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Decatur could be strong defensive team, coach says

(Dec. 5, 2014) Stephen Decatur boys’ basketball Coach Byron “BJ” Johnson describes this year’s team as young and inexperienced with just one returning player from the 2013-14 squad.

Johnson, now in his second year at the helm, said the Seahawks could be a strong defensive team.

“I think because we have athletic players, we have a chance to be a really good defensive team. Our offense is pretty detailed and it will take time for a young team to learn our system,” he said. “Defense is heart and wanting to compete and I think for that reason we can be pretty good on defense. I think by February, March we will start to gel on the offensive end of the floor.”

Johnson said the group is making progress with each practice.

Junior guard/forward Keyon Eley, a team captain, is the only returning player from last season when the Seahawks, after a 4-4 start, finished 18-6. The team competed in the Bayside Conference title game for the first time in program history. Decatur lost 64-61 in overtime to Easton. The Seahawks’ season came to an end with a 66-51 loss to Westlake in the MPSSAA 3A South Regional tournament championship.

“We lost a lot of players, but we’re developing well,” said Eley, a two-year varsity player. “We work hard at practice, we all get along well, we’re friends and we help each other at practice.”

Joining Eley are sophomores Will Sass (guard/forward), forwards Keve Aluma, Matthew Kristick and Tyree Henry; junior forwards De’Quan Andrews and Ernest Shockley, Ryan Beach (guard/forward) and Tymeire Conway (guard); and seniors Jalen Mumford (guard), Aaron Dale (forward) and Karon Purnell (guard).

“We’re making a lot of progress. We’re all getting to know each other and how each other plays,” said Sass, a transfer from St. Thomas More. This is his first season playing for Decatur. He will share captain duties with Eley.

Sophomore Kevin Land will be the team’s point guard.

“Kevin Land is the most experienced point guard in the program. He was the starting point guard on the JV last year,” Johnson, the 2013-14 Bayside Coach of the Year, said. “I’ve always believed the point guard is an extension of the coach. He, more than anyone, has to be on the same page with the coach, because the point guard is the position that starts your offense. Kevin is the only point guard right now [but] we are developing others to play the position.”

Johnson said the goal this season is for his 13 players to improve with each game they play.

Stephen Decatur junior captain Keyon Eley puts the ball in the basket during Monday’s scrimmage against Colonel Richardson in Berlin.

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