The story lines are familiar. In Class AA, Half Hollow Hills West has the horses -- OK, Colts -- to again win the Suffolk and Long Island titles and return to Glens Falls for a third straight year. In Class A, another Agostino vs. Agostino coaching showdown appears likely for the Suffolk title between Chris (Harborfields) and Jack (Amityville).
Half Hollow Hills West, the favorite in League IV, has plenty of depth to apply pressure defense and features a bona fide star in senior forward Emile Blackman, who added a three-point shot to his arsenal. Blackman (16.1 ppg last season) is joined by Hempstead transfer Mical Boyd, a strong defensive point guard and the last of the Harris brothers, Terry, a scoring threat at small forward. But make no mistake. This is Blackman's team. "I want to get upstate and win it this time," Blackman said. "The third time feels like it could be the charm for us."
Stiff competition for League IV and Class AA supremacy will come from Deer Park, which has a deep, experienced team. Sean Scott is a slick swing man. Kyle Bradford averaged 18 ppg and nailed 43 treys last season. Rome Jenkins is an inside force along with Keith Williams. "Those two league games will be something special," one coach said.
In League I, Floyd has high hopes because of returning Newsday All-Long Island first-time player Anthony White (18.9 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 5.2 apg), who made a verbal commitment to Division I St. Francis (Brooklyn). "He's a guard now. He leads the break," Floyd coach Bob Hodgson said. "He's pretty exciting to watch." White will get help from guard Devin Burney, an improved shooter. Brentwood will contend led by scorer Eric Perdomo and rebounder Femi Olujobi. Commack features sharp-shooting Nick Arnold, who already has exceeded 20 points three times this season.
In League II, Bay Shore returns all five starters from last year's playoff team, led by guards Bryson Lassiter (13.6 ppg) and Devin Farmer. Central Islip lost a lot, but swing man Tim McKenzie is solid. Lindenhurst is dangerous with slashing Stew Warren (22.7 ppg) and outside threat Brandon Hauser.
In League III, East Islip is a clear favorite, led by second-team All-Long Island center Evan Maxwell (21.5 ppg), a double-double machine at 6-8 and one of Long Island's premier big men. Five-year varsity player Brian Johnson (12.3 ppg) is a legitimate deep threat and leader. Smithtown East will challenge led by center Jon Feiler who averaged 27.6 ppg through the Bulls' first five games and set a school record with 25 rebounds on Dec. 13.
League V is the domain of defending Long Island A champ Harborfields, which returns two starters from the team that beat Amityville in the county final -- point guard Lucas Woodhouse (a Long Island-best 11 assists per game), and long-range threat Justin Ringen (16.4 ppg). The Tornadoes also got a big boost when high-scoring John Patron, a superb offensive rebounder, transferred in from Huntington. Eastport-South Manor, a potential playoff team, is off to a fast start, with Dalton McCarthy leading the Sharks to four straight non-league victories. Kings Park won its first three, with Craig Jeudy scoring 23 points with 22 rebounds in one of those games. Rocky Point features high-scoring Andreas Vouliakis.
League VI should be ruled, once again, by Amityville, which has a veteran team that thrives on fastbreak offense and pressure defense. Richie Hobson is the top scorer, point guard Mike Alston anchors the defense and DeJuhan Gray is tough in the low blocks. Mount Sinai hopes for a playoff spot behind Greg Kopcienski (three 20-plus games already).
Wyandanch, with flashy guard D'dante Freeman (16.5 ppg last year and a 35-point game against Amityville last week) and potent inside scorer Alexander Williams (15 ppg, 14 rpg) is the front-runner for class and League VII honors. The Warriors are quick and like to run and press. Center Moriches features high-scoring Maleek Harris (17 ppg) and will challenge for the league crown. Mattituck, which stunned Malverne in last March's LIC on a buzzer-beating tip-in, graduated all five starters. Eugene Allen is the best of the newcomers. Southampton, led by Shaundell Fishburne, is a good shooting team that won its first four.
Defending Class C county champion Port Jefferson has only one starter back, versatile guard Anthony Lanieri. The Royals move up one notch to League VII. Southold of League VIII returns the leading three-point shooter on Long Island, Winston Wilcenski, who sank 65 from behind the arc and already has a pair of 25-point outings this year.
Ross appears to be the best of the bunch, led by Hayden Aldredge, who had 21 rebounds in a victory over Greenport, which is rebuilding.