IRVINGTON – The Irvington High School boys’ varsity basketball team features a senior-dominated group this season.
In fact, the Blue Knights will mainly go with seven seniors and one freshman in the rotation.
But most of those seniors will have new roles this season.
Nevertheless, second-year head coach Elias Brantley knows his team will come out and play hard each game, particularly on defense, which bodes well for their hopes to improve on last year’s 12-13 record.
“I try to preach to them that if we come out and play defense, we’ll be successful,” Brantley said. “The kids play hard. They don’t have a lot of experience, but they always play hard. If they continue to do that and get better on the defensive end, I tell them that we can be able to compete with anybody.”
IHS will host Orange in the season opener on Friday, Dec. 18, at 4 p.m. in a Super Essex Conference-American Division game.
The Blue Knights were hit hard by graduation, losing such key players as guards Shawn Bender and Kevin Moise and forward Kyrie Thompson. Moreover, forward Nigel Marshall, who had a breakout year as a freshman last season, transferred.
Senior guard Jakylin Shuford is the lone returning starter. Other returnees who will be new starters are seniors Talik Lee, Othniel Nyameke and Marquise Pierce.
Lee and Pierce will share the point-guard duties. Nyameke, a 6-foot-4 power forward, is expected to be a big contributor in the paint. Shuford, Nyameke and Lee will be the go-to players for the team. In the first preseason scrimmage against Carteret on Dec. 8, the trio combined for 40 points.
Senior guard Ahmere Nelson, who played JV last year, also will provide a spark. He scored eight points against Carteret.
“We’re definitely looking for some offensive firepower from him,” Brantley said.
The newcomers include senior guard Dashaun Daniels, senior forward Asaad Lawrence and freshman forward Nasir Johnson, who has shown a lot of promise, Brantley said.
With a simple offense and a defensive-minded approach, the Blue Knights hope to become competive by season’s end.
“If they play hard, play smart and play together on offense, and defensively we continue to grow throughout the (season), by the end of the (season), we’ll be able to compete with anybody,” Brantley said.
Following the season opener, IHS will visit nearby Columbia on Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.