Throw in Dontahe Jordan.
The stringy, 6-4 junior varsity call-up came into the District 2-4 Class AAAA semifinal and immediately became Williamsport’s best inside threat. And although the Millionaires ultimately suffered a season-ending 67-55 defeat last February, Taylor knew he’d found a building block inside.
“We’re expecting big things out of Dontahe,” said Taylor nine months later, as his team prepares to begin the 2007-08 season. “We’re expecting him to kind of anchor that paint for us, to dominate the boards. He’s got to be our Windex man.”
Because if Jordan doesn’t do it, who else will?
Between the loss of eight seniors and Taylor not bringing back potential returners like Ken Stewart, Dom Adams-Coffey and Shariff Monroe, Taylor admits this year’s team won’t be as deep as last year’s 19-6 squad
And with only Jordan (6-foot-5) and Thomas James (6-4) as true post players, the Millionaires must depend even more on their quickness and athleticism.
“I’m confident that our guards will be able to orchestrate the offense, break a press, break a trap,” said Taylor, who said he dismissed 10 potential players in all from his program, for reasons other than skill. “But I didn’t expect that I was going to have the team that I have.
“It should be a motivator for the players. Now you get some players who are getting the opportunity to play that probably normally wouldn’t have the opportunity, and you’ve got some guys who have the opportunity to make the team that probably wouldn’t have made it. It’s just opportunity all around.”
Junior guard Jadiah Lynch is the biggest returning name on a Millionaires squad that hopes to go eight deep. Five of those eight played primarily junior varsity last year, including Jordan and guards Sean Ruane and Darryl Worthy.
During a season where they only lost three games on the lower level, that trio also saw some varsity time. But never were they given the responsibility they will have now.
“I don’t really know what to expect,” Taylor said. “I’m just hoping we can experience some success right out of the gates, executing our offense, coming together defensively. We’ve spent more time on the defensive end than we have on offense, because that’s usually our staple. We use our defense to generate points.”
Taylor expects Lynch to be his team’s priary scorer, with Ruane offering a perimeter threat. Worthy may see some time at the point guard spot, as may new addition Isaiah Twine.
And through it all, he says his team’s high-pressure identity won’t change. For the most part.
“It’s still the same style of play, I might just have to use a little discretion in deciding how long I want to do it,” Taylor said, noting again his dearth of depth. “We do have speed, and we still have quickness. And we’re looking to get it in and we’re looking to go.”
He’ll need some people to step up, though. Like Jordan did on that late winter night in Scranton.
• Central Mountain may struggle this season to duplicate last season’s moderate success.
The Wildcats went 13-12 in 2006-07, before falling to Altoona in the District 6 Class AAAA semifinals. But they return none of their starting five, and just two regular on-court contributors — guards James Gallagher and Zach Wertz.
With no one standing above 6-3, look for CM to go with a four- or five-guard lineup much of the time.
Coach: Allen Taylor (5th season)
Assistants: Ryan Moon, Chris Yoder, DeMarr Wright
Last season: 19-6
Roster: Seniors-Andre Martin, Alphonso Kelly, Erick Scott. Juniors-Akeem Wright, Marc Barnes, Isaiah Twine, Jadiah Lynch, Darryl Worthy, Razzaaq Taylor, Ryan Silberg, Keith Haynes, Sean Ruane, Dontahe Jordan, Thomas James. Sophomores-Travis Kerschner, Joseph Nolan, Codie Engel, Blake Adams, Martin Kieser. Freshmen-Nahshon Braggs.
Coach: Scott Baker
Last season: 13-12
Roster: Seniors: Stephen Hanna, James Gallagher, Richie Tressler, Zach Wert, Jon Weaver. Juniors: Billy Hook, Caleb Blazina, Tony Corl, Seth Barzona, Ian Murray. Sophomores: Luke Welshans, Nick Turchetta, Scott Zuback, Harley Sellinger.
Williamsport coaches Allen Taylor, front, and DeMarr Wright, back, will rely on overall team speed plus post presence from Dontahe Jordan and Thomas James.