By Anthony Mauro Jr.
MIDDLETOWN – Following a “developmental period,” the Middletown South boys’ basketball team looks to come out firing on all cylinders while putting those developed skills to use this season.
“As of today, we are comfortable and confident with a rotation of eight players,” said head coach Kevin Cullen.
Four of those players are returning starters Jim Dzugan (Sr.), Joe Castellano (Sr.), James McDonough (Sr.), and Sam Brodsky (Jr.). The other four key players will be Tom DiMeo (Jr.), Mike Diorio (Jr.), Matt Mauro (Jr.), and John Whalen (So.). Only Will Siegfried was lost to graduation.
“After the 2009-2010 season, our program, which had experienced great success throughout the previous four years, began a developmental period. We’ve dedicated ourselves to the individual growth of each player, and last year’s season afforded us the opportunity to play our youth and accumulate game experience. This year, we are much more prepared for the nightly battles that playing in A North brings. We have focused on controlling the pace of the game to cater to our strengths, and have fully committed ourselves to consistently strong defensive efforts. This is a cerebral group, and our players realize the importance of the intangibles that could foster our success. We are still young and there will certainly be a learning curve involved with the season. As a program, we take it one practice and one game at a time. We’ve committed ourselves to one simple notion – being better,” said Cullen.
The Middletown South girls basketball team may be young but they are returning seven varsity players, have four newcomers, and look to improve upon head coach Tom Brennan’s 233-129 career record in his 16th season.
Those seven returning players consist of 5’9” guard/forward Kiera Gannon (Jr.), 5’7” guard Carissa Gray (Jr.), 5’10” power forward Jackie Dluhi (Jr.), 5’2” guard Tara Cangialosi (Sr.), 5’8” guard/forward Lauren Van Exter (Jr.), 5’8” guard/forward Christiana Rutkowski (So.), and 5’4” guard Brianna Haspel (So.).
The four key newcomers are 5’4” guard Kelsey Logan (Sr.), 5’8” guard/forward Rachel Becker (So.), 6’0” forward Jill Falvey (Fr.), and 5’6” guard Angela DeBartelome (Fr.).
“The Junior class has plenty of experience, playing varsity basketball since freshman year. The overall ability for the team to rebound and get consistent scoring from the junior class will be keys to success. We will be solid on the defensive side of the ball; long and athletic. But early pressure will be placed on the freshmen and sophomores to push themselves to meet the expectations the program has established over the last seven years or so. How quickly they buy into a defense first mentality, how seamlessly they adjust to the complicated offensive philosophies, and perhaps most important, how physically they adjust to the speed and strength of high school varsity basketball will go a long way towards dictating our success. Gannon, Gray, Dluhi, and Van Exter were all starters last year and have developed very good nonverbal communication on offense and even better verbal communication on defense to lead this team akin to being coaches on the floor. They have been tremendous to this point at taking ownership of the team,” said Brennan.