By Megan Kinner, sports editor
After an immensely successful season for River Hill fall sports, the pressure now lays on the defending boys’ basketball county champions to have another great season, and continue River Hill’s success into the winter.
No one expected River Hill to be as successful as 9 – 2 in the county and 16 – 7 overall in last year’s season, but Coach Graves knows that they will not make that mistake again. In an interview with the Baltimore Sun, Coach Graves said, “These are coaches who have game plans, who have philosophies,” said Graves, “and we have a big target on our back. I stress to the kids that we need to come ready to play and play our style.” Being the reigning county champs, River Hill is the team to beat.
The hawks successful season last year came to a halt in the quarterfinals when they lost to Wilde Lake. But this year, senior Jay Martin predicts that “the most difficult games will probably be Hammond, Centennial, and an Anne Arundel County team Old Mill.”
Although these games may be challenging, River Hill will have an edge because all 5 of last year’s starters are returning, and they have 9 total returners. Senior Brendan McKenna commented that having so many returning players is their biggest strength, he said: “we’re more mature and we already know all of the offenses, so Coach Graves does not have to spend time re-teaching us.” Teammate Josh Mann agreed, saying, “We really gel well together this year, and have good chemistry.”
Along with Brendan, seniors Jay Martin, Jacob Krause, Dylan Daniels, Luke Champion, Josh Mann, and junior OJ Okojie will be expected to lead the team. This will be Jay Martin’s, the veteran guard on the team, 4th year on varsity and 3rd year as a starter. Last year Jay averaged 14.6 points per game, earning him the honor of being named first team all-county.
Dylan Daniels, forward, being 6’ 6”, will give the team a height advantage. Jacob Krause, guard, knowledge of the game will give the team ball awareness. Josh Mann, shooting guard, three-point shots will give the team points. Everyone on the team brings a different skill. “All of them have improved in their way of play,” said Coach Graves, “and I think it’s going to boil down to all of them doing it together.”
Although we are not being introduced to many new players, we will be seeing a 35-second shot clock. When asked how the shot clock is changing their strategy for this season, Dylan said “It hasn’t changed because last year we would get our shots off within like 2 seconds,” and Josh corroborated that saying “the shot clock doesn’t really affect us because we play up-tempo. We play a really fast-paced game, and we did that last year too.”
So far, the Hawks are living up to the hype as they are undefeated with 4 wins. The boys have started this season off strong with an easy win over Tuscarora and an exciting win over Wilde Lake, Hammond and others. But, Jay Martin says that they “need to improve defensively. We are talented enough to score insane amounts of points, but we need to improve on stopping other teams from scoring.” Jay’s teammate, senior Aaron Hirsch agreed that they need to “stay discipline, run our plays, stay locked down on defense, and never get too high or low” he continued to say that to be successful they just have to play hard and “play how we usually play.”
The Hawks are looking forward to an even more successful season than the last.