Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 51
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
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POST POSITION: Princeton High boys’ basketball senior center A.J. Dowers establishes position in the post during a recent preseason scrimmage. The 6’8 Dowers should be formidable in the paint this season as PHS looks to improve on the 12-11 mark it posted last winter. The Little Tigers start their 2008-09 season on December 19 when they host Lawrence High.

Boasting a Crew of Battle-Tested Veterans, PHS Boys’ Hoops Primed for Big Season

Bill Alden

Last winter, the Princeton High boys’ basketball team produced one of the feel-good stories in local hoops circles.

Rebounding from a 7-15 campaign in 2006-07, the Little Tigers went 12-11 last season and made the state playoffs for the first time since 2001.

While PHS didn’t have a long stay in the state tourney, losing to Monmouth in the first round, the Little Tiger players vowed to use the experience as a springboard to bigger and better things.

With the 2008-09 campaign about to get underway, the PHS players appear to have lived up to those promises.

“There is a good vibe around the team, the guys have confidence, maturity, and experience,” said second-year PHS head coach Jason Carter, whose team opens its season by hosting Lawrence High on December 19.

“The guys are hungry; they are working hard. They know what’s on the line and they want to be part of something special.”

PHS may have something very special in the low post in 6’8 senior center A.J. Dowers.

“He has been looking great; he has gotten a lot stronger and his footwork has gotten better,” said Carter of Dowers, who averaged 12.4 rebounds and 6.1 blocked shots a game last season.

“He is more mature; he went to four or five camps last summer. He is being heavily recruited by Division III coaches and that is giving him a lot of confidence. For him to play at next level, he knows he has to dominate in high school.”

Another Little Tiger who has the potential to dominate a game is junior forward Skye Ettin, who averaged 10.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in 2007-08 and brings some extra toughness after a fine debut season this past fall for the PHS football team.

“Skye is coming off a great football season; he was a first team All-CVC as defensive back and he led the county in interceptions,” said Carter of the slashing 6’4, 165-pound forward.

“It took a lot of courage for him to play football. I can’t say enough about his enthusiasm and work ethic. He will do anything we ask of him; he can play all five positions. He is versatile, coachable, and passionate.”

Carter believes he has some versatility in his two main frontcourt reserves, juniors Thatcher Foster and Jordan Metro.

“Thatcher Foster is looking extremely good; he’s probably our most improved player and that’s saying a lot because we have a lot of improved players,” said Carter.

“He needs to get a little stronger but he is so savvy on the court; he can handle the ball and rebound. Jordan is like Thatcher; he is a little bit stronger and tougher but not as savvy. He will help us out inside.”

High-scoring PHS senior guard DeQuan Holman will be tough for PHS’ foes to stop.

“DeQuan had an awesome summer; he played in the Ewing summer league and did well against some of the top teams like Pennsbury, and Ewing,” said Carter of the 6’1, 180-pound Holman who led the little tigers in scoring last year with an average of 15.3 points a game.

“He also helped us in Princeton men’s summer league. Some days the games would overlap and he played hard. He has put a lot of work in, he is very dedicated. He is distributing the ball more. A lot of times last year, he would try to do it on his own. He is mature, strong, and in terrific shape. He proved last year that he can hit the big shots. He wants the ball in tight situations and his teammates are confident that he can hit those shots.”

Carter also has a lot of confidence in senior point guard Brian Dunlap, who is coming off a breakthrough season which saw him average 10.9 points and 3.4 assists a game.

“He has gotten stronger,” said Carter of the 6’0, 155-pound Dunlap. “His shot is awesome; he is hitting from five feet behind the 3-point line. He is so smart with the ball. He knows what the team needs; he knows what I want. He is a vocal leader for us; he is a coach on the court.”

Another leader for PHS is junior guard Josh Gordon, who can come off the bench and change the momentum of a game.

“Josh had a great football season; he made a lot of big plays,” said Carter of the 5’7, 170-pound Gordon, who rushed for 991 yards this fall and is also a star sprinter for the PHS track team.

“He’s strong, tough, quick, and fast. He is a good complement for either Brian or DeQuan. We will also look to have the three of them on the court at the same time.”

PHS has some other guards who should be a nice complement in junior Devon Holman and senior Chris Bechler.

“Devon Holman has stepped up,” said Carter. “Chris Bechler is extremely tough; he has filled out. He is an endurance guy from soccer. He is always first in sprints; he has great attitude.”

Carter likes the attitude his team is displaying collectively. “We are filled with character guys all through the roster,” said Carter. “Each guy brings something different.”

In Carter’s view, if his players maintain that character, they should write another feel-good story this winter.

“There are going to be wins and losses as the season goes,” said Carter. “We can’t get too high and let our heads balloon when we do well and can’t get too low and hang our heads when we lose. We have to continue to push ourselves and stick together.”

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