Ocean City Today

Mallards return experienced vets

Starting lineup for WP boys’ basketball squad includes four seniors and one junior
By Managing Editor, Lisa Capitelli | Nov 30, 2017
Photo by: Lisa Capitelli “All of the starters have been on the team three or four years. That will help us a lot and we have some decent reserves that can come in and give everyone a rest,” said Worcester Prep boys’ basketball Coach Keith Geiger.

(Dec. 1, 2017) The Worcester Prep boys’ basketball team returns seasoned veterans to lead the charge for the 2017-18 season.

“I think experience will be a big part of it. We’re experienced, knowledgeable, guys look stronger, faster,” Prep Coach Keith Geiger said. “They’ve been through it before and they’ve been in a few championship games and know not to panic. They can handle close games and situations because they’ve been doing it for a few years now.”

The players are also working on conditioning to run the court and be effective on fast breaks.

“Our athleticism will help. We’re making it a top priority at practice,” Geiger said. “We’re trying to make it a point to push the ball. I think we’re more than capable of doing it.”

Four seniors and one junior are in the starting lineup for Worcester.

“All of the starters have been on the team three or four years,” Geiger said. “That will help us a lot and we have some decent reserves that can come in and give everyone a rest.”

Eleven players are on Geiger’s roster. Six of them competed last year when the team went 13-5. The Mallards captured their second consecutive Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference tournament championship last year with a 55-45 victory over Salisbury School.

Leading the team this year are senior captains Tucker Brown, Sam Cantello, Brenner Maull and Brendan Miller.

“They know what to do. They know the plays and they have good instincts,” Geiger said. “I need them to step up and be leaders, direct traffic on the court and set a good example and they’ve been doing that.”

Brown earned All-ESIAC honors for his performance during the 2016-17 season and was named Player of the Year. He led Worcester in points (238), rebounds (79) and blocks (seven).

Miller received All-ESIAC Honorable Mention accolades.

“I think me and the other senior captains are going to be good leaders this year for the younger guys,” Miller, a three-year varsity player, said. “We’re coming along really well. We’ve made a lot of progress since the beginning of the season.

“We’re always a fit team,” he added. “If we can just keep pushing the court I think that will help a lot.”

Cantello and Maull missed most of last year. Maull suffered an ankle sprain very early in the season and Cantello had knee surgery in the fall to repair a torn meniscus. They both returned to the basketball court late in the year.

Geiger said the pair will “be big for us this year.”

“We’ve got a lot of older guys and we’ve been playing together for a while,” Cantello, a member of the team since his freshman year, said. “It should be a pretty good year. I feel like I have a lot of experience and I’ve played a lot of basketball, especially with these kids, so it’s pretty easy to communicate and play well together.”

Cantello said all of the Mallards are working hard.

“We’ve definitely made a big improvement since the beginning of the season,” he said. “It’s been a lot of fun. We just want to have the best season we can.”

Junior Colin Miller will take over the point guard role this year. Miller ended the 2016-17 season on a high note, stepping up in the championship game and leading the Mallards with 18 points.

“We’ll look for him to take a step forward this year,” Geiger said. “I know he’s capable of that sort of breakout game. He did it in the championship game. I think he can be a good distributor.”

Junior Cooper Richins, Geiger said, can play anywhere on the court and the veteran will contribute as well.

Geiger was pleasantly surprised with the new players and how effective they have been on the court.

“They work really hard and we have some good athletes,” he said. “When they’re in they play good, solid defense. I feel good about putting them in.”

The goal is to win the conference championship and tournament at the end of the season, Geiger said.

“They have the basic understanding of offense and defense, we just have to fine-tune now,” Geiger said. “They know what to do. I don’t have to teach offense, defense or inbound plays. A lot of them remember the plays more than I do.”

Worcester won the season opener, 58-18, over the Holly Grove Eagles on Wednesday in Berlin.

“It was a great way to start the year. Everybody was getting out and running and that led to a bunch of easy layups,” Geiger said. “Great defensive intensity [as well].”

Worcester led 13-3 at the end of the first quarter and 31-9 at halftime. After three quarters, the Mallards were ahead 49-12.

Brown led the team with 20 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. Maull chipped in with 17 points. He also had eight steals and five assists.

“Brenner Maull was taking over with his defense,” Geiger said. “[He had] steal after steal and when he wasn’t getting the steal he ran the court as fast as possible.”

This is Geiger’s sixth season as head coach. Tim McMullen returns as an assistant coach. Greg Palmer joins the coaching staff to assist with the basketball program.

“He’s knowledgeable, he’s a great teacher and he has good energy,” Geiger said of Palmer. “He’s a huge help. He makes us better and he makes the kids better.”

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