King’s isn’t used to starting the offseason in February. But things will start to feel familiar before long.
The Monarchs’ season ended last Saturday without a trip to the Freedom Conference tournament, which they had won three of the past four seasons to earn trips to the NCAA tournament.
Much of that success came from having a core of three- and four-year starters that created a strong chemistry in the starting lineup.
While the rest of the local college basketball scene makes plans to replace key senior starters, the Monarchs have their full complement of players returning for next season.
The following is a rundown of each area team headed into next season.
Departing seniors: None
Returning starters: Kyle Stackhouse, Mike Wagner, Nick Reisig, Jim Schule, Kevin Conroy
Despite a heap of inexperience, the Monarchs hung tough in nearly every league game they played in. On several occasions they had a chance to win or tie games on the final possession.
Conroy was a monster in the paint as a sophomore and finished in the top-five in the league in scoring. If King’s can develop a consistent threat from the perimeter, it could land Conroy a scoring title before he leaves.
Departing seniors: Vinny Baumunk, Marqus Hunter, Andy Smith
Returning starters: Marcus Little, Robbie Johnson, Dom Del Prete
Baumunk was as impressive as anyone not named Willie Chandler to play for the Cougars, and finding a big body to take over for him won’t be easy. Rising senior Del Prete will help replace his toughness, to be sure.
Little will be one of the most experienced point guards in the league, while Johnson is talented enough to be the new focal point of the offense. Jeff Slanovec and Ethan Eichhorst saw quality minutes as freshmen.
Departing seniors: Steve Kline, John Defeo
Returning starters: Chris DeRojas, Chris Gulla, Tom Kresge, Kendall Hinze
The Colonels should once again be one of the favorites to win the conference along with DeSales. Losing Kline will hurt, but rising senior Anthony Gabriel looked strong late in the season and could slide into his spot down low.
In his final season, Kresge has the potential to be the top player in the league and sharpshooter DeRojas will be more accustomed to the heavy attention from opposing defenses.
Departing seniors: Kaitlyn Fiorino, Andrea Carroll
Returning starters: Brittany Muscatell, Paige Carlin, Julianna Lynott, Kaitlyn Malshefski
While it won’t be possible to completely replace Fiorino, the school’s third all-time leading scorer, the Lady Monarchs liked what they saw from their large freshman class.
Muscatell plays very similarly to her predecessor Lauren Kendra and Lynott showed some very promising flashes down the stretch. A group of rising seniors consisting Malshefski, Jessica Paettie and Krystina Durako will be instrumental to the team’s success.
Departing seniors: Lindsey Sykes, Lacey DeGraw, Rachel Selert, Julia Bebry, Katie Fox
Returning starters: Courtney Sykes, Vanessa Wright, Jesse Robinson
The Cougars will be very young, returning just four players total from this past season’s roster – the above three and freshman Christine Marks.
Marks will help step in for 1,000-point scorer DeGraw and fellow rookie Robinson looked impressive while seeing heavy minutes. Finding someone to run the offense will be one of the biggest challenges.
Departing seniors: Chelsey Gosse, Khadija Bates
Returning starters: Allison Horn, Brittany Ely, Samantha Simcox, Mackensey O’Hara
The Lady Colonels look poised to continue their turnaround and challenge for a berth in the Freedom Conference tournament. A big factor in that, however, will be staying healthy.
Wilkes’ season began to crumble this past season when point guard Horn was knocked out with an injury. Simcox had a strong debut campaign and Ely is one of the league’s better defenders.