren’t a lot of expectations from a lot of people from the outside,’’ Pequannock coach Jeff DeBell said. “Winning 10 games was great. Going back to the state tournament was big for our program. We had some seniors step up. … I thought we had a good season. They were great, coachable kids. They worked very hard. Hopefully that will rub off on this group coming in.’’

Pequannock’s Jeff DeBell huddles with last year’s team. The Golden Panthers posted a double-digit victory total. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Season Highlights

Pequannock hovered around the .500 mark most of the year and reached a game into the win column several times. They could have finished on a winning note if they didn’t run into some late season losses to Randolph and Newton. They had an overtime win against Wallkill Valleyand season sweeps of Parsippany, Dover and Morris Catholic to boost their confidence. They split a pair of games against Roxbury, but the Gaels toppled the Golden Panthers in an early round Morris County Tournament game. They gave Newtona game but lost 43-38 on the road in opening round state tournament play.

Senior Leadership

The leadership of Ryan Brogan and David Colombo can’t be understated. They kept the Golden Panthers on an even keel and made their senior seasons memorable in the process.

“Ryan Brogan and David Colombo stepped up for us,’’ DeBell said. “They were great leaders for us. Ryan averaged about 16, 17 points a game for us. David was a defensive hustler, he moved the ball quick and he hit the three. They worked very hard and I was very pleased with them.

Colombo will be playing Division III soccer next year. Brogan will be attending Stockton where he hopes to make the team as a walk on. 

Nick Laporta (23) is the lone returning starter. He logged the most varsity minutes of all the Golden Panthers expected to come back. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Future Prospects

Pequannock has only one returning player with extensive varsity experience. The Golden Panthers are fortunate that he has ballhandling skills and can run the point.

“Nick Laporta is going to be our senior captain,’’ DeBell said. “We need Nick to step up for us. He played point guard for us last year. We didn’t have anybody else to fill that role and he’s not really a point guard. I’d like to try and move him to the two (shooting guard) to try to give us a little more scoring.’’

Pequannock has a strong sophomore class so many of their younger players may be thrown into the varsity mix early. DeBell can afford to do that because even though they are young, the Golden Panthers do have some players with size.

“A lot of these young guys are going to get a shot,’’ DeBell said. “We have a lot of sophomores that I really feel are going to contribute and be great players. They are going to get an opportunity to play. Ian Campbell is our big guy inside. He’s about 6-4, 6-5. James Hitchcock is another one.  Kevin Glynn is going to be a junior. He played some minutes for us last year. He’s going to be a big part of it. Kurt Weinmann is about 6-foot-4 and he’s going to be a senior. He’s working really hard to improve his game. We have some size.’’

DeBell is planning on giving the athletes plenty of opportunities. Having plenty of players also brings the opportunity for versatility and the chance to explore a variety of styles.

“Right now I’m planning on playing a lot of guys. I want to get these young guys some work any time. They are going to contribute,’’ DeBell said. “You never know who is going to step up. In certain lineups we could go big. We could go 6-foot-5, 6-4, 6-4.  A little bit of bulk inside. We can go smaller, too. Were going to see how it all plays out.’’

Baseball standout Tommy Zaher is also expected to lend his athletic talents to the basketball court. Guards Danny Ryan and Mike Leva saw limited varsity time last season and are also in the mix once the games started to get serious.

Kevin Glynn (44) is one of many Golden Panthers newcomers who will contribute size to the frontcourt. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)

Off-season plans

Pequannock has been busythis summer. The Golden Panthers finished a two-week stint in the William Paterson College Summer League. They scrimmaged Hawthorne Christian, Irvington, Wayne Valleyand a few Bergen Countyand South Jersey teams. They also entered a team in the Morris Knolls Summer League and although many of the players are involved in fall sports, the ones that favor basketball tend to keep busy.

Overall, Pequannock seems to feel good about the future. There are plenty of jobs open and anything is possible..

“You have to change to fit your personnel,’’ DeBell said. “The pre-season is going to be interesting to see who is going to win spots. It’s a young team, but we have four juniors who are going to be seniors that will get their shot as well.’’

 

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About mcvbb

Mark Kitchin is a boys varsity basketball writer for the Morris County New Jersey area

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