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High School Spotlight

November 21, 2008

 

Team: Saint Anthony Friars

Location: Jersey City, New Jersey

Group: North Non-Public B

 

By Jimmy Oliver

SportsPower Correspondent

 

The Friars of St. Anthony High School are no strangers to being on top and in the national spotlight. Year after year, fans and prognosticators alike often talk about this talented team from Jersey City as not just the region’s best, but one of the nation’s most dynamic squads.

 

Well, in 2008-2009, they very well may be at the summit once again.

 

Most recently, the Friars did the unthinkable in high school basketball and went 32-0 during the ’07-’08 season, and they did so with authority. The Friars averaged 78 points per game while allowing fewer than 40 per game.  All the while, 16 of those wins came at neutral site events. It’s evident that the Friars can win wherever the road takes them.  And perhaps even more importantly, St. Anthony can pull off victories when it’s needed the most.

 

Judging by the team’s track record, winning certainly seems to be contagious. The Friars possess a remarkable 25 New Jersey Parochial championships and nine Tournament of Champions titles. The tournament has been in existence since ‘89 and some even say that the event was put in place just to showcase the mighty Friars.

 

The Friars first made national headlines with that ’89 team littered with talent as three different players made it to the NBA (Terry Dehere, Bobby Hurley and Rodrick Rhodes).  Two other players made a splash, all-Big East selection Jerry Walker and future Seton Hall Pirate Dan Hurley

 

This year’s Friars team returns eight players for the new campaign, and all but one is less than six feet.  Dominic Cheeck can be considered as the the most vital piece towards the team returning to the championship this year.  Last season, the standout forward posted 12 points per game and 7 rebounds per outing. 

 

Meanwhile, the Friars will also benefit from two transfers in Devon Collier and Ashton Pankey. There is no doubt that infamous head coach Bob Hurley will have the newest version of the Friars ready to hustle and defend, two core ingredients of success for the squad.

 

And who would know better than a man that has over 900 wins in his 35 years at St. Anthony. By all accounts, Hurley is certainly demanding, but the longtime coach is also a figure that can motivate his players every night and get the most out of each personality. And he asks for a level of play that would be considered state championship style.  It’s no wonder that Hurley is a candidate for the Hall of Fame this year.

 

With Hurley at the helm and another capable roster back ready to reclaim the championship, the Friars will certainly be making waves from Jersey City and all the way to the shores of the Pacific. By the looks of it, this is a talent-laden team poised to make a splash in ’09.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can reach SportsPower correspondent Jimmy Oliver at jimmy.oliver@activenetwork.com.

 

 

 

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Hometown: Santa Ana, California

Group: Class Southern Section

 

By Brett Manney

SportsPower Correspondent

 

Mater Dei Monarchs head coach Gary McKnight has a lot to be

excited about for the 2008-2009 basketball season. The Monarchs return

four starters from an electrifying CIF state championship team, which

is a huge reason why BasketballPower has ranked them as the No. 1 team

in the nation in its preseason rankings.

 

Many former and current Mater Dei athletes are now household names and

hold impressive resumes and, coincidently, have turned the program into

a national powerhouse for sports. In ‘08, Sports Illustrated

ranked Mater Dei second for “Best High School Athletic Program,” and

the institution has the athletes and championships to prove it.

 

For football, the illustrious program has produced the likes of Matt Leinert, John Huarte, and Colt Brennan. They currently have the nation’s number one recruit in QB Matt Barkley, who is following Leinert’s footsteps to USC.

 

And although it's still football season, everyone around the Santa Ana

community is already talking about the highly anticipated start to the

basketball campaign.

 

It’s easy to see why. McKnight’s squad went 35-1 a year ago and returns

four starters after winning back-to-back CIF state championships.

 

Meanwhile, McKnight’s resume could be thicker than a phonebook and is

right up there with the nation’s best high school coaches. Furthermore,

since he started coaching the Monarchs in ‘81, he has tallied a record

of 797-74 along with 24 league championships, 19 Southern Section

championships and seven CIF state championships (‘87, ‘90, ‘95, ‘01,

‘03, ’07-‘08). He is also the winningest coach in Orange County boy's

basketball history. Some of his most notable alumni include Leron Ellis ‘87, Reggie Geary ‘92, Miles Simon ‘94, D.J. Strawberry ‘03 and Taylor King ‘07.

 

The Monarchs will certainly have a target on their back considering

they are two-time defending state champions and a perennial powerhouse.

But the cupboard at Mater Dei is still full with Div. I recruits.

Spearheading the attack this season are twins David (6-10, 220 lbs.) and Travis Wear (6-10, 220), forward Andy Brown (6-8, 215 and a Stanford recruit), junior transfer guard Tyler Lamb (6-5, 190, UCLA) and junior point guard Gary Franklin (6-3, 180, USC).

 

The Wear twins, whose father David is an assistant coach with the team,

are the center of attention and for a good reason. Behind big frames,

both players provide almost identical production. Last season, David

averaged 16.8 ppg and 8.9 rebounds and was a member of the USA Men’s

Under-18 team, in addition to league MVP, all-county and all state. All

the while, Travis averaged 16.1 ppg, 8.3 rpg and was also selected to

the USA under-18 team in addition to all-league, all county and

all-state.

 

Additionally, Brown averaged 14.6 ppg and 5.9 rpg in addition to

providing a solid inside game to compliment the Wear twins. Running the

show is Franklin (12.9 ppg and 4.9 apg), a true sparkplug for the team,

and he often pushes the ball in transition and distributes well to his

big men.

 

Lamb will fill the missing piece of the puzzle after transferring from Ontario High,

where he averaged 27 points and over five steals a game. Lamb can be a

streaky shooter, but has great anticipation on defense and is another

scorer in the already potent Monarch attack.

 

Said Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times about Lamb, “His arrival at Mater Dei would give the Monarchs the best starting five in California."

 

When football season eventually ends, Mater Dei fans will not miss a

beat. With a solid core of seniors and two big-time juniors, the

Monarchs will continue to dominate California from the valleys to the

mountains. Much like the signature warm weather and sunny skies in the

state, the Monarch program will hopefully be looking for their

signature success to continue '09.

 

 

To contact correspondent Brett Manney, send an e-mail to brett.manney@activenetwork.com.

 

 

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