Delone Catholic began the 2020-21 boys’ basketball season 1-4, and the Squires were unable to climb out of the hole they dug for themselves as they finished 8-10 and missed the District 3 playoffs in Class 2A.
It was the seventh straight campaign that Delone has finished at .500 or below. The Squires are looking to end that streak this winter.
“Getting off to a fast start would obviously be preferable,” Delone head coach Brandon Staub said. “It was a weird year with Covid and starting the season late and whatnot. We had four seniors in our rotation last season. But collectively, they didn’t have much varsity experience going into the year. I think that may have contributed to our slow start.”
Delone will be without Matt Rineman (8.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg), Trenton Kopp (6.8 ppg, 3.9 rpg), Ryan Wildasin (5.8 ppg) and Ryan Murphy (5.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg), all of whom graduated in the spring. Rineman was easily the most experienced of that group prior to last season.
The Squires will return senior Coltyn Keller (8.2 ppg, 3.8 apg), who started some as a freshman and has been a full-time starter each of the past two seasons.
“Coltyn is our most experienced player, he’s going into his fourth year as a starter,” Staub said. “He became more of a distributor for us last year than he had been in the two previous seasons.”
Sophomore Camdyn Keller (10.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg) returns as the team’s leading scorer. Keller had a high-game of 21 points and hit double-digits nine times.
“Cam does a lot for us. He gives us great energy and does a lot of things well,” Staub said. “Two years ago, our coaching staff talked about how he probably could’ve helped us as an eighth grader and it’s not often that a kid is good enough in eighth grade to play varsity minutes.”
Senior co-captain Asher Rudolph said of the younger Keller, “Cam is a scorer in every way. But he’s developed a lot as a distributor since last season, too.”
Rudolph (5.3 ppg), along with junior Bryson Kopp (3.7 ppg) have nailed down starting spots according to Staub, who plans to employ an eight-man rotation.
That additional quartet of players, one of which will start, includes sophomore Gage Zimmerman, sophomore Aidan Wittmer, junior Noah Crawford and junior Aidan Bealmear.
“We graduated four guys who played a lot for us last season, but we have some guys that gained real experience last season, too, that we have back,” Staub said. “So we think that that should help us to start the season better. Our guys should be ready for the speed of the varsity game.”
Rudolph added, “I think this is the best team that we’ve had in a while. We’ve got legitimate depth this season.”
Delone posted a 6-8 mark in the YAIAA-3 play a season ago.
“I think Littlestown is the favorite in the division and York Catholic will definitely be a solid team, they always are,” Staub said. “Fairfield is a physically strong team, they’ve got some athletes and their coach (Andy Winebrenner) always has them ready to play. I feel good about where we are as a team. We’ve got guys that are complete players, not guys that we have to hide at one end or the other.”
The Squires lift the curtain on their season with a matchup against Columbia in the Big Spring Tip-Off Tournament on Dec. 10 at 5 p.m. The Crimson Tide finished last season as the runner-up in the Class 3A district tournament with a 16-5 record.
“Columbia has a lot of talent coming back and they’ll be a tough test for us right off the bat,” Staub said. “I was listening to a podcast on the Lancaster-Lebanon League and they were talking about how Columbia should be the favorite to win districts in their class.”
The other half of that tournament features Biglerville facing the host Bulldogs at 8 p.m.
Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas