Ready Roundup: Boys basketball team brimming with depth

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Senior P.J. Daniels is one of the top returnees for a Ready boys basketball team that features a deep roster. "We have two things going for us in that we have a ton of experience back and we have a ton of depth," coach Tony Bisutti said.

Ready boys basketball coach Tony Bisutti has learned firsthand about some of the potential pitfalls his team could face this season because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Because of contract tracing unrelated to basketball, Bisutti was quarantined for two weeks in November while his team continued to practice.

“I think they’re doing their best,” said Bisutti, who is in his third season. “We’re certainly in the same position a lot of teams are in as far as execution and a lot of little things are not great. It’s going to be a battle of attrition when it comes to those things. We’ve been able to sustain practice pretty much other than me. Part of this is going to be luck of the draw for sure. Different leagues are doing different things right now.”

Ready had its first five regular-season games postponed. It is scheduled to open Dec. 18 with a CCL game at DeSales, which it battled along with St. Charles for the league title last season.

The Cardinals ended up first (7-1) while the Stallions were second (6-2) and Ready was third (5-3), but the Silver Knights had a chance to force a three-way tie on the final night of league play before losing to St. Charles 84-68.

Ready was seeded fourth for the Division III district tournament but lost to seventh-seeded Johnstown 56-47 in a semifinal to finish 16-7 overall.

“We got four (scrimmages) in and only had our last one canceled, so I feel like we got more in than some teams,” Bisutti said. “It’s hard to be satisfied right now. We have two things going for us in that we have a ton of experience back and we have a ton of depth. We have a pretty solid 10-man rotation if everybody is there. If a guy or two drops off, it leaves us with some depth if a guy gets sidelined. That could be as important as anything.”

The top returnee is 6-foot-2 senior guard Darius Parham, who averaged 18 points last season and was first-team all-district and all-league.

Senior P.J. Daniels, a 6-1 forward, averaged 10 points and was second-team all-league.

His brother, 6-1 senior guard Azzan Daniels, averaged six points.

Senior Garrison Budd, a 6-0 guard, averaged nine points and was honorable mention all-district.

Seniors Kyle Gramlich (6-2, post player/forward) and Keenan Johnston (5-10, guard) and sophomore Kaleb Shaffer (6-4, post player) also are key returnees.

Juniors Austin Burgoon (6-3, post player) and Troy Hixson (6-0, guard) were backups who should see more playing time.

Juniors Adam Bennett (5-9, guard) and J’Sun Gardner (5-10, guard) and sophomores Charlie Russell (6-4, wing player) and Luke Ruth (6-1, guard) are others looking to contribute.

The only player lost to graduation was Brock Baker, who averaged 10 points and was third-team all-district and first-team all-league.

“We try to take our goals in time frames, so we’ll try to compete for a league championship and compete for a district championship and go from there,” Bisutti said. “We have a good variety of Division I and II teams on our schedule.”

Junior Claire Larger and the Silver Knights have been working to improve the team's offense after going 8-15 last season.

Girls team looking

to step up on offense

During the first round of last year’s Division III district tournament, the girls basketball team shot just 10-for-40 from the floor and lost to West Jefferson 43-28 to finish 8-15.

The Knights, who lost their leading scorer in 2020 graduate Bre Hejduk but return all but one other player, are hoping they’ve closed the gap at least somewhat offensively.

Juniors Abigail Grundei (5-6, guard), Sierra Schlosser (5-9, post player) and Reagan Wheatley (5-7, guard) will be key players for the third season in a row.

“Schlosser is much improved offensively and must be strong on the boards,” said Joe Lang, who is in his 40th season as coach. “Wheatley is probably the team’s best athlete. She’s a slasher who can get to the rim. Grundei is the team’s best on-the-ball defender. She has to set the tone for the defense. All three will need to pick up their offensive production from last year.”

Ready is scheduled to open Dec. 19 at home against Fairfield Christian.

Juniors Elizabeth Augustino (5-6, forward) and Claire Larger (5-6, guard) and sophomores Ava Baker (5-7, forward), Caleigh Cheatham (5-6, guard), Lyla Hurd (5-6, guard) and Hope Order (5-2, guard) also are returnees. Hurd has been recovering from an offseason injury.

The only senior is Catey Wolfe, a 5-6 guard who did not play last winter after previously being a part of the program.

Rounding out the roster are freshmen Edith Arreola-Contreras (5-2, guard) and Amore Maker (5-9, post player). Maker is coming off an injury but should provide an inside presence.

“The preseason has been a battle,” Lang said. “Hurd and Maker have been slowed by recovery. Grundei and Wheatley were both quarantined after the first week of November after being exposed to COVID. The team was then quarantined for 14 days after becoming contacts after a scrimmage. Things seem to change daily.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

BOYS BASKETBALL

Coach: Tony Bisutti, third season

Top players: Garrison Budd, Austin Burgoon, Azzan Daniels, P.J. Daniels, Kyle Gramlich, Troy Hixson, Keenan Johnston, Darius Parham and Kaleb Shaffer

Key loss: Brock Baker

Last season: 16-7 overall

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

2020 postseason: Defeated Northridge 64-23, lost to Johnstown 56-47 in Division III district semifinal

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Coach: Joe Lang, 40th season

Top players: Elizabeth Agostino, Ava Baker, Abigail Grundei, Claire Larger, Hope Orders, Sierra Schlosser, Reagan Wheatley and Catey Wolfe

Key losses: Danielle Brown and Bre Hejduk

Last season: 8-15 overall

2019-20 CCL standings: Watterson (6-0), Hartley (4-2), DeSales (2-4), Ready (0-6)

2020 postseason: Lost to West Jefferson 43-28 in first round of Division III district tournament