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Basketball Preview: More-experienced St. Francis hopes to have right mix

EXPERIENCE COMING BACK — Trey Holness (left) returns after playing in every game last season, and with his size and experience, should be a force for St. Francis. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
Brian Ferris described it as kind of a funny upcoming season, in regards to expectations, in the Monsignor Martin for boys basketball.

It may be true that his St. Francis team brings back the most experience from last season, but there are still younger yet talented Canisius, St. Joe’s and Timon squads that will probably be the more highly touted of the four among the league’s large schools to start the year. All three were league semifinalists last season, with Canisius earning the title.

“I may be the team bringing the most guys back, but Canisius could be even better despite losing five seniors, Timon lost a lot but still brings back [senior guard Donte] Williams and St. Joe’s suffered some key loses, too, but they’ve all got some young guys coming up,” said Ferris, in his second season running a program that hasn’t won the Manhattan Cup since 1978. “There’s never a night off in this league. You play the best. But that’s a good thing.”

Ferris likes the competition, because he wants his team to get better, coming off an 8-18 season, in which the Red Raiders fell in the league quarterfinals.

And he believes they will be, with seniors Treyvon Holness and David Kennedy returning in the front court and versatile classmate Maurice Burse coming back at small forward. They’ll be complimented, Ferris said, by the addition of junior Kordell Holness to the back court.

Treyvon Holness of Montreal, Canada started every game last season and should be even more of a force this year with his 6-foot-7 frame and 7-foot wingspan. He averaged 8 rebounds and 3 blocks per game last season, while improving his offense in the offseason, Ferris noted.

Kennedy, who’s been with the varsity since his sophomore season, can play inside or outside and is last year’s top returning scorer. Burse was limited by injuries in 2012-13 but displayed his soft touch around the rim and relentless play when healthy, Ferris said.

St. Francis still has to replace 36 points per game with the graduation of guards Cory Cullen and Brennan Macy., which makes Kordell Holness, Treyvon’s cousin, the team’s wild card as he is set to run the point. Ferris believes the 6-foot-1 playmaker is “the real deal.”

“He’s smooth — he knows basketball and can shoot, handle the ball and is long,” Ferris said of Kordell. “With the guys coming back, Kordell really helps solidify us.”

St. Francis also has back 6-foot-5 center Austin Taylor and guard Chris Shriver, both seniors. Four sophomores will be making their varsity debuts this year. They include guards Kiernan Barnes, Taurean Davis and John Steven Zhu and forward Joe Carbone.

Zhu averaged nearly 20 points with the junior varsity last season, while Carbone, who, like Barnes, comes over from the Ontario, Canada region, adds size at 6-4.

Ferris also foresees plenty of competition at all spots on the court, which will be helpful as the team attempts to run an up-tempo pace and press and trap.

“We’re at least nine deep and that will help us play our speed game,” noted Ferris, who also envisions Nichols and Niagara Catholic being solid teams, as well as league newcomer Park. “This team has the right mix of experience, talent athleticism, and most importantly, competition, to improve on last year and make a run at the Manhattan Cup.”
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