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BOYS HOOPS PREVIEW: Middle out to prove itself against tough schedule (with video)

Seniors (from left) Mike Sgrignioli, Drew Harris, Coley Holton, Cameron Freeman, A.J. Baez and Jordan Holton (not pictured) look to lead the Middle Township High School boys basketball team into the 2018-19 season.


Mascot: Panthers

Conference: Cape-Atlantic United

Enrollment group: South Jersey II

2017-18 record: 13-13

Head coach: Anthony Farmer (third season, 24-28)

Assistant coaches: Ryan Babnew, Lenny Cooke, Tariq Gaskins, Andy Ludman, Steve Prince

Returning players: Seniors – A.J. Baez (5-9 G), Drew Harris (6-0 G), Cameron Hamer (6-2 F), Coley Holton (6-5 F); Juniors – Matt Marino (6-0 G/F), Miles Sapp (6-3 F).

Top newcomers: Seniors – Jordan Holton (6-5 F), Mike Sgrignioli (5-9 G); Junior – Torey Harris (6-3 F); Sophomores – Charlie McNeal (5-9 G), Marcus Pierce (6-0 G/F).

Strengths: Proven varsity scorer, athleticism

Weaknesses: Depth

Outlook: This will be an interesting season for Middle, which, despite losing a couple of good varsity players from last season to transfer in Jalen Freeman (Pleasantville) and DaSean Lopez (Wildwood Catholic), could more competitive than people think. Coley Holton is a proven double-digit varsity scorer who is very crafty around the basket and will be a handful for other teams to guard. Fellow seniors Cameron Freeman and A.J. Baez saw significant varsity action last year and senior Drew Harris and junior Matt Marino add outside shooting talent. The Panthers do face a very difficult schedule, however. In addition to competing in a loaded CAL United Conference that includes such powerhouses as Wildwood Catholic, St. Joseph and Pleasantville, Middle will also face St. Augustine, Winslow Township, Eastern and Cherry Hill East, among others, in out-of-conference games. The team will also compete in a difficult three-game holiday tournament at Southern Regional. But head coach Anthony Farmer is hoping the challenges of the regular season will have the team battled tested by the start of the South Jersey Group II playoffs.

Coach’s quote: “It’s a process, but I think we have a chance to be very competitive,” Farmer said. “I like how we’re playing as a team. I think our chemistry is better with this year’s group. … We want to play good teams. I think that’s the only way you get better. We have a very tough schedule but I hope that has us playing well at the end of the season and we can make a run in Group II. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Season opener: Friday vs. Ocean City, 7 pm