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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Canaan Cagers Champing at the Bit to Get Going

  • Canaan Christian Academy's boys basketball team is preparing for the 2012-14 season.
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  • On the heels of yet another stellar season, Canaan Christian's boys varsity basketball team is likely facing a re-building year in 2013-'14.
    The Eagles soared to a 21-6 overall record last year, finishing second in the NY-Penn League standings and third at the annual play-off tournament.
    Coach John Ashley's lads also battled their way to runner-up finishes at both the KCEA state tourney and the NPCA Invitational.
    "We had a super season," he said. "They were a great bunch of kids to work with. If we had gotten a couple breaks at the end of the year ... well, who knows!"
    The Eagles came within a whisker of that Class AAA state crown, losing the title tilt on a buzzer-beater.
    Coach Ashley's squad then battled perennial powerhouse Central Christian (Dover, DE) right down to the wire in the NPCA championship game before finally falling.
    Leadership
    As the 2013-14 campaign dawns, Canaan is hoping to build a solid foundation for the future.
    There are only nine "varsity-only" players on the roster, but the always-affable mentor enters the season on an
    "We are very young this year," said Coach Ashley. "I think we'll be competitive, but a lack of size and depth might hurt us a little bit.
    "I can tell you this, though: We'll work hard and have a lot of fun."
    Canaan will look to its three seniors for leadership this winter both on and off the court.
    Spencer Beals, Brogan Scotch and Aaron Swingle are all expected to play key roles from opening tip to final buzzer.
    These three battle-tested veterans will comprise the Eagles' frontcourt. Beals is slated to play the small forward, with Scotch at the power forward slot and Swingle at center.
    Page 2 of 3 - "Aaron is a hard worker and a good-hearted kid," said Coach Ashley. "I know he'll give us everything he has every time he steps out there on the court."
    Blakely Hoffman is the team's lone junior and will run Canaan's offense from the point.
    Hoffman has big shoes to fill, inheriting the position from two of the Eagles' all-time best in Nick Schweinsburg and Joe Chupick.
    Blakely appears to be fully healed from a broken arm that ended what began as a promising sophomore season. He's pumped up and champing at the bit to make up for lost time.
    "I'm hoping for really good things from Blakely this season," said Coach Ashley. "He's a driven kid and a very vocal leader."
    Coming Up
    Two sophomores who should see plenty of varsity minutes in Johnny May and Nick LaRosa.
    A standout multi-sport athlete who just completed an excellent soccer season, LaRosa will be counted upon to provide scoring punch for the Eagles at the two-guard spot.
    "Nick is definitely a shooter and he'll have to be one of our big scorers if we want to be competitive," Coach Ashley said.
    Three underclassmen will likely be playing at both the varsity and JV levels. Dylan Grimm (Fr), Mike Vitelli (Fr) and Isaac Caldwell (8th grade) are all talented youngsters with undeniable potential.
    Bracketology
    Coach Ashley is entering his 14th year at the helm of the boys basketball team.
    Page 3 of 3 - Under his direction, the Eagles finished 8-2 in the NY-Penn League, good for second in the division.
    This year, Coach Ashley expects his young squad to post at least a .500 record and possibly make some noise at the annual year-end tournament.
    "If we stay healthy and things develop the way I think they should, we'll be okay," he said. "We're not overly big and we aren't exactly fast, but we'll be in every game."
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