Octorara's boys' basketball team was hit hard by graduation, with eight Braves' players moving on. Gone are Lewis Nixon, Jon Evans, Kyle Kasabo, Khori Johnson, John Scott, Graham Shackford and Terrance Perry.
In this, the final season of play in the SCCL before the merger with the Ches-Mont next season, the Braves will be looking to improve on last season's 11-14 mark. This year's campaign features a new format for the playoffs that will see not only the division champs reach the playoffs, but the teams with the next two best records as well.
"This year there is a playoff system in the league, and we would like to have one of the best four records so we can make the playoffs," said Coach Gene Lambert. "I like the team. We have a good group that likes each other and is willing to play together."
Leading the way for the Braves are its three returning players with varsity experience-senior point guard Maurice Stewart, junior forward Nigel Davis, and junior forward Kris Nixon.
"Davis and Nixon both saw quite a bit of time on varsity for us last season," said Lambert.
Rounding out the varsity roster at press time are Brain Conrad (Jr., guard), Tanner Cornell (Jr. forward), and Zach Kasabo (Jr., forward).
Octorara has laid out a challenging league schedule that includes key early season match-ups at West Chester East (Dec 8), at Warwick High School (Jan.13), and at Upper Merion (Dec.13).
"They are good tests for us," said Lambert.
The Southern Chester County League has had one champion in the past three years-Oxford. The Hornets will likely be in the discussion of the league's top teams again this season, but are not the slam-dunk easy pick that they've been the last few seasons. The SCCL will be as wide open as it's been in years, with Great Valley and Delco Christian asserting themselves and giving a go at wresting the title from Oxford.
"Great Valley has a lot of size, Oxford is the three time champ and defending champ, Delco Christian is a solid team in our division," said Lambert. "But if we play together, I see no reason why we can't be one of the four teams in the playoff mix. I think our strength is defensive -- we have very athletic players that can defend and we will be able to put pressure on teams."
Octorara's season gets underway this weekend with the Hamburg Tournament, followed by games at Pottsgrove (Dec. 5) and at West Chester East before finally taking the court for a home game on Dec. 11 against division rival Delco.