DeSales Roundup: Boys basketball squad has unfinished business

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Junior forward Atticus Schuler is one of the top returnees for DeSales, which captured a Division II district title last winter before the remainder of its season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

With his team admittedly hungry to pick up where it left off last season — when its final game was an overtime win in a Division II district final — DeSales boys basketball coach Pat Murphy said the Stallions still have work to do to get up to speed.

Nonetheless, with first-team all-state selection and Davidson recruit Desmond Watson back to anchor both the team and a promising senior class that includes forward Obed Achirem (6-foot-2) and guard Austin Mann (5-6), Murphy lauded his team’s balance and acknowledged their lofty expectations.

“We’ll get there, but we’re not there,” said Murphy, whose fourth season is scheduled to begin Dec. 18 with a CCL home game against Ready. “Talent-wise and individually, we’re very confident in our roster and our guys, our senior leadership. It all starts with (Watson). He’s one of the best players in the state. We’re going to have him on the floor every night, so that’s huge.

“We definitely have not picked up where we left off last year. We really could have used the summer to get together and compete against other schools. In a lot of ways, this summer was great because we were able to be together and work on ourselves, but you miss those chances to measure yourself against other teams.”

Watson, a 6-5 forward, averaged 22.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.8 steals as a junior to lead DeSales to records of 19-6 overall and 6-2 in the CCL, second behind St. Charles (7-1), and the program’s first Division II district championship since 2016. 

The Stallions defeated Jonathan Alder 32-30 in overtime in a district final, but that was the last game they played before the remaining winter tournaments were canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Mann added 10.6 points per game last year and is looking to help share the offensive load with Watson.

“This year I just need to shoot more, even if it’s a little contested,” Mann said. “I still have to take the shot, then finish at the basket, pump fake (and) be more of a playmaker without Kobe (Righter) this year.”

Achirem returns after missing his junior season because of an injury.

Other key returnees include senior Noah Garrick (5-10, guard) and juniors Cruz Sanchez (6-6, forward/center) and Atticus Schuler (6-5, forward).

Rounding out the roster are senior Tony Swartz (6-0, guard), juniors Jalen Carpenter (6-3, forward), Emmanuel Hood (5-9, guard), Ethan Patterson (6-5, center/forward) and Michael Sabatino (5-10, guard), sophomore Niko Kreuzer (6-2, forward) and freshman Michael Walker (5-9, guard).

“The word is ‘hungry.’ We really want to get past where we were last year,” Watson said. “Poise is the big thing, for myself and the whole team. We just need to keep calm and not let the other team speed us up in big games, just feel out the game and keep things straight the whole way.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave

BOYS BASKETBALL

Coach: Pat Murphy, fourth season

Top players: Obed Achirem, Noah Garrick, Austin Mann, Atticus Schuler and Desmond Watson

Key losses: Chris Fleisher and Kobe Righter

Last season: 19-6 overall

2019-20 CCL standings: St. Charles (7-1), DeSales (6-2), Ready (5-3), Watterson (2-6), Hartley (0-8)

2020 postseason: Defeated Centennial 84-61; def. Heath 63-53; def. Jonathan Alder 32-30 (OT) in Division II district final