SEASON PREVIEW: WEST MIDDLESEX
Leading his alma mater to 15 wins and a District 10 playoff berth in his first season at the helm was an enjoyable experience for Chad Mild, but the West Middlesex High mentor admitted, "the second time around should be a little easier.''
Starting his second season, Mild has a firm foundation upon which to build, including seven regulars who saw considerable playing time a year ago. They will be complemented by a pair of talented newcomers.
Seniors Jeff Van Buren, a 6-foot-2 post, and 6-1 Jay Sweesy, a 2-guard; a quartet of juniors in 5-11 guard Nate Luce, 6-3 post/guard Robbie Long, 6-2 post Brock Webster, and 5-8 guard Aaron Gilliland, as well as 5-8 sophomore guard Jake Buzard will give Mild depth and versatility.
Van Buren bucketed 278 points last season on the strength of 14 double-digit outings, highlighted by a 22-point performance in a 79-40 route of Reynolds, while Sweesy added 154 markers, including 19 in a narrow loss to George Junior Republic. He had a handful of double-figure outings. Luce (88), Buzard (72) and Long (57) also chipped in as role players.
Mild also is excited about two new senior swingmen, 6-0 Marshall Nych and 6-2 Croatian foreign-exchange student Tom Vladova.
"With the two new additions, it gives us a real good shot at winning. Both of those kids can play,'' Mild said.
A year ago, the Big Reds were more of a halfcourt-oriented club, but this season Mild is hoping to a transition game.
"Defensively, we're gonna try to press full court, and offensively we'd like to push the ball a lot more this year. We depended on Tom Freed (who is playing at Westminster College) last year, we'd slow it down and give it to him. But we definitely want to get up and down the floor this year.''
The 1991 West Middlesex alumnus assessed, "the second time around will be easier because the kids know what I expect and know the system.''
Coming off a 15-10 playoff-caliber campaign also will be beneficial, he noted.
"It was definitely a good experience; we got to see what the playoffs are all about,'' he said, reflecting on that setback to Saegertown.
This year, the Big Reds will compete Class A, moving down from AA.
"Kennedy definitely has got the lead, no doubt about it ... and Commodore Perry is going to be decent; they have some returning players,'' Mild emphasized, "but I think we can be competitive. We just want to be competitive and give ourselves a chance to win and make the playoffs.
"I think we have a pretty good chance of making the playoffs,'' Mild continued. "We're looking at it the same way as last year: We want to 'hold court' at home, not lose any of our home games. If we do that, I think we have a shot at making the playoffs. Last year we didn't lose a league home game.''
In fact, the Big Reds were on an early-season roll, winning their first four before losing to perennial power Farrell in a non-league outing. In that regard, Mild has assembled an ambitious preseason schedule.
"Last year we got off to a real good start, but really hadn't played anybody until we met Farrell and Sharon and Kennedy,'' he recalled. "This will let us see -- early -- what we have.''
Mild will be assisted by Chad Nych, junior varsity; former Sharon mentor Fred Livingston, who will serve as a volunteer varsity assistant; and Rick Holzworth, ninth-grade coach. -- By Herald assistant sports editor Ed Farrell
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