By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Is it possible to win a good amount of games while also embarking on a rebuilding project?
The Lower Cape May Regional High School boys basketball team is sure going to try.
The Caper Tigers enter the new season with just two returning players who saw significant varsity minutes last season. Moreover, freshmen are expected to make up as much as half of the team’s regular rotation.
But there’s a sense around the program that Lower might be able to perform better than some outsiders think it will.
“My expectations are really just to come into practice every day and get us as a team better,” Lower coach Scott Holden said. “What that leads to, I have no idea. But our scrimmages have been surprising to me, on the positive side.”
Senior Tom Gault (6-0 F) and junior Jordan Pierce (6-3 F) are the team’s returning starters. Gault is an overachiever who does some of the dirty work inside, while Pierce is an above-average three-point shooter who’s worked to add other skills to his game.
Seniors Tyler Pine (6-4 F) and Damyon Benciviengo (6-1 G) also return after seeing limited varsity time last season.
Lower is blessed with a heralded freshmen class. Archie Lawler (6-2 G/F) and Jacob Bey (6-4 F) are expected to start, while Manny Weaver (5-11 F) and Jared Knights (5-10 G/F) are in line to see significant playing time.
“They’re out there for a reason,” Holden said. “They’ve proved it. They deserve it.”
Holden sees great potential in the team’s freshmen class.
“We had a good freshmen group (six years ago) but what’s different about this group is that these are definitely all basketball players,” he said. “As a group, they could end up being potentially better. There are some other promising kids, too. We’ve had some practices where 10 of the 16 guys out there have been freshmen.”
Others in the mix to contribute include junior James Jamison (6-0 G) and sophomore Joe Whiteside (6-0 G).
Lower will look to compete as best as possible in a solid Cape-Atlantic National Conference.
The team opens with a CAL crossover game Thursday at home against Vineland.
“We’ve definitely seen some positives, but we’ve also definitely seen some mistakes that come with inexperience,” Holden said. “When you only have two players with a lot of varsity experience that’s going to happen. But I’ve enjoyed working with this group and I know they’ll keep getting better.”
Holden’s assistants are his brother, Pat, along with Rocco Sansone and Scott Douglass.