GCLC CENTRAL BASKETBALL: Purcell short-handed, but still voted No. 1

The injury bug hasn’t been kind to Purcell Marian High School’s boys basketball team this season, but the Cavaliers aren’t exactly in a woeful situation.

They were voted No. 1 in the Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division preseason coaches poll and have started 1-2, losing to La Salle and Chaminade Julienne by a combined seven points and beating Elder 63-57.

Purcell coach Scott Kerr said his squad isn’t where it could be because of the preseason loss of 6-foot-6 senior forward Bryan Warah, who’s recovering from a stress fracture in his back.


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“This summer he was really, really, really good, and we don’t have any idea when he’ll return,” Kerr said. “With Warah being hurt, it just kind of messes up the whole rotation and the vision of the rotation. We’re kind of piecing some things together and playing some guys in positions where they’re not quite as effective.

“We’ve had other guys banged up, but that happens to everybody. No excuses. You try to modify some things and move forward. If we can get Warah back by the tournament, we’ll take that and run with it. In the meantime, we’ll keep throwing different combinations out there until I find one I like.”

The Cavaliers got three No. 1 votes and Badin received one in the Central poll. Badin was second in the voting, while defending champion McNicholas was third and Roger Bacon fourth.

Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber likes his team, which is off to a 4-0 start, but said he still believes Purcell is deserving of its No. 1 status.

“I think the league is very strong up and down the line with all eight teams in the North and Central,” Weisgerber said.

The Cavaliers return three starters beyond Warah and have displayed balanced scoring in their first three games. Purcell’s nonleague schedule includes all four GCL South schools.

“We’ve got some size to play inside, but we’re definitely more athletic-minded,” Kerr said. “We’d have a little more flexibility with Warah. He gave us a guy who could go down there and bang and push and shove.”

Badin has a number of players with varsity experience, though no returning starters from last year’s team. Senior forward Justin Pappas was an all-league performer as a sophomore, but only played in one game in 2017-18 because of a knee injury.

Pappas (16.8) and junior forward Zach Switzer (12.8) are the leading scorers at this point, with seniors Joseph Walsh, Nathan Hegemann and Seth Hargis all getting between eight and 10 points per game.

“I think overall we’re quicker this year than we have been, and we’ve got multiple guys that can shoot it,” Weisgerber said. “We’ve had some games this year where we’ve been down and shown that we can come back. That confidence can only help us down the road.”

McNicholas has some questions to answer, with coach Tim Monahan noting the Rockets lost six seniors and 90 percent of their scoring to graduation. Yet McNick is still winning, opening with victories over Turpin and Carroll this year.

It’s no surprise that junior forward Evan Brunot, the only returning starter, is averaging nearly a double-double. But the leading scorer is 6-5 senior center Josh Burkhardt, who’s getting 16 points per game in his first year of varsity basketball.

“Six of our eight guys playing right now are first-time varsity guys, so just getting them used to the speed and play at the varsity level is key,” Monahan said. “We’re missing two seniors (guards Bryce Kellerman and Luke Brooks) with injuries right now and hope to get them back soon. I think we have the potential to be a good team.

“I personally think whoever wins the Central Division will have 2-3 losses. The North Division is really deep this year.”

Roger Bacon coach Brian Neal is hopeful that his team is on the way back up after going 5-18 last year. Senior guard Jeremiah Flowers has been the top scorer (13.0) in a 2-1 start this year.

Neal, who believes 6-2 sophomore guard Tre Munson and 6-7 sophomore forward Mason Cromer are Division I college prospects, chose not to comment about the Spartans’ last-place finish in the coaches poll.

“I’ll let our play speak for itself,” Neal said.


Here’s how the coaches voted in the preseason Greater Catholic League Coed Central Division boys basketball poll, with point totals and first-place votes (in parentheses):

1. Purcell Marian (3) 15

2. Badin (1) 12

3. McNicholas 7

4. Roger Bacon 6


Here’s a team-by-team preseason look at the GCLC Central teams, with information provided by the coaches:


Coach: Scott Kerr (fifth season)

2017-18 Record: 20-7 overall, 6-4 GCLC Central (second place)

Returning Starters: Alex Dotson (6-4 senior forward), A.J. Garrett (6-6 senior forward), Javonta Lyons (6-1 senior forward), Bryan Warah (6-6 senior forward)

Team Strengths: Depth, experience

Area Of Concern: Must avoid injuries


Coach: Gerry Weisgerber (21st season)

2017-18 Record: 14-10 overall, 4-6 GCLC Central (third place)

Returning Starters: None

Team Strengths: Chemistry, balanced scoring

Area Of Concern: Defensive rebounding


Coach: Tim Monahan (10th season)

2017-18 Record: 19-5 overall, 8-2 GCLC Central (first place)

Returning Starter: Evan Brunot (6-4 junior forward)

Top Newcomer: Josh Burkhardt (6-5 senior center)

Team Strength: Quickness

Area Of Concern: Inexperience


Coach: Brian Neal (14th season)

2017-18 Record: 5-18 overall, 2-8 GCLC Central (fourth place)

Returning Starters: Jeremiah Flowers (6-0 senior guard), Josiah McGee (6-1 junior forward)

Top Newcomers: Mason Cromer (6-7 sophomore center), Tre Munson (6-2 sophomore guard), Marjoni Tate (5-10 sophomore guard)

Team Strength: Versatility

Areas Of Concern: Inexperience, depth

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