As the summer and the fall sports season drug on, the hype around the 2015-16 Bayside boys basketball season centered around Stephen Decatur.
Bayside player of the year Torrey Brittingham had transferred back after a season at Wi-Hi, the Seahawks were returning their starting front court and they added a few other transfers like sophomore Kevon Voyles from the Eastern Shore of Virginia.
It was looking like state title or bust for the Seahawks, but then injuries happened. Brittingham is in a neck brace until January after a car accident and Tyree Henry will miss the season after knee surgery stemming from a football injury.
Still, not all is lost for Stephen Decatur. Under the coaching of BJ Johnson and Bubby Brown, the Seahawks should still be very good. And while Brittingham is out, they have guys that can carry them, like Keve Aluma.
At 6-feet, 8-inches, Aluma towers over many of the other guys playing in the paint in a conference dominated by guards. Aluma came on strong last year and had a great summer on the AAU circuits.
Basketball is in his blood too. His father, Peter Aluma, starred at Liberty University and finished his collegiate career as the Flames’ all-time leading shot blocker and had his jersey retired. He also had a brief stint in the NBA with the Sacramento Kings.
Aluma is also a soccer player, and brings his quick feet to the basketball court and makes good use of them in the post. Like his father, he stuffs the stat sheet with blocked shots too. If Aluma keeps up his play this season and into the summer, there is no question that Division I scouts will be giving him a look.
Brittingham may miss a month or two, but with Aluma leading the way of squad filled with talent that also includes Voyles, Jaquan Johnson and Keyon Eley, the Seahawks should be in good position to compete for a Bayside title and make a run into the playoffs.
Pocomoke, a contender?
No matter what the makeup of the roster looks like, the Pocomoke Warriors have always been at least good under the coaching of Derrick Fooks.
The veteran coach has the ability to take a group of players, who are often undersized and sometimes less talented than others in the conference, and get them to buy in to a hardnosed playing style that emphasizes on team unity and defense.
One might call them the Memphis Grizzlies of the Bayside. The Warriors tend to play a grit-and-grind style of basketball to near perfection. Plus, senior forward LiCurtis Whitney sort of plays like Zach Randolph.
The Warriors made the 1A East Region Finals last year and along with Whitney, Pocomoke returns a few familiar faces and seems to be reloaded. They return Tyler Nixon, a dynamic guard who can create for himself and others, and the Warriors also landed a few key transfers.
Along with Pocomoke, Washington should be in the mix to make a 1A playoff run. They graduated some dynamic playmakers, but the Jaguars have plenty of weapons, including Montraz Oliver.
In the 2A field, Butch Waller is bound to have something cooking at Wi-Hi. Next week at the Governor’s Challenge Media Day, he’ll say something along the lines of, “We’re going to have a down year. Parkside will be really good. Watch out for Stephen Decatur and Pocomoke.”
But don’t be fooled by Waller. He’s been coaching basketball a long time, and although he lost four of five starters from a team that made the state semi-finals last season, the Indians will still be competitive and be in the 2A East playoff mix come February.
Waller gained Barry Gaines via transfer from James M. Bennett and also returns a few regular contributors from last year’s team like Corey Jones, Lydebreion Stanley and Jordan Brittingham.
With new coaches, Bennett and Crisfield will try to find their footing early, while Parkside will look to build off of regular season success from last year and turn it into playoff success. The Rams graduated three starters, but bring back center Keyante Kelly and sharpshooter Gary Briddell.
Oh, and don’t sleep on Snow Hill. Amonte Allen, Ameer Fisher and Takhai Wise will look to put up a lot of points in their new gym.
Trojans in the North
While the North dominates the Bayside in football, the same isn’t true for basketball season.
Still, the North basketball teams are no slouches. Waller is not very excited about driving to Kent County for the Indians’ season opener.
The Trojans have given South teams fits in recent years but haven’t been able to crack through to capture a Bayside title or state tournament berth, yet. Now it’s year three for the trio of Marcquan Greene, Manny Camper and Shemar Turner.
No team wanted to face them as sophomores, and the same is true for their junior seasons.
Just south of Worton, the Queen Anne’s Lions should be tough again as well. Brendan Cavanagh has graduated, but taking over his role is Mikey Monroe, a junior combo guard who impressed at the DMVelite Shore Showcase.
Wicomico and Parkside haven’t had to worry about the Kent Island Buccaneers in the 2A playoffs for a few years now, but with a new head coach and a transfer from Parkdale – junior wing Tariq Johnson – the Bucs might do more than just scare a few teams.
Without leading Bayside scorer David Dickerson, who graduated and is playing at Frostburg State University, Colonel Richardson will have to re-tool a bit, but should still be competitive. In Cambridge, it’s year-two for the Vic Burns’ era and the Vikings have a talented roster led by Dre Greene.
The Marty Bailey Jr. reign has come to an end at Easton and the Warriors will have a new coach. Bailey will join his dad as an assistant at North Caroline this season to make for a veteran staff with a tough group of young players.
For North Dorchester, Mardela and St. Michael’s… well, maybe they will surprise some teams.
#ShoreHoops Boys Power Rankings:
- Stephen Decatur
- Kent County
- Queen Anne’s
- Snow Hill
- North Caroline
- Kent Island
- Colonel Richardson
- James M. Bennett
- North Dorchester
- St. Michael’s