2020-21 Observer basketball preview

Basketball is here, and the Observer has a rundown of what to expect during the new season.

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  • | 11:24 a.m. November 25, 2020
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Basketball season is upon us, ladies and gentlemen, and with it comes the Observer basketball preview.

The girls season tipped off a week ago, and some teams — such as Brian Rizo’s West Orange squad — already are winning early and often. Meanwhile, many boys teams around the area got their regular season going this week at the inaugural Metro Hoops Fest in Apopka.

The following is a look at the upcoming season and what to look out for when it comes to the area’s talented programs.



Head coach: Andrew Gustafson

2019-20 record: 22-8

Key players: Nick Rodriguez, Imanuel Zorgvol

Key losses: Riley Kugel, Jajuan Preaster, Nicolas Silva

Quick hit: CFCA lost its most talented player — Riley Kugel — to transfer (Dr. Phillips), and will have a largely new lineup this season. The region runner-up will have talent, though, especially in senior 7-footer Manuel Zorgvol.


Head coach: Blessing Freeman

2019-20 record: 9-9

Key players: Talia Kemp, Aubrey Satterfield

Key losses: N/A

Quick hit: First-year head coach Blessing Freeman made the move from Legacy to CFCA this year and is looking to lead the Eagles to a successful 2020-21 season.



Head coach: Ben Witherspoon

2019-20 record: 20-8

Key players: Riley Kugel, Ernest Udeh, Denzel Aberdeen

Key losses: Abdoulaye Thiam, Juneau Anicette

Quick hit: Last year, the Panthers won the Class 7A, District 3 title and made a deep run into the state playoffs in head coach Ben Witherspoon’s first year. Now, DP enters the season a favorite in Class 7A thanks to a loaded group of players who have everything in place to make it a special season.


Head coach: Anthony Jones

2019-20 record: 14-13

Key players: Mykiah Presley, Skylar Thompson

Key losses: N/A

Quick hit: Dr. Phillips’ girls team was a young team last year (the team had no seniors), which means the Panthers return their core lineup — allowing head coach Anthony Jones to have some consistency to improve on last season’s 14-13 record.



Head coach: Nathaniel Hughes

2019-20 record: 10-17

Key players: Braden Holcomb, Danny Stutsman

Key losses: Joshneil Orys, Parrell Ittai

Quick hit: It was an up-and-down 2019-20 season for the Lions, but the good news is they return a big chunk of their talent from last season, as multi-sport standouts Braden Holcomb (13.7 points per game) and Danny Stutsman (11.3 points per game) return to the court.


Head coach: Krystal Thomas-Smith

2019-20 record: 14-5

Key players: Chelsey Bryant, Zoe Sedo, Landry Wolverton

Key losses: Aliyah Perry

Quick hit: Former head coach Deborah Pinnick has handed over the program’s reins over to former WNBA player Krystal Thomas-Smith, and she has inherited a talented team that won the district title last year. Through two games so far, Zoe Sedo leads the team with 16.5 points per game, while Chelsey Bryant has 13.5.



Head coach: Russell Hunt

2019-20 record: 7-13

Key players: Noah Velasquez

Key losses: Jacob Worley, Eli Post 

Quick hit: The Eagles lose their top two scorers in Jacob Worley and Eli Post but do return senior Noah Velasquez — who last year year averaged about 13 points per game.


Head coach: Patrina Freeman

2019-20 record: Did not field a team

Quick hit: Last season, Legacy failed to field a girls team, but this year, the Eagles look to take off under first-year head coach Patrina Freeman.



Head coach: John “Sarge” Siers

2019-20 record: 22-8

Key players: Johnny Taylor Jr., Christian Chambers

Key losses: Kordell Brown,  David Green, Sadeem Blake

Quick hit: Ocoee had its best season in school history last year as the Knights made a run to the Region 1 final — where they lost to eventual state runner-up Seminole. This year John “Sarge” Siers is without a lot of the talent from last season’s team, but has a squad of juniors and seniors looking to leave their mark at the school.


