High School Boys Basketball Preview: Monroe County Division I

Tah-jae Hill leads a Hilton Cadets’ squad looking to defend its Monroe County Division I title. (Photo: BONNIE WOOD PRINCE)

Rush-Henrietta and Victor opened league play Monday night. Hilton starts its season Tuesday against Churchville-Chili. By Friday, all six teams will have started the campaign. Here are the team-by-team breakdowns:

FAIRPORT RED RAIDERS (Class AA)

Last season: Finished 15-7, lost in Class AA sectional semifinals to UPrep.

Coach: Scott Fitch (305-90, 20th Season)

Top returners: Kevin Gibson (Jr. F), Drew Johnston (Jr. G/F), Jack Lindstrom (Jr. G), Ryan Lucey (Jr. G/F 10 PPG, 8.0 RPG, All-League Second Team), Stefan Milinkovic (Jr. F 11 PPG, 7.0 RPG) and Max Molisani (Jr. G 5.0 PPG).

Top newcomers: Derek Howe, Jack McDonald, Andrew Smith and Bruce Wilder

First game: Wednesday, December 4th, at 7:30 p.m. vs. UPrep

Outlook: Fairport kicks off its season with a sectional semifinals rematch against UPrep. Can the Red Raiders repeat last season’s success and make another deep postseason run?

HILTON CADETS (Class AA)

Last season: Finished 17-4, lost in Class AA sectional quarterfinals to UPrep.

Coach: Troy Prince (162-146, 16th Season)

Top returners: Colin Burkis (Sr. G All-County Second Team), Najier Daniels (Sr. F), Tah-jae Hill (Sr. G Monroe County Division One Player of the Year, All-Greater Rochester First Team) and Ryan Kurtz (Jr. F) and Jason Story (Sr. G).

Top newcomers: Landon Ciliberto (Jr. G), Nick Graziano (Jr. G), Preston Prince (So. G) and Greyson Trubia (Fr. F).

First game: Tuesday, December 3rd, at 7:15 p.m. vs. Churchville-Chili.

Outlook: Hilton has potential for another great season if it defends consistently, scores from the post and have team chemistry. Najier Daniels will look to develop as a post scorer and Ryan Kurtz will be featured more in the offense. The Cadets will also rely on strong guard play led by Tah-jae Hill’s ability to penetrate the defense. The team feeds off Hill’s energy as well.

PENFIELD PATRIOTS (Class AA)

Last season: Finished 5-15, lost in first round Class AA sectionals to Webster Schroeder.

Coach: Jason Ellis (37-47, fifth season)

Top returners: RJ Green (Sr. C) and Ryan Wensley (Sr. G)

Top newcomers: Dyllon Scott (Sr. G/F) All-Greater Rochester Second Team at East High School last season.

First game: Friday, December 6th against Fairport.

Outlook: Penfield has a tough schedule in the early portion of the season with its first five games against Class AA opponents (Fairport, Gates-Chili, Hilton, Rush-Henrietta and Webster Thomas). Can the Patriots establish themselves and bounce back from last year?

RUSH-HENRIETTA ROYAL COMETS (Class AA)

Last season: Finished 10-11, lost in first round of Class AA sectionals to Edison Tech.

Coach: Christopher Reed (390-215, 28th season, 20th at Rush-Henrietta)

Top returners: Eddie Beverly (Sr. G 5.0 PPG), Charles Bowden III (Sr. G 9.0 PPG), Nyles Goodwin (Sr. F 5.0 PPG), and  Jevonte Williams (Sr. G 10.4 PPG).

Top newcomers: Mason Giorgione (So. G), Jalen House (Jr. G/F), Nasir Hunter (So. G), Silas Samuels (Jr. G), Chris Sleeper (Jr. F), RJ Williams (Sr. G) and Gabe Wright (Jr. G/F).

Next game: Friday, December 6th, at Hilton.

Outlook: Rush-Henrietta will rely on its players moving up from an undefeated junior varsity squad. Will the Royal Comets’ team chemistry and balanced offense be enough to compete in Class AA?

VICTOR BLUE DEVILS (Class AA)

Last season: Finished 6-16, lost in Class AA sectional quarterfinals to McQuaid.

Coach: Tyler Roberts.

Top returners: Matt Caggiano (Sr. G 14.5 PPG, 2.7 APG, 49 three-pointers made, All-County First Team), Chase Dickens (Jr. G 5.3 PPG, 2.6 APG),  Phil Nwugwo (So. F 4.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG) and Connor Williams (Jr. F 10.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG All-County Second Team).

Top newcomers: CJ James (Jr. F).

Next game: Thursday, December 5 against Canandaigua.

Outlook: Victor has seven players with varsity experience on its roster. The Blue Devils’ season will depend on well they defend and rebound.

WEBSTER SCHROEDER WARRIORS (Class AA)

Last season: Finished 10-12, lost in Class AA sectional quarterfinals to Gates-Chili

Coach: Rashaad Stokelin (first season)

Top returners: Luke Insley (Jr. Guard 15.7 PPG), Ky’Mere Meeks (Jr. Forward 10.2 PPG) and JoJo Plummer (Sr. Forward 17 PPG, All-County Honorable Mention).

First game: Friday, December 6th at Spencerport, 7:30 PM.

Outlook: Schroeder returns three players who averaged double-digit scoring last season and have a new head coach. The Warriors will look to establish itself as an elite team early, taking on Hilton and Irondequoit in the first two home games of the season.

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