Every high school team in this fractured winter season had its fingers crossed that it would be able to play at least some kind of season.
It’s possible that the Greencastle-Antrim boys basketball team had its fingers squeezed just a little bit tighter than others.
The Blue Devils have suffered through 5-15 and 3-19 seasons the past two years. But for 2020-21, G-A returns its top seven players and also has a — literally — big addition in 6-foot-4 freshman Conner Wright.
“No doubt, we’re excited about this year; we’ve been building for it for two years,” Greencastle coach Rick Lewis said. “I told the kids that we got a second chance and we need to take care of things.
“I think we took some big steps last year, even though our record didn’t show it. We lost a lot of close games (7 by 10 points or fewer) and I think we can turn some of those around because of our experience.”
Experience is something the Blue Devils have in abundance.
Zach Cole (sr., 6-4, F) and Thomas Lewis (sr., 5-10, G) will play their third season as starters. A year ago, Cole averaged 12.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, while Lewis scored 10.0, averaged three assists and knocked down 49 3-point shots.
Adam Root (sr., 6-3, F, 8.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and Adam Murr (sr., 6-1, G, 6.2 ppg, 2.2 apg, 3.7 rpg) are the other returning starters, and they will be joined by freshman Wright.
Rick Lewis said, “The addition of Wright keeps everybody in their right position — it allows Root to play the No. 3 and Cole can go to No. 4. The league as a whole was huge last year and Conner adds another 6-4 presence in there.”
The talent does not end there. The top three players off the bench — J.T. English (sr., 5-10, G, 5.6 ppg, 31 3’s); Riley Gembe (sr., 6-3, F, 4.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg) and Bobby Emberson (jr., 5-10, G, 2.4 ppg) — all have plenty of experience to share.
“It’s noticeable that these guys have been together for a while,” Lewis said. “We didn’t make a lot of changes and they were able to jump right into things quickly. I think we can be pretty good. I’ve seen more sharing of the ball, and moving the ball and getting more stops on defense.”
Defense will definitely be a concern for Lewis. A year ago, the Blue Devils allowed 70 or more points in nine games.
“We need to commit to being a more active and engaged defensive team,” he said. “Hopefully, we have learned and with our experience and increased physical and mental maturity we can turn some of those close games around.”
The other thing Lewis is hoping to see is better starts.
“Last year, we won the first quarter in only two games,” he said. “How many of those close losses did we actually lose in the first quarter? Again, I’m hoping the experience helps with this issue because it is tough to play from behind all the time.”
The ingredients for a good season are all in place. The Blue Devils are just hoping that the games are played so they can have the kind of season they’ve been pointing toward for years.
NOTES: The season opener is Friday at Camp Hill … Thomas Lewis has committed to play at Goucher College next year … This is Rick Lewis’s fifth season as head coach; his record so far is 47-53 … The top two teams last year in the Mid Penn Colonial, Shippensburg and Northern York, also return plenty of talent and are projected to finish as the top two again.