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Early look at AAC Red Tier boys basketball

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Keelyn Franklin begins year #1 as the head coach of the Raiders

All-American Conference High School Basketball

Derrick Anderson returns to Boardman after his MVP season

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A year ago, Boardman ended Harding’s 4-year reign at the top of the All-American Conference by finishing with a perfect 10-0 Red Tier record. This season, coach Pat Birch returns the league’s Player of the Year in Derrick Anderson (17.4 ppg). Harding welcomes back three starters under the watchful of first-year coach Keelyn Franklin. Fitch will have back a pair of double-digit scorers. Canfield graduated a lot of production but will have back a strong senior class. Howland’s rebounding average dropped from 34 to 24 caroms a game – much of the focus this off-season has been to become better at crashing the boards.

2018-19 All-American Conference Red Tier Standings
Boardman – 10-0 (20-4)
Harding – 7-3 (12-11)
Canfield – 6-4 (13-12)
Fitch – 3-7 (6-17)
Lakeside – 2-8 (7-15)
Howland – 2-8 (6-17)

Around the League
Boardman Spartans
Coach: Pat Birch, 8th season
…The Spartans won their first All-American Conference championship a year ago – which was their 1st league championship in 19 years – by accumulating a perfect 10-0 Red Tier mark. Excluding the year prior (9-14, 5-7 league), Boardman won 39 games and lost 9 overall during the 2018-19 and 2016-17 seasons (81.3%). “We have very high expectations heading into this season,” says coach Birch. “We’re returning 7 of our top 9 players from last year which will provide us with depth of experience. Our senior class has been a very dedicated group and will get the opportunity to leave their mark on our program.”

Boardman welcomes back the league’s Player of the Year in senior point guard Derrick Anderson (17.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 5.2 apg, 2.6 spg, 75% FT) as well as junior Ethan Anderson (6.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg), Zach Ryan (1.8 apg, 1.9 spg), Daeone Martin (8.6 ppg, 1.8 apg), Connor Miller (51.2% FG), Tommy Fryda (5.5 ppg), and Charlie Davis (3.8 ppg, 48.6% 3PT). Six-foot 5 sophomore Trey DePietro looks to play a significant role on the varsity level this year.

Birch states, “Our biggest challenge heading into next season is the ability to handle expectations. We return a significant number of starters and lettermen – which means we will not sneak up on anyone we play. On the court we need to replace the leadership and production of graduated seniors Cam Kreps (5.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) and Che Trevena (12.2 ppg, 2.6 apg). Both players were key to our success last year and will be very difficult to replace.”

Canfield Cardinals
Coach: Todd Muckleroy, 10th season
…The Cardinals have not experienced a losing campaign since the 2011-12 season (8-13). Over the last three years though, they’ve compiled a 40-33 record (54.8%). In order for Canfield to find success, coach Muckleroy states that it’s about focusing on one game at a time. “As a coaching staff, we’re keeping the message very simple with our guys – as long as each person ‘does their job’ – we’ll use their production in an effort to measure of how good we’ll be. We have good senior leadership, but I’d consider us to be a young team. We lost a lot of firepower. This team is not worried about past successes and failures – they live in the present with a heavy emphasis on getting better today.”

Each of the Cardinals three double-digit scorers have since graduated (Kyle Gamble, 13.7 ppg; Connor Crogan, 12.4 ppg; Aydin Hanousek, 11.7 ppg). Gamble led the team in field goal percentage (55.9%), free throwing shooting (82.7%) and three-point accuracy (42.4%). Crogan also shot 34.3% from three-point land (34-99) as well as leading the team in assists (4.0) and steals (1.4). Hanousek grabbed a team-high 8.6 caroms.

Canfield welcomes back seniors Jake Kowal (point guard), Brayden Beck (3.7 ppg), Brent Herrmann (3.2 ppg, 68.3% FT) and swingman Joe Bruno (7.0 ppg, 1.5 apg). “The expectations placed on my players revolve around attitude, effort, and a work-ethic to continue to improve everyday,” Muckleroy says. “When you put all of those aspects together, along with execution and just having the love to compete and play this game – any team can benefit and will most likely see some success.”

