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FL boys hoops preview: Jeter, surrounding cast make Carthage a solid team

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CARTHAGE — Walter Jeter arrived at Carthage three years ago as a raw, unpolished talent that boys basketball coach Jeff Ventiquattro hoped would develop into one of the linchpins of a revived Comets’ program.

Now preparing for his senior season with the Comets, Jeter has come full circle. He’s not only become a leader on the court, but one of the vocal off-the-court leaders for a team that has Frontier League and Section 3 Class A titles squarely in their sights.

“Walt is the epitome of the one-sport, dedicated athlete with a great skill set,’’ Ventiquattro said. “He’s a kid that has refined his game through a lot of hard work, and has now become a legitimate college prospect.’’

Jeter, along with junior Peyton McLaurin, gives Carthage one of the dynamic one-two punches in all of Section 3. The senior forward has refined his game to the point where he is comfortable from the perimeter, having made 24 3-point field goals a year ago, or down on the block, where he uses his big frame to carve out space and score in close.

“I’ve tried to become more of an all-around player,’’ said Jeter, who moved into the Carthage district with his family from Missouri. “Coach told me he wanted me to become a little more versatile, and to be a lot more aggressive going to the basket.’’

Jeter averaged 13.4 points and nine rebounds a game last year as Carthage finished 18-2, losing to New Hartford in the sectional semifinals. That was a nice improvement from a sophomore season in which he averaged 9.8 points and 9.9 rebounds for the Comets.

Ventiquattro said what makes Jeter so tough to defend is “his athleticism and his basketball IQ. For a big guy he has really soft hands and a nice shooting touch. He’s also become a very good passer, he sees the floor exceptionally well and handles the ball pretty well.’’

Now, Ventiquattro wants his big man to take the next step in his athletic progression, using his bulk to get more easy points in close to the hoop.

“Sometimes Walt settles for the jumper when he could work harder and get easier points,’’ Ventiquattro said. “Sometimes he’s unselfish to a fault. We need him to take charge a little more and use his skills to make more plays.’’

Jeter, who said he spends hours in the weight room trying to get even stronger, said he knows he needs to become “more physical. To play at the next level, I know that’s where I need to get better. I think we have enough shooters for me to play close to the hoop.’’

Jeter said he spent a good part of his summer working on his shot and ball handling. Ventiquattro likens him to a point forward, or a hybrid of sorts, who can see plays develop from the foul line or at top of the key.

“If he can become a weapon in the paint and attack the basket regularly, that will open up our offense so much more,’’ Ventiquattro said. “We can now use him in a variety of rolls, like a pick and roll or a pick and pop.’’

Jeter also realizes that his leadership role has also changed. Now he’s the veteran, one of the guys the other plays look to for guidance.

“I’m always pushing the guys to work harder in practice, to give a little more,’’ he said. “I’m more comfortable in that position now, so it just comes naturally.’’

Jeter also knows that the expectations for the Comets this year are out of sight. Anything less than a league and/or sectional crown will be a disappointment.

“Our main goal is getting to the Dome (for the sectionals finals),’’ Jeter said. “But we also know we have to take care of business in the Frontier League first, and not try to look too far ahead. The football team (which recently won a Section 3 crown), has set the bar pretty high, so we want to continue this run.’’

Jeter is considering a bunch of state Division III schools for college, such as SUNY Canton, SUNY Potsdam, St. John Fisher and Hamilton. He would like to study accounting or finance.

Here’s a look at the teams in the Frontier League:



“A’’ Division

Outlook: If Carthage doesn’t repeat as division champion and make a serious run at the Section 3 Class A title, it would be a major surprise. The Comets return four starters, including all-stars Walter Jeter and Peyton McLaurin, have much more depth and all the ingredients to make it past the sectional semifinals this time. Indian River is very athletic and returns one of the division’s top players in Shelton Williams. But the Warriors need some contributions from several newcomers if they want to keep pace with Carthage. Immaculate Heart Central is another veteran team, led by seniors Jude Whalen and Jude Fusilli, and could make some noise if Mike Delaney’s club plays more consistently than a year ago. Watertown lost all five starters from a 4-12 club and is in a major rebuilding season with a galore of newcomers.



Carthage Comets

Coach: Jeff Ventiquattro (9th year, 77-77).

2012-13 record: 18-2 overall, 11-1 league.

Players to watch: Walter Jeter (13.4 ppg., 9 rpg.), Peyton McLaurin (16.3 ppg.), Keyon Pinnock (9.4 ppg.), Andrew Smith.

