Pequannock Mid-Summer Preview
By Mark Kitchin
By the end of the 2013-14 season the Pequannock Golden Panthers felt equal measures of pride and sadness. The pride that came from winning a state tournament game was tempered with the loss of the team’s most loyal supporter.
“We won some tight games early on,” Pequannock coach Jeff DeBell said. “Then we had a rough February. We lost a number of games in a row but the guys kept playing hard. They continued to get better. We got a home state game. We beat Mountain Lakes in the states. It was a big win for us coming off of my dad’s passing.”
The sudden illness and death of Frank DeBell put life in perspective for the players who all knew him from all the games he attended. The 53-48 victory gave everyone a reason to cheer during the time of sadness.
“Mr. DeBell was always at our games,” senior forward Kevin Glynn said at the time. “He would have been here today. Since my freshman year he had been watching me play and supporting the team. I still remember him coming in the summer league, fall and spring leagues and always telling me how to get better.”
Pequannock’s season ended with a double-digit loss to a good Pascack Hills team and finished 9-16. Despite their struggles the Golden Panthers believed the struggles of last season were something to build upon. They are looking forward to more positive results this winter.
The win over Mountain Lakes showed that the Pequannock players gaining some maturity and perseverance. The Golden Panthers held a 50-39 lead with less than two minutes and held on to the advantage after the Lakers went on a 9-0 run. Kevin Glynn knocked down some free throws late to secure the win. Of the graduating players Glynn was the most consistent. He was a strong player and finisher who had inside presence.
“We lost five seniors,” DeBell said. “Our main player was Kevin Glynn. He started for us for two years and played varsity as a sophomore. He was our main scorer. When we needed somebody inside we looked to him. He had a great career for us, so he will definitely be missed.”
Pequannock started the season with a 54-17 rout of Kinnelon. The Golden Panthers hovered around the .500 mark all year and stood at 7-8 on February 6. However, they swooned the final month only winning two of their last 10 games. In Morris County Tournament action Pequannock earned a preliminary round victory over Madison before falling to West Morris on the road in opening round play.
Other players that have graduated included tandem point guards Christian Coppola and Joe Koetters.
Pequannock coach Jeff DeBell has an interesting and capable mix of players to work with this winter. (Photo by Mark Kitchin)
This year’s team does not lack athleticism. Even though basketball might not be the primary sport of Ian Campbell or Bryan Peters, their abilities will certainly come into play.
“Ian Campbell is coming back as a senior,” DeBell said. “He signed for football at UConn. He got taller and he filled out. He looks pretty big. He’s about 6-6. He’s working hard on football but hopefully we will look to him inside.”
Bryan Peters is known more for his lacrosse exploits, but at the guard spot he has good vision and a great perimeter shot.
“He was our top scorer,” DeBell said. “He is a great athlete. He can help us. He’s a perimeter guy. He shot the ball very well. He takes it hard to the basket. He’s probably our best overall athlete.”
Jamie Morella will also plays big and should be a benefit on the blocks. Lefty guard James Hitchcock will also make a difference, especially if the Golden Panthers go to a smaller lineup.
The key may be at point guard, which may be won by one person or handled by committee.
“A couple guys are battling for the point guard spot. Brett Dericks will be a senior,” DeBell said. “Derek Nelson is back and we also have a sophomore in the mix. We will see how it plays out. It’s important to have a steady point guard.”
“The kids now stepping in as seniors and juniors know what to expect. Playing together now is big. We have a couple of freshmen playing with the team now and some sophomores. We are trying to get some young talent moving, too. We will see how it goes.”
Pequannock gets quite a bit done during the summer months. They have been staples at the Morris Knolls Summer League. They also take advantage of tournaments in close by William Paterson University in Wayne.
“We attend William Paterson for two weeks,” DeBell said. “We do two games a night for four nights so you get eight games a week. You get 16 games against some really good competition. They had teams from all over the state. St. Anthony’s was there but we didn’t play them. It was their lower level team but they were better than a lot of the other teams. They get teams we obviously don’t see during the season. We didn’t win a lot of games but we competed.”
Pequannock enters a fall league basketball team at the Wayne P.A.L. for those athletes that don’t compete in fall sports for the Golden Panthers. Victories are nice but DeBell is more concerned that the players gain familiarity with each other and stay in shape as the winter season moves closer.
“Coming into the summer, wins and losses don’t matter,” DeBell said. “I just want the kids to get better and learn to compete.”