MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — Right after New Year’s, once Ranney (Tinton Falls, N.J.) was home from North Carolina and the John Wall Holiday Invitational with the championship trophy in tow, Scottie Lewis did a little quick math.
The Panthers, who fell from No. 4 to No. 9 in the Super 25 after losing to MacDuffie (Granby, Mass.) on Sunday, have depth issues right now. Junior forward Phil Wheeler, who transferred in from Rumson-Fair Haven, sat out the first 30 days of the season thanks to the NJSIAA transfer rule. Senior point guard Ahmadu Sarnor is missing the first 16 games after he played that many as an eighth-grader at Collegium Charter (Pa.).
With that, Ranney’s rotation is only six-deep.
SUPER 25 Week 6: Ranney falls to No. 9 after loss
One of those six is a freshman, Elijah Perkins, who is playing heavy minutes in place of Sarnor. Lewis astutely pointed out last week that it is not an ideal situation. Over the course of three games in four days in North Carolina, guys were at or at least close to playing all 96 minutes.
“I’m excited for those guys to return, and to see what we look like with our full group,” said Lewis, who will lead Ranney against unbeaten, Non-Public A favorite Bergen Catholic on Saturday, and NEPSAC AA program MacDuffie (Mass.) on Sunday. “(Senior reserve guard) Mike Dettro has come in and played well, our freshman (Perkins) has had to be there for us.
Help is coming. Wheeler just past his 30-day mark and Sarnor is only out for five more games.
Ranney will have two-and-a-half weeks to get itself together before opening defense of its Shore Conference Tournament crown. Attractive non-conference matchups against Gill, Roselle Catholic (Jan. 30), and Montverde (Feb. 8) will precede the SCT.
Sarnor figures to slide back in at point guard, but Perkins isn’t likely to disappear. He has played well, played a lot, and that experience should qualify as invaluable as the calendar heads towards the postseason.
“It’ll be an interesting rotation,” said Ranney head coach Tahj Holden. “You can go small, you can go big, we’ll have more options how to play.”