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Michael Kresovich on basketball: Ranking the top area teams in boys, girls

Let’s take a look at the area’s top boys and girls basketball teams.

Jersey Shore enters this season as the No. 1 ranked area boys basketball team. The Bulldogs ended their season with a record of 13-12 and a game shy of reaching the PIAA tournament.

Damian Williams is the lone starter that comes back for Jersey Shore. Role players Cayden Hess and Tristan Gallick both return with some varsity experience. Outside of Hess and Gallick, The Bulldogs will look to Logan Bailey, Branden Wheary, Cam Embick, Owen Bloom, and DJ Steinbacher for production.

The Wildcats are the area’s second-ranked team. Despite a 6-16 record last season, Central Mountain is poised for a bounce-back year. Five of the Wildcats’ losses from last year came by a combined 15 points. Tyler Bardo has a balanced team this winter, a unit that returns five letter winners. Aidan Major, Cayde McCloskey, and Nicholas Long are back for the Wildcats and hoping to replace some production lost. All three averaged between five and eight points a year ago for the Wildcats.

Bald Eagle Area will be tasked with replacing three solid players in 1,000-point scorer Jaden Jones, double-double machine Nick Maynard and slasher Nate Hoover. Luckily for the Eagles, they brought in a familiar face to the area Kris Glunt, who had success at both Moshannon Valley and Bellefonte.

Glunt was named coach of BEA in June and has his sights set on turning the program around through toughness, grit and hard work. BEA is a well-rounded team that returns Ayden Jodon, Alex Gavlock, Owen Irvin, Ethan Koleno, and Hayden Vaughn.

Bellefonte rounds-out the preseason rankings, coming in at No. 4. Bellefonte finished with a record 6-16 last season. First-year coach Rick Hall takes over the Raiders program. Hall brings an up-tempo philosophy to Bellefonte. The Raiders will be tasked with replacing some solid players from last year’s team, the most notable being 1000-point scorer Ben McCartney.

Returning for the Raiders this season is DJ McCaslin, Blair Eckley-Jones, Gannon Brungard, and Nick Way.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Bellefonte returns five letterwinners from last year’s 10-13 season and is the top-ranked squad heading into the season. The Raiders went 7-3 in their final 10 regular season games and bring back two standout players in Maddie Tice and Sara DeHaas from the same team. Tice has a solid shot at breaking 1,000 career points this winter as she is 321 points away from the mark. DeHaas averaged 9.0 rebounds a game for Bellefonte last season. Mia Johnson, Bella Corman, and Lily Gardner are the other letterwinners set to return.

Jersey Shore ranks second heading into the season. The Bulldogs — who finished last season with a record of 9-14 — are challenged with replacing their top three scorers from a year ago. Aubrey Stretts, Saide Griswald, and Brielle Hess all graduated, and Aubrey Schilling is the team’s top-returning scorer as she averaged close to 5.0 points per game and added an average of 5.0 rebounds. Outside of Schilling, role players Sam Machmer and Delaney Herbst return.

The Wildcats ended their season a year ago at a mark of 6-16. The good new for Central Mountain is that the team gets back most of its roster.

Quinlynn McCann and Avery Baker, the team’s top-two scorers from last year are set to return for the Wildcats. As is senior Alyssa Fisher, Juniors Mia Kopysciansky and Reese Doyle, and sophomore Kiahna Jones. Outside of the trio of seniors, and role players from last season, Marissa Wheeler and Ava Renninger are set to make an impact as underclassmen

Bald Eagle Area comes in ranked fourth as Shawn Thompson enters his first season as head coach. Thompson inherits a team that is loaded with underclassmen and looking to improve on its 7-14 record last year. The Eagles will look to key returnees Kristen Onder, Georgia Cingle, Sarah Holler, Maddy Perry, Kierra Serb, Katie Snyder, Hailey Bucha, Ember Herr, Abigail Hoover, and Charlotte Cingle.

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