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Woodridge boys basketball team set to defend conference title

12/13/2012 - West Side Leader
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By Sean Patrick

PENINSULA — Last season, the Woodridge High School boys basketball team finished with a 14-7 overall record, including an 11-3 mark in the Portage Trail Conference (PCT) County Division. The team finished as the PTC co-champions with Southeast High School.

“Obviously, we would like to repeat as conference champions,” said head coach Brian Fantone. “We would also like to compete at a higher level in our out-of-conference schedule, so that our playoff seeding will improve for the sectional/district tournament.”

According to the coach, this year’s team has plenty of varsity experience.

“We are an extremely veteran group with eight seniors, one junior and a sophomore on our varsity roster,” he said. “Our strengths this year should be our athleticism/quickness, as well as our experience, as we have eight seniors returning on our varsity roster. We will look to play aggressive defense to force our opponents into turnovers and quick points for our offense.

The seniors on this year’s team (with comments on each by Fantone) are:

• Nelson Perry: “He is a returning first-team all-PTC player. Nelson is an excellent defender and our quickest player on the court. He has the ability to create instant offense from his defense and is an extremely tough matchup for opposing teams.”

• Sean McCoy: “He is a returning second-team all-PTC player. Sean handles the ball for us and is an excellent shooter from the outside. Sean has really improved his on-the-ball defense over the past year, and his length oftentimes causes problems for opposing guards. We will rely heavily on Sean for leadership both on and off the court this year.”

• Anthony Mong: “Anthony is a four-year varsity player for us. He plays excellent defense and is one of our most athletic players. He rebounds extremely well and is explosive when driving to the basket on offense. His leadership is invaluable on the court, and he is the true definition of the word ‘competitor.’”

• Chico Coleman: “Chico is one of the nicest surprises we have had the first month of the season. He came into the month of November at a very high level and has been consistent for us on both ends of the court during our scrimmages. Chico’s defense has really improved since last year, and he has also developed into one of our vocal leaders.”

• Ray Matthews: “Ray is a 6-foot-7 post player for us. When Ray stays out of foul trouble, he is an imposing force defensively inside the paint. We are very hopeful that Ray can have some big games for us on the offensive end of the court this year, as most of the teams in our conference have an extremely hard time matching his size and defending him.”

• Hunter Niswander: “Hunter is returning to our team this year after not playing basketball his junior season. Hunter does a lot of the ‘dirty work’ on our team as he hustles, rebounds and keeps possessions alive for us. He brings excellent energy to the floor and can also be an outside shooting threat. Hunter is attending Northwestern University on a football scholarship next year as a kicker/punter.”

• Alex Barracato: “Alex returns off of last year’s roster and is a calming presence on the court. He handles the ball off the bench for us and can also stretch the court as a shooter. Alex has really developed into an excellent leader and will be relied on this year to come off the bench and be productive.”

• Logan Johnson: “Logan is a three-year player in our program and will come off the bench this year to give us strong and physical defense against opposing guards. Logan works hard every day at practice and really pushes our starting guards to get better with his defense. Offensively, Logan is an excellent screener and moves well without the ball to score.”

Fantone cited junior Armad Richey-Conrad and sophomore Christian Owens as two other players who will play key roles this season.

“Both are post players who will have to play a lot of minutes off the bench this year,” he said. “Both players play great defense and have the ability to score off of offensive rebounds and post play.”

In addition, the coach said Coleman and Mong each have the ability to make a big impact this season.

“They are both players who have had consistently good scrimmages and practices and may surprise people this year with how much they score for us off their defense,” he said.

This is Fantone’s third year as the head coach at Woodridge. His assistants are John Godinsky and Perry Owens.

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