If the early season is any indication, a couple of Centre County teams are going to be in the mix for a Mountain League title.
Defending champion Bald Eagle Area is off to a 2-0 start, while Penns Valley has jumped out of the gate at 3-0. Philipsburg-Osceola and Bellefonte are looking to bounce back from tough seasons a year ago.
Defending District 6 Class AAAA champion State College is off to a rough 0-4 start. St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy will begin its first season at the varsity level.
BEA returns four starters from a squad that went 21-4 last winter. The Eagles are led by junior Brandon Gettig and senior twin brothers Bryce and Bryan Greene. Gettig is averaging 18 points a game so far, while Bryan (14.5) and Bryce (12.5) are also scoring in double figures.
“We will be lacking in height this season, but our speed and defensive pressure should make up for that along with some good perimeter shooting,” coach Bill Butterworth said.
Penns Valley looks well on its way to its 18th consecutive winning season. The Rams did not suffer any major losses and return three All Mountain League players in Luke Weaver (first team), Dalton Ulmanic (second team) and Cameron Tobias (honorable mention).
“We hope to improve day-by-day and game-by-game,” said Rams coach Terry Glunt, whose squad was 12-7 last season. “Our challenging Mountain League schedule, plus some tough non-league games, should hopefully prepare us for district championships in late February.”
Bellefonte returns four starters from last year’s 3-17 club. The Red Raiders are off to an 0-2 start. Seniors Evan Wian and Andrew Stover have led Bellefonte in scoring so far this season.
“We had a really good preseason,” Hazel said. “The kids have bought into what we have been coaching and have worked tremendously hard.”
Philipsburg-Osceola, 5-17 last season, will be looking to rebuild after losing five senior starters. The Mounties are off to a 0-3 start. Trentin Herrington (9.7) and Lewis Jones (9.5) are their leading scorers so far.
“Our challenge is a lack of game experience,” coach Dave McKnight said. “Graduating all five starters from last year’s team makes it important to get experience quickly and come together as a team.”
State College was 17-8 a season ago, but the Little Lions return just two starters from that team. State College has struggled scoring so far this season. Michael Beattie (13.0) is the only Little Lion averaging above six points per game.
“We are focused on trust built on commitment,” State College coach Drew Frank said. “We expect to improve practice-to-practice, possession-by-possession and game-to-game.”
After going 5-6 in a mix of JV and varsity games last season, St. Joseph’s makes the jump to varsity level.
The Wolves are 0-1 so far. Dominic Gregory (13) and Garrett Bastardi (11) are the leading returning scorers from last season.
“We are excited for the season to start,” coach Richard Ciambotti said. “We have a lot of new players who love to compete.”