We are still in full football mode, but Section 9 basketball camps open on Monday. Here are five storylines in Section 9 to get us started.
Of course, there will be much more preseason coverage. Stay tuned for camp story on Monday on Varsity845.com.
- Former successful Monroe-Woodbury coach Ron Montalto returns to the bench to try to resurrect the program. He served as Monroe-Woodbury’s coach from 1983-2000, going 253-130, winning six Section 9 titles. Montalto is a three-time (1985, 1991, 1999) Varsity845 Coach of the Year. He retired as Monroe-Woodbury’s interim athletic director earlier this year. Montalto was previously the athletic director at Monroe-Woodbury from 1980-2007. In 2009, he became the first local athletic director to be inducted into the state Public High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame.
- Class B state power John S. Burke Catholic moves up to Class A this season and welcomes three noteworthy transfers: Monroe junior guards Mike Coffey and Jack Dwyer and Art Viljoen – a 6-foot-10 exchange student from South Africa. Coffey, who played at Monroe-Woodbury last year, and Dwyer, who arrives from St. Benedict’s in Newark, N.J., should be part of the rotation. Burke Catholic coach Doug Janeczko called Viljoen “a project”.
- Stacked Marlboro, which returns four starters, moves from Class A to B this year. Center Alex Smith and guards Matt Tamburri, Ryan Cary and Austin Beck. The Iron Dukes won their first Section 9 title in 23 years last season.
- Rushed into the job last season, Matt Brown begins his second year as Newburgh’s coach. This winter should be more comfortable for Brown. He was hired just three weeks before preseason practice last fall.
Under Brown, the Goldbacks finished 13-5 last year, losing to Middletown in the semifinals of the Class AA tournament. Of course, Brown, a former Newburgh player, made no excuses for his transition in 2011-12.
“Our expectations our to compete for a championship,” he said.
Once again, Newburgh, Kingston and Middletown are the favorites to win the Class AA title (much more on that in the coming weeks).
- Burke Catholic guard Zach Rufer (Lafayette) and Middletown guard Kendrick Ray (Qunnipiac) went Division I after graduating last season.
Who could be next to go Division I? Valley Central senior center Calvin Crawford, who is 6-foot-7 and averaged 19 points last season, has a full scholarship from the University of Vermont. Division I schools, including Marist, Binghamton and Siena, are interested in Middletown junior guard Travis Cook. Cook’s teammate, sophomore guard Aaron Ray, also is on the Division I offer. Binghamton is also interested in Kingston point guard Justin Robinson. Burke Catholic senior swingman Stan Buczek is also receiving Division I attention.