When comparing their current team to last year's Long Island championship team, members of the St. John the Baptist basketball team respond as if they have been programmed to answer the question.

"We are nowhere near as talented as we were last year," swingman Joe Gibbons said, "but our intensity on both ends has picked up."

"We don't have as much skill as last year," point guard Khaleev Ginyard said, "but this year, everybody brings it every day at practice."

"We are not as talented as last year," coach Jim Plate said, "but we work harder than we did last year."

The 5-7 Ginyard and 6-3 Gibbons are interchangeable at the guard position where they have inherited the role of playmakers by penetrating and creating shots for themselves and teammates.

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Ginyard can push the ball with his quickness and pull up for the jumper or find Gibbons for the finish inside. Gibbons can drive the lane or wait for the defense to collapse and set up Ginyard for his lethal three-point shot.

Looming over St. John and the rest of the league is all 6-10 of Chaminade center Kevin Hargrove, who is averaging five blocks and displaying an ever-improving inside game. Chaminade will use its size advantage and athleticism to press and run but can also play a half-court offense with multiple sets through 6-4 shooting guard Tom Morgan.

What St. Mary's lacks in size, it makes up for in speed. With no true center, it will be hard to keep up with the likes of Chavaughn Lewis, Dante Agnew and Chaz Morrish in the Gaels' up-tempo offense.

St. Anthony's starts a formidable backcourt of Rex Gordon and Niko Roberts. Chris Pisciotta and Kellenberg made an unexpected trip to the championship game last year and hope to build on that success. Holy Trinity features a pure scorer in Tyler Seidman. It's a rebuilding year for St. Dominic, which looks to develop freshman guard Kieran Ryan.