The start of the 2019-2020 season is a bit different for the Christian Brothers Academy boys’ basketball as in years past.
Christian Brothers Academy has come off a 20-6 season last winter and its second straight trip to the semifinals of the Shore Conference Tournament.
This year however, CBA doesn’t have those veteran core pieces of Division 1 commit (St. Francis University) Josh Cohen, Stephen Braunstein and Liam Kennedy on the roster leading the way and are looking to build a new core group of players to lead the team.
Sophomore Ryan Mabrey and juniors Mike White and Colin Ferrell are set to be some of those key pieces CBA will lean on this season when the team will seek to live up the usually high expectations at one of the premier programs in the Shore Conference–and in New Jersey, too.
“We’re a new team. We’re a young team,” said CBA coach Geoff Billet. “We have some good pieces. We just have to figure out how we’re going to play with all of them together. We’re a lot different than we’ve been the last six or seven years.”
The first two games of the season have been tough matchups for the Colts and their growing pains have been showing.
CBA faced off against A-North Division foe Marlboro High School to open up the season on Dec. 20 in Lincroft.
Trailing 47-37 early on in the third quarter, CBA bolted back with a 10-0 run, topped off by Mabrey dashing to the basket with a nifty layup to tie the game at 47-47 with 5:04 to play in the quarter.
Mabrey was one of three Colts in double figures on opening night with 14 points.
Unfortunately for the Colts, Marlboro stormed back with a 17-8 surge to end the third quarter and then opened up the fourth quarter with a 10-0 strike that led to them handing CBA a 85-70 season-opening defeat.
Ferrell led the Colts with 16 points in the loss. CBA was 5-of-22 from three-point range
Billet said following the Marlboro loss that the poor shooting shouldn’t take away from the ability CBA has of being a very good offensive team this season.
“We’ll be good offensively with the guys we have that can score,” Billet said. “We just have to shoot better. We do though have to figure things out defensively and clean some things up.”
It didn’t get easier for the Colts in their next matchup against parochial powerhouse Hudson Catholic on Dec. 22.
CBA fell to 0-2 on the season with a 69-33 loss to Hudson Catholic.
Despite its early season struggles, Billet believes CBA can still be a force in the A-North Division and in the Shore Conference with the talent they have.
Junior forward Ryan Cremen has been a nice new addition to the starting lineup for CBA, scoring 15 points in the team’s season opener.
Fellow classmate Dane Moran is another big man in the frontcourt that has shown flashes early on this season. Billet said a key for CBA moving forward will be developing a rotation to get both Cremen and Moran more time on the floor.
Senior Charlie Ruoff and sophomore Pat Lautato are two other pieces that will see time in the rotation for CBA this season.
Coming up with the right rotation to fit guys in the right spots, so they can play well together as a unit is the biggest factor the team will need to figure out as the season goes on said Billet.
The 13th-year coach believes his CBA squad can find its identity and be the team it can be by the end of the season.
“We’ve got talent, we just have to figure out what roles our guys fit into in our rotation,” Billet said. “We can be an explosive offense. It’ll probably take a month, a month and half to be where we want to be.”
CBA’s next two games came against Calvert Hall College High School of Maryland on Dec. 27 and William Floyd High School of New York on Dec. 30.
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