Athletics News

Men's Basketball

Skipjacks set sights on defending region title
Newman only returner on team that most likely will depend on defense

WYE MILLS – The Skipjacks were an offensive bunch last year – and that offense helped bring Chesapeake College its first NJCAA Division I Region XX men’s basketball championship.

Chesapeake averaged 91 points per game in the state tournament, reaching the finals, and then put up 88 per contest during the successful run through the regional tournament. All of that offense helped the Skipjacks smash the school record for victories in a 27-5 season that ended in a District 3 semifinal loss to Globe Institute of Technology.

Head coach John Mappas said the Skipjacks – who open their season Saturday night against the host team in the Potomac State (W. Va.) College Invitational –will need to use a different strategy if they wish to achieve the same goal.

"Last year’s team averaged close to 90 points a game. This year we’re going to have trouble scoring points," said Mappas, who is looking to guide Chesapeake into its third straight Region XX title game. "We have to keep the games in the 60s or low 70s to be successful. We’ll have to be better than we were defensively last year."

Shooting guard Ty Newman (Easton High) is the only returner from last year’s title team, and Mappas said much of the offense will fall on his shoulders out of necessity.

"He’ll have to be our ’go-to guy’ on offense," said Mappas of the explosive Newman, who dropped a career-high 32 points on Hagerstown Community College in a 122-111 victory last February that put the Skipjacks in the state finals. "He’s also got to do a better job keeping his concentration on defense."

Two players from Mappas’ 2006-2007 squad – point guard Kentrell Ricketts (Easton High) and 6-foot-2 forward Felix Weeks (North Dorchester High) – have returned to offer some veteran experience.

"Kentrell’s gotten stronger from two years ago and Felix gives us another hard worker," said Mappas. "Felix will have to be a physical presence for us inside."

Right now, Ricketts and Weeks look to start the season as reserves. Mappas currently plans to start four freshmen – point guard Antoine White (Walt Whitman High), small forward Jamire Davis (Edison, Va. High), center Ricky Teagle (Cambridge-SD High), and forward Carlton Brown (Indianapolis, Ind. High). No projected starter is over 6-3, with 6-4 freshman reserve forward T.J. Brooks (Queen Anne’s County High) the small squad’s tallest player.

Mappas said Brooks "needs to work on his fundamentals," but will eventually provide some quality minutes.

"He’s a talent, and I’m looking to him to help us as we move forward," Mappas said of Brooks.

Mappas called the 6-1 Brown and 6-3 Teagle "two pleasant surprises."

"Carlton is probably the hardest-working player on the team and Ricky’s another hard worker," said Mappas, who values players with strong work ethics.

Mappas called White, who helped lead Walt Whitman to a state title in 2006, "a tough, hard-nosed kid who is a good defender and does a lot of things for you." He said there are times the Skipjacks may play with White and Ricketts on the floor at the same time to improve the team’s ball-handling.

While Newman will have to shoulder much of the offensive load, Mappas said Davis is being "counted on to be the second scorer behind Ty."

"He’s a good mid-range shooter and he has a knack for scoring," Mappas said of Davis.

Sophomores William Cray (Woodson High/Washington, D.C.) and Darnell Malabet (Oak Hill/Dover, Del.) will help deepen the bench. Cray, who can play either forward position, played last year at Eastern Wyoming Junior College. Malabet spent two years at Goldey-Beacom in Delaware, but did not play.

"We really need William to be more consistent in his effort and to learn how to better use his strength – he’s a strong kid," said Mappas. "Darnell is athletic and can shoot."

Guards Michael Turner (St. Michaels High) and Demetre Johnson (Kent Island High) and forwards Izzy Melton (Montgomery Blair High) and Deontah Cutler (Arcadia, Va. High) round out the squad. Turner is a three-sport (soccer/basketball/baseball) performer for the Skipjacks.

"Michael just joined us from the baseball team, but he can shoot the ball," said Mappas. "Deontah practices and plays very hard. I expect him to give us some energy off the bench."

Mappas hopes to have his young squad peaking in late February – just around state and regional tournament time. He said the usual cast of characters are among the Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference and Region XX favorites.

"It’s Cecil and everybody else – let’s not fool ourselves," Mappas said of the state race. "They’ve won it the last four or five years.

"I know Hagerstown is loaded and both Garrett and Allegany are very good," added Mappas, speaking of three Region XX rivals. "And Potomac State’s website said this could be their best team in five years – and they went 17-8 last year."

Frederick Community College is moving up to Division I, adding another potential contender.

Mappas said there is no regional championship afterglow in his mind.

"That’s over with – I forgot about that as soon as last season ended," said Mappas. "It’s a new year, and it’s all about what you do on the court."

Photo caption: Easton High graduate Ty Newman, shown above scoring against Globe Institute of Technology in last year’s District 3 tournament, is the only returner off Chesapeake College’s NJCAA Division I Region XX men’s basketball championship team.

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