Returning to another season on the sidelines for the Ramblers, coach Mark Majewski will have his hands full this year. With a much younger group than usual, the emergence of Erie High, and some key additions for McDowell, the competition will give Prep all they can handle. However, confidence is not lacking on West 9th Street. Although talent may be high, experience is low. Can the Ramblers overcome the odds, or will they crumble under the pressure?
Backcourt: The keys to the offense will be handed to senior Aaron McBride. The hope is that McBride is next in the long line of great Prep point guards. Last year, he was forced to play second fiddle to Jaryn Simpson, who now plays for Edinboro University. McBride has basketball in his blood as his sister, Kayla, is a WNBA All-Star. If there is any experience shortage in the backcourt, it is more than made up for with McBride. “As a leader, I motivate my teammates to be the best version of themselves in basketball, but more importantly to be great young men.”
The off guard spot will be manned by a committee of sophomore Alfonso Pickens, freshman Michael Lucarotti, junior Isiah Crosby, versatile sophomore Quentin Santillan, and hard-working junior Caden Elwell. Both Pickens and Crosby have the ability to slide over to point guard to spell McBride. The presumptive sixth man, Tommy Russo, will bring defensive tenacity and experience off the bench.
Senior Adam Upperman may very well be Prep’s best overall player. He uses his length, quickness, and athleticism to get to the rim and be a disruptive presence on defense. He’s worked extremely hard to improve his jump shot and if the four 3s to open the season against North Allegheny is any indication, it’s paid off.
Frontcourt: The biggest offseason get for the Ramblers was 6’6” 285-pound center, Josh Charlery. Charlery formerly played for the U.S. Virgin Islands national team and is a big, physical presence Prep needs. If he can stay on the floor for longer periods of time, he will be invaluable to the success of the team this year. Joining him down low as soon as next week will be Joe Mischler. Fresh off back-to-back football state championships as the starting quarterback, Mischler needs some time to get back into basketball form and looks to add a level of intensity to the team.
Also looking to get some time in the rotation are athletic junior Sam Knox, sophomore Vincent Pisano, impressive freshman Liam Galla, and hustler Joe Corsale.
Final Analysis: This is the youngest Prep team in recent memory, but don’t directly link youth with disappointment. This team also boasts more depth than it typically has in years past. There are many able bodies ready to battle for playing time right away, and they won’t go down without a fight. If the senior core of Upperman, McBride, and Charlery set the tone for the team early and a couple of the young guys step up to play important roles, this could be as balanced and unpredictable a team as they come. Regardless of the results this year, the program is definitely heading in the right direction and looks to be a force for years to come. But, don’t ever rule the Ramblers out—they’ve proven their doubters wrong once or twice before.