Fitch Falcons
Coach: Brian Beany, 9th season
…The Falcons return two key contributors from last year’s squad in junior Todd Simons and senior Kris Brown. Simons, was named to the First-Team All-AAC as a sophomore averaged the most points (18.6 ppg) by any Falcon since coach Beany’s first season on the job in 2011-12 when Will Mahone scored 18.9 points per game. Simons also led the team in rebounding (6.5) and steals (1.8) while making 67.6% of his free throw attempts (71-105). Brown scored 10.3 points last year while connecting on 35.8% of his three-point shots (39-109).

“As every coach would say, having a healthy team goes a long way,” Beany states. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for us last year. This year, we need a more balanced scoring attack, whereas Todd (Simons) doesn’t have to carry so much of the workload. I like the makeup of this team. We have a group of guys that have really worked hard both in the weight room and on the court. I expect us to be very competitive in all our games, and hopefully put ourselves in position to be successful, and battle for a conference title.”

After enjoying three straight winning seasons (2013-14 to 2015-16), Fitch has suffered through three consecutive losing campaigns as they’ve been able to win just 30.4% of their games played (21-48).

Harding Raiders
Coach: Keelyn Franklin, 1st season
…Harding begins year #1 of the Keelyn Franklin-era. Franklin was a standout in the middle part of the last decade as he went onto play college ball at Shawnee State. Since then, he’s served in coaching roles in a number of different areas in the Harding basketball program. Coach Franklin states, “We hope to improve and compete every day. To use our demanding schedule as we prepare ourselves for a deep tournament run.”

The Raiders return three starters from last year’s group in seniors Di’Muntize Owens and juniors DeAveion Burgess and Aston Bates. “We need to continue to build on the experience gained last year from multiple underclassmen,” indicates Franklin. “We plan on playing an uptempo, physical brand of basketball.”

Last year, Harding took a step back as they dropped 11-games for the first time in six years (2013-14 – 13-11) as they finished 3 games out of first place in the Red Tier (7-3). The first time Harding didn’t win the All-American Conference championship since joining in 2014.

Howland Tigers
Coach: Dan Bubon, 4th season
…Over the last 7 years, Howland has had just one winning season (2017-18: 18-6). This season, the Tigers return four players with starting experience led by Cam Durig (8.7 ppg) and Justin Jones (5.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg). Durig shot 33.3% from three-point range (34-102). Gage Tomko (1.9 apg, 0.8 spg) and Jordan Sperling (4.0 apg, 3.0 rpg) also started about half their games last winter as well.

Coach Bubon indicates, “having a deeper rotation than last year will benefit us. We have to figure out who will be in our rotation. There are a lot of guys in contention for playing time. We must become a better rebounding group. Last year, we lost the rebounding battle a lot more than we won it.”

It’s been eight years since Howland won a league title (2011 AAC Red Tier). Now, the Tigers must move on with their standout Nathan Barrett (15.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg). “Many teams have a lot of questions entering the year,” says Bubon. “We have to work hard and compete. That’ll make us better.”

2019-20 Schedules
Boardman
Dec. 3 – at GlenOak, 7:30
Dec. 6 – Farrell, 7
Dec. 10 – Lakeview, 7
Dec. 14 – vs. Hickory (United Way Classic), 3:30
Dec. 17 – Lake, 7
Dec. 20 – at Mooney, 7:30
Dec. 28 – Poland, 7
Jan. 2 – Hudson, 7
Jan. 10 – at Howland, 7
Jan. 14 – at Fitch, 7
Jan. 17 – Canfield, 7
Jan. 19 – vs Green (at Hoover), 3:30
Jan. 21 – Harding, 7
Jan. 24 – East, 7
Jan. 28 – Howland, 7
Jan. 31 – at Tallmadge, 7:30
Feb. 4 – at Canfield, 7
Feb. 7 – at Harding, 7
Feb. 11 – Louisville, 7
Feb. 14 – Chaney, 7
Feb. 18 – at Ursuline, 7
Feb. 21 – Fitch, 7

