STUARTS DRAFT – With four returning starters, including the VACA North player of the year, it’s not surprising that third-year coach Mike Misantone is optimistic about his Ridgeview Christian boys basketball team.
The Crusaders are coming off an 8-14 campaign. Of its nine players, just one is a newcomer. In the mix are three seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and a freshman.
“We have a lot to build on from last year,” Misantone said. “We return the North player of the year in Jalen Henderson, who averaged 24 points a game. And Micah Ware was second at 14 points a game. So most of our scoring is back.
“Last year was the first in running a motion offense. The kids are taking to it and understand it better this year. We were too impatient on offense, so we are slowing it down a bit.”
Ridgeview will mainly use a man-to-man defense.
“It was our weakness last year, so we have spent a lot of our preseason being more aggressive,” the Crusader coach said. “We will look to run when we have the opportunity. We are better on transition than we are in the half-court.”
The Crusaders have set lofty goals for this season.
“Last year we came up one game short of making the state tournament,” Misantone said. “So our goal this year will be to win the VACA North and reach the state tourney.”
Ridgeview sees Grace Christian and United Christian Academy as its main competition to reach the state.
This year, the Crusaders strength will be its experience, as well as rebounding. Their concerns are still on the defensive side of the ball. “We will need to play with intensity and discipline and hold teams down,” Misantone said.
Henderson, a sophomore, is the team’s point guard. “He sees the floor well, and finishes well,” the Crusader coach said. “He can take the ball to the rim, pull up for the mid range, and can hit the three.”
Senior Micah Ware, at 6-foot-3, is primarily a post player who is looked to for a lot of scoring and rebounding. In Ridgeview’s first game of the season, he scored 31 points against Bath County.
Senior Dillon Carver at 5-11 also plays the post but can step out and shoot the three while senior Tyler Jessee is the team’s shooting guard and team leader.
Junior Isaiah Gochenour was the team’s sixth man last year. “He’s the best defender on the team and handles and shoots the ball well,” Misantone said.
For junior Nick Ware, it’s his second year on the team. “He has improved his game immensely in the off-season,” his coach said. “At 6-foot-1, he should give us help around the basket.”
Sophomore Dan Misantone is the team’s backup point guard. He’s a good defender and handles the ball well.
Luken Glover is a good outside shooter. It’s the sophomore’s second year on the team.
The newcomer is freshman Ethan Peltola, a guard who brings hustle and energy to the floor.
“Our chemistry should be a strength for us,” Misantone concluded. “Eight of these nine guys have played together for a couple of years. They get along well.”