Basketball Preview: Hoggard hoops looking to gel; South Brunswick emerging as threat; Consistency key for Topsail

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As some high school basketball teams in the area find their early season stride thanks to hard work in the offseason, others are still trying to figure things out moving through the first few weeks of the schedule.

For the Hoggard Vikings, Coach Brett Queen had the chips stacked against his boys early because of a deep run in the state playoffs for football. This past Saturday was the first time the entire roster of players were available for practice.  The Vikings are a work in progress just a couple of games in, but look for Hoggard to find their legs and make a move for a conference title after Christmas break.

The Vikings will find a lot of about themselves over the next few weeks, with limited practice time as a result of playing eight games between now and the New Year. Those eight games include a pair of holiday tournaments where Hoggard will play three games in three days during each event.

On Wednesday, the Vikings battled in a 50-49 setback against Raleigh-Broughton.  Wilkerson led the effort with 17 points. Toudle added seven.

“Obviously, we have a lot to replace from last year,” said Queen. “I think we have the potential to be a really good defensive team, but it is going to take a while for us to gel are we are just getting our football guys back.”

The Vikings graduated all five starters from last year’s team, key returners expected to make an impact include: Robert Wilkerson, Patrick Morrison, Tyler Steinman, Grantland Adams, Greg Blanks and Keon Bradley. Top newcomers are forward Tyler Matlock and Chris Toudle.

South Brunswick

A program that has taken its fair share of lumps over the past few seasons is coming into own in Southport. Led by veteran Coach Scott Wainwright, South Brunswick is off to its best start in some time as the Cougars can thank themselves for sticking to the grind stone.

 

Buying into what it takes to turn a team around isn’t always easy, but the once younger, inexperienced roster is beginning to see the fruits of their labor. South Brunswick could be a dark horse in a Mideastern Conference with no outright favorite moving into league play. Parody in the division could lead to several different scenarios moving into the New Year.

“Our team should be solid,” said Wainwright. “Youngsters are now upperclassman and have worked hard to improve.  We have a tough non-conference schedule and should prepare us for conference grind.”

Players to watch

  • Kareem Randolph, Jr.  averaged 8.4 points per game last year
  • Xavier Williams, Jr. Averaged 7 points per game and 7 rebounds per game last year
  • Andrew Mosely, Jr. Averaged 8.6 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game last year.
  • Keyshawn Jenkins, point guard
  • Brandon Gonzales, key player off the bench

Top newcomer

  • Jace McKenney, Sophomore

Topsail

The fate of Topsail this season will rest in its upperclassmen with six juniors and six seniors on the roster. Johnny Tartaglione has emerged as a scoring threat through five games after seeing limited action last year.  Paired alongside Alec Baker and Kodiak Nestor-Dowling, the Pirates have a couple of pieces to make it interesting within the 3A portion of the split 3A/4A Mideastern Conference.

Tartaglione, Baker and Owen Ellis are averaging double digits in the early going, while Brandon Lofton and Caleb Bloodworth look to make an impact in addition to Jacob Floyd off the bench.

Topsail needs to find some confidence and consistency through the next couple of games if its hopes to compete during the conference push. Baker dropped 21 points on Wednesday in a 56-34 victory over North Brunswick.  Dowling added 11 points in the result as the Pirates improved to 3-2 overall.