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2010 BOYS BASKETBALL: Raptors have height to spare

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2010 BOYS BASKETBALL: Raptors have height to spare

Ravenwood's Evan Forhetz (2) passes the ball to teammate J.P. Liederbach while Joey Barnes screens out a Hendersonville player Tuesday. / Photos by Alexa Goss

Bruins, Eagles both rebuilding this season
By CAROL STUART
For Brentwood Home Page
The sky's the limit for this year's Ravenwood boys basketball team, and a lot of that is due to several skyscraper-size players on the Raptors' roster.

The Raptors have not one, not two, but four players about 6-foot-6 in height. RHS will line up 6-6 senior starters in the front court with Robert Veal and Sam Wilcox, while junior J.P. Leiderbach and sophomore Joey Barnes will come off the bench.

"I was joking with the kids that we're just two years removed from having a 6-1 post player," Coach Patrick Whitlock said. "Obviously, it makes a big difference. . . . It's just really a luxury that we have not had."

And senior point guard Evan Forhetz, a finalist for the state High School Heisman, is the floor leader who makes the team go.

The Raptors (1-0), coming off a 20-win season and the program's first regional victory, will be a lot for other teams to deal with this season. They opened their season Tuesday with a 69-60 victory over Hendersonville.

"Ravenwood’s height will be a problem for everyone," Brentwood High Coach Dennis King said. "Height can be minimized with a variety of strategies:  spreading the floor, speeding up the game, going inside out, quick double teams and scrapes. But height is the one skill a coach can’t teach."

BHS, with a young and inexperienced team, will be among the 11-AAA squads chasing Ravenwood. In Division II-AA, Brentwood Academy also will have a youthful squad this season.

The Bruins (1-0) and Eagles (0-1) will meet up in an early-season game this Thursday in a Hall of Fame double-header at BA.

"The BA matchup will be fun," King said. "We haven’t played them in several years, so neither team knows a whole lot about each other."

Here's a closer preseason look at all three boys basketball teams: 

Ravenwood High
Besides playmaker Forhetz and twin towers Veal and Wilcox, the Raptors return junior guard Devin Robinson (7 ppg, 2 assists, 1.3 steals). Forhetz averaged 14 points, 3 assists and 1.3 steals a game, while Veal and Wilcox each provided 6 points and 5 rebounds per contest.

Forhetz led the team with 20 points, and Robinson scored 16 Tuesday. Veal and Wilcox combined for 19 inside.

"The kid just loves basketball, he's very passionate about it," Whitlock said about Forhetz. "I would have to say he's probably our hardest worker. ... He has those skills to really elevate his game and make

Robert Veal (1) soars above opposing players and sinks an incredible shot.

us a better team.

"The beauty of it is we've got a bunch of other kids that are following his lead. Some other seniors, Robert Veal and Sam Wilcox, have worked really hard as well. That's going to be the key -- we can't be complacent."

RHS finished last season strong at 20-14 by winning the district tournament and making the region semifinals. And the bulk of the team is back.

"I think on paper this is probably the best team I will have had here, and with that comes pretty high expectations," said Whitlock, who is 61-58 entering his fifth year at RHS.

"... With the changing of roles -- we're used to be the hunter, and now we're going to be the hunted --  it'll be interesting to see how the kids respond."

Ravenwood did lose two key contributors to graduation, guard Matt Richardson (10 points, 2.8 assists per game) and forward Thomas Allen (7 ppg, 5 rpg).

Junior guard Andy Moore and senior guard Riley Stoner, a Raptors football player, are expected to step up, Whitlock said. Leiderbach and Barnes (who is closer to 6-7) will both contribute on the front line.

"I think we have some height that I know is unparalleled in Williamson County and I would think is pretty tough to deal with throughout Middle Tennessee," Whitlock said.

But the team needs to improve defensively, plus faces a tough schedule while trying to duplicate last season's success, he said.

Besides challenges from top 11-AAA foes Brentwood, Independence, Centennial and Franklin, the Raptors will also see stiff competition at a holiday tournament in Memphis.

Brentwood High
The Bruins are a young, inexperienced team with four seniors who have limited varsity action, but should be competitive, Coach Dennis King said. Brentwood finished 12-13 last season with a first-round loss in the district tournament, despite an early-season victory over state tournament team Beech.

Returning starters are 6-3 senior guard James Cox, who averaged 11 points last season, and junior point guard Jack Montague, who added 7 points and 4.2 assists per game.

Senior center Will Joiner, committed to play golf for Marquette, gives the Bruins some height under the basket at 6-6. Joiner, who led the Bruins golf team back to state, pulled down 4 rebounds a game last season in hoops.

BHS is losing a lot of offense, though, from current University of the South player Anvil Nelson, a 6-3 forward who averaged 12 points and 6 rebounds a game, and 6-foot guard Josh Tidwell, who scored at a 13.4-point clip.

Senior 5-foot-11 wing Skyler Sims and senior 5-8 guard Jon Johnson are expected to contribute a lot this year. Sophomore forwards Cody Shelton, at 6-foot-5, and Will Jones, who is 6-3, will add depth on the baseline, and classmate Andrew Wilson, a 5-8 guard, should see some playing time.

"Our sophomore class will be counted on to help right away.  Cody Shelton and Will Jones will play significant minutes," King said. "I think we can eventually be very competitive in our district." 

The team has decent athleticism and outside shooting, but lacks physical maturity and consistent inside scoring, the BHS coach said.

The Bruins won their opener at home against Dickson County 59-46 on Tuesday behind 22 points and four 3-poinetrs from Cox. They will play in the Charles Davis Foundation Showcase at Belmont University on Dec. 11.

Ravenwood and Franklin should provide the toughest competition in the district, added King (541-256), BHS coach for a total of 24 seasons.

RHS and BHS face off at Brentwood on Jan. 21 and at Ravenwood in the regular-season finale Feb. 11, both Friday nights.

Brentwood Academy
Senior Weldon Garlington, also one of the Eagles' best football players, is a 5-foot-10 shooting guard who averaged 20 points a game last season.

"We graduated only one senior and will have experience with six seniors this year and many younger players who gained valuable experience last season," said Coach Lyle Husband, 61-13 in five seasons at BA.

The Eagles, coming off an 11-11 campaign, have depth and quickness, but lack size, Husband added.

Asa Duvall, a 6-foot sophomore guard, is a key addition to the team after averaging 10 points a game as a freshman.

Defending state champion MBA and semifinalist Ensworth will be the toughest tests for BA in the Division II-AA region.

The Eagles, playing without Garlington until football season is over, lost their season-opener Tuesday at Shelbyville 73-66. Fred Dilworth led Brentwood Academy with 16 points, while Josh Lester scored 12.

BA plays in a Memphis holiday tournament in December and closes the regular season at Ensworth Feb. 15.

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