Head coach: Marcus Spencer

2019-20 record: 10-12

Key players: Reese Bellamy, Daisha Christie, Bethlehem Ruttell

Key losses: Jahnecia Charles, Chakiya Scott

Quick hit: Longtime Ocoee Middle girls coach Marcus Spencer takes over a program that has been looking for stability for a good while now, and he will have girls such as Reese Bellamy and Bethlehem Ruttell to help him rebuild the program.



Head coach: Rob Gordon

2019-20 record: 15-11

Key players: Tyeree Bryan, Jackson Dillon

Key losses: Julian Fletcher, Edgerrin James Jr.

Quick hit: After finishing 6-21 in the 2018-19 season, last year was a big improvement for the Titans — they finished with a winning record (15-11). Now, head coach Rob Gordon hopes to continue improving on last season’s progress and make some noise at the Class 7A level.


Head coach: Gina Solano

2019-20 record: 10-14

Key players: Danielle Dupuis, Aysia Collins

Key losses: Chenoa Johnson, Deaira Keaton

Quick hit: Olympia has not recorded a winning record since the 2016-17 season, but the Titans are looking to make some progress in Year Two under head coach Gina Solano in what she called a rebuilding year for the Titans.



Head coach: Chris Mayberry

2019-20 record: 15-12

Key players: Jayden Battle, Sean Johnson

Key losses: Kam Summers, Alex Shields

Quick hit: TFA lost two of its top three scorers from last season but return leading scorer Jayden Battle — who last year averaged 15.6 points per game for the Royals.


Head coach: Matt Grant

2019-20 record: 13-8

Key players: Sariah Johnson

Key losses: Alexis Martin, ShaRiya Davis, McKenzi Neal

Quick hit: For the fifth consecutive year, the Royals finished above .500, but this season, TFA will play without its top scorer and rebounder on the court. Luckily, the Royals return a talented eighth-grader in Sariah Johnson.



Head coach: Eric Jones

2019-20 record: 17-12

Key players: Mike McCalister, EJ Yorke, Jalen Debose

Key losses: Garrison Smith

Quick hit: West Orange looks to progress this season after going 17-12 in the 2019-20 season, and it’s easy to believe the Warriors will do just that behind leading scorer and rebounder Mike McCalister (17.1 PPG, 10.2 RPG) and Windermere transfer EJ Yorke — who led the Wolverines last year in scoring with 19.4 points per game.


Head coach: Brian Rizo

2019-20 record: 16-11

Key players: Ajalon Gillard, Lakada Bryant

Key losses: Camryn Siemer, Paris Pickett

Quick hit: West Orange may have lost its leading scorer and assist woman in Camryn Siemer, as well as Paris Pickett, but the Warriors still return talent this season — especially in senior co-captain Lakada Bryant.



Head coach: Mark Griseck

2019-20 record: 21-9

Key players: Trey Moss, Kanye Jones

Key losses: EJ Yorke, Darrel Armstrong Jr. 

Quick hit: The Windermere basketball program has been a consistent power since the school opened in 2017, and that trend will continue this year as the Wolverines return two Division I signees in the talented Trey Moss and Kanye Jones. Last season, Windermere finished as region runner-up, but expect another big year from the Wolverines.


Head coach: Misty Cox

2019-20 record: 19-6

Key players: Abigail Crain, Ashley Vargas

Key losses: Kayla Green

Quick hit: Last season, the Windermere girls team was the best in the area, thanks in large part to point guard Abigail Crain — who led the team in points per game (16.3) and steals per game (3.6). 



Head coach: Brian Hoff

2019-20 record: 27-4

Key players: Elijah Hulsewe, Zavien Williams, Gabriel Ferguson

Key losses: Fanbo Zeng, Jouldan Velez

Quick hit: Leading scorer and recent Gonzaga commit Fanbo Zeng won’t be making it back to the states to play this season; the ongoing pandemic will keep him stuck in his homeland of China for the time being. Regardless, the Lakers will have plenty of big talent — literally — in Elijah Hulsewe (6-11) and Lake Highland Prep transfer Gabe Ferguson (6-7).


Head coach: Radhika Miller

2019-20 record: 7-9

Key players: Madison Workman, Olivia Ikeda, Grace Anderson

Key losses: N/A

Quick hit: First-year head coach Radhika Miller takes over a program that returns its entire core of players, including senior combo guard Madison Workman — who led the team in scoring with 17.4 points per game.


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