Canfield
Nov. 30 – Marlington, 7
Dec. 3 – Lakeview, 7
Dec. 6 – at South Range, 7
Dec. 10 – Chaney, 7
Dec. 13 – at West Branch, 7
Dec. 17
Dec. 27 – at Hudson Holiday Classic
Dec. 28 – at Hudson Holiday Classic
Jan. 3 – at Chaney, 7
Jan. 7 – at Harding, 7
Jan. 10 – at Fitch, 7
Jan. 11 – at Poland, 7
Jan. 17 – at Boardman, 7
Jan. 21 – Howland, 7
Jan. 24 – Harding, 7
Jan. 28 – Fitch, 7
Jan. 31 – at Massillon, 7:30
Feb. 4 – Boardman, 7
Feb. 7 – at Howland, 7
Feb. 11 – at Alliance, 7
Feb. 15 – at Lake, 7:30
Feb. 21 – Poland, 7

Fitch
Nov. 29 – at West Branch, 7
Dec. 3 – Louisville, 7:30
Dec. 10 – Mooney, 7
Dec. 13 – Tallmadge, 7
Dec. 21 – GlenOak, 7
Dec. 27 – at Struthers, 7
Dec. 30 – at Ursuline, 7
Jan. 3 – at Alliance, 7
Jan. 7 – Howland, 7
Jan. 10 – Canfield, 7
Jan. 14 – Boardman, 7
Jan. 17 – at Harding, 7
Jan. 21 – Carrollton, 7
Jan. 24 – at Howland, 7
Jan. 28 – at Canfield, 7
Feb. 4 – Akron East, 7
Feb. 7 – East, 7
Feb. 11 – at Hudson, 7
Feb. 14 – Harding, 7
Feb. 15 – at Mooney, 7:30
Feb. 18 – at Poland, 7
Feb. 21 – at Boardman, 7

Harding
Dec. 3 – Cleveland Heights, 7:30
Dec. 7 – Massillon, 7
Dec. 10 – East, 7
Dec. 13 – at Garfield Heights, 7
Dec. 14 – St. Edward, 7
Dec. 17 – at Walsh Jesuit, 7
Dec. 20 – at Chaney, 7
Dec. 21 – at Ursuline, 7
Dec. 28 – vs Maple Heights (at Garfield Hts), 10:15
Jan. 3 – Mooney, 7
Jan. 4 – Bedford, 7:30
Jan. 7 – Canfield, 7
Jan. 11 – St. Ignatius, 7
Jan. 14 – at Howland, 7
Jan. 17 – Fitch, 7
Jan. 21 – at Boardman, 7
Jan. 24 – at Canfield, 7
Jan. 31 – Howland, 7
Feb. 7 – Boardman, 7
Feb. 11 – at Lakeside, 7
Feb. 14 – at Fitch, 7
Feb. 18 – at Massillon, 7

Howland
Nov. 26 – Jefferson, 7:30
Dec. 3 – at East, 7
Dec. 6 – at LaBrae, 7
Dec. 10 – Poland, 7
Dec. 13 – Ursuline, 7
Dec. 17 – Chaney, 7
Dec. 20 – Warren JFK, 7
Dec. 27 – Sharon Holiday Tournament
Dec. 28 – Sharon Holiday Tournament
Jan. 3 – at Lakeview, 7
Jan. 7 – at Fitch, 7
Jan. 10 – Boardman, 7
Jan. 14 – Harding, 7
Jan. 21 – at Canfield, 7
Jan. 24 – Fitch, 7
Jan. 28 – at Boardman, 7
Jan. 31 – at Harding, 7
Feb. 4 – Mooney, 7
Feb. 7 – Canfield, 7
Feb. 11 – Liberty, 7
Feb. 14 – at Louisville, 7
Feb. 18 – Newton Falls, 7
Feb. 21 – at Niles, 7

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