Roster: Andrew Smith (5-10 Sr. G); Keyan Pinnock (6-0 Sr. G); Peyton McLaurin (6-3 Jr. G); Ryan Pete (5-10 Sr. F); Walter Jeter (6-4 Sr. F); Dylan James (6-1 Sr. F); Rob Flint (5-10 Sr. G); Nick Connor (6-5 Sr. C); Tyler Clemons (5-10 Sr. G); Jake Redmore (6-5 Jr. C); JaeQuan McNeal (6-1 Jr. F); Steven Henri (6-0 Sr. F); Alex Smedes (5-10 Jr. G); Jordan Catchings (5-9 Jr. G); Robert Flint (5-10 Sr. G); Ian Bailey (6-4 Jr. F); Gavin Posey (6-4 Jr. F); Dylan Bass (6-1 Jr. F).

IHC Cavaliers

Coach: Mike Delaney

2012-13 record: 5-12, 4-8.

Players to watch: Jude Whalen (14.1 ppg.), Jude Fusilli (11.5 ppg.), Cole Carpenter, Robin Massey.

Roster: Jude Whalen (5-11 Sr.); Jude Fusilli (5-11 Sr.); Robin Massey (6-2 Sr.); Miles Sexton (6-3 Sr.); Cole Carpenter (6-3 Jr.); JP McCluskey (5-11 Jr.); Noah Murrock (6-2 Sr.); Jake Fusilli (6-1 So.); Nick Kramer (5-10 Jr.); Dominic Farone (5-8 Jr.); Bruce Zhang (6-3 Sr.); Chris Huang (5-10 Jr. G).

Indian River Warriors

Coach: Tim Callahan (5th year, 47-29).

2012-13 record: 14-6, 8-4.

Players to watch: Shelton Williams (14.7 ppg.), Danny Angelo, Malik Tillman.

Roster: Danny Angelo (Sr. G); Shelton Williams (Sr. F); Malik Tillman (Jr. F); Marcus Keys (Sr. F); Demetrius Gibson (Jr.); Justin Corley (Jr.); Carlos Gutierrez (Sr.); Jakese Crockett (Sr.); Devin White (Sr.); Elijah Franklin (Jr.); Connor Hadjeadz (Jr.); Benjamin Kwayisi (Jr.); Carlos Patterson (Jr.); Tyler Watson (Jr.).

Watertown Cyclones

Coach: Jeff Britton (12th year, 110-109).

2011-12 record: 4-12, 4-8.

Players to watch: Christian Jorden, Collin Jorden, Malik Evans, Tyrell Thomas.

Roster: Collin Jorden (5-10 Sr. G); Christian Jorden (5-10 Sr. G); Cole Bush (6-4 Sr. C); Malik Evans (6-1 Jr. F); Marvin Henriquez (5-9 Jr. G); Tyler VanCamp (5-11 Sr. F); Noah Taylor (6-2 Jr. F); Tyrell Thomas (5-11 Jr. G); Isiah Dincol (5-7 Jr. G); Eric Coe (6-2 Sr. F); T. J. Brandon (6-2 Sr. F); Rudy Green (6-2 Jr. F); Derrick Lilly (5-10 Sr. F).



“B’’ Division

Outlook: South Jefferson has dominated this division for the past several years. But with all of their graduation losses, including All-North first-teamers Tom Bassett and Jacob Worden and six other seniors, the Spartans will come back to the pack. However, coach Fred Piche still has some good size, led by 6-6 senior Bobby Lees, and is looking for some scoring from his new guards. General Brown lost a bunch of close games a year ago, so that experience might help the Lions get back in contention this season with some veteran talent. While Altmar-Parish-Williamstown left the league, Lowville rejoins the division after a year in the “C’’ Division. They have one of the best players in the league in senior Kyle Malik, who will be out a few more weeks after being hurt during football.



General Brown Lions

Coach: Brian Nortz (20th year).

2012-13 record: 4-14, 4-13.

Players to watch: Rob Pickeral, Cole Johnson, Austin Giruzzi, Matt Haley, Ryan Lamon.

Roster: Ryan Lamon (6-0 Sr. G); Matt Haley (5-10 Sr. G); Rob Pickeral (6-0 Sr. G); Austin Giruzzi (5-10 Sr. G); Kyle Eager (6-0 Sr. F); Dylan Daughen (6-2 Sr. F); Cole Johnson (5-10 Jr. G); Dylan Heath (5-9 Jr. G); Alex Martinez (5-10 Jr. G); Lukas Spencer (6-6 Jr. F); Chris Yarnall (6-3 Jr. F); Eric Makuch (6-5 So. F); Nick Nortz (5-11 So. G); Evan Will (5-8 So. G).

Lowville Red Raiders

Coach: Andy Capone (2nd year, 7-11, 12th overall).

2012-13 record: 7-11, 6-11.

Players to watch: Kyle Malik (18.2 ppg.), Brian O’Connor (9.8 ppg.).

Roster: Kyle Malik (6-0 Sr. G); Dalton Rombough (5-10 Sr. G); Dan Austin (6-2 Sr. G); Brian O’Connor (5-10 So. G); Melvin Zehr (6-1 Sr. F); Greg Iseneker (6-0 Sr. F); Cameron Jackson (5-8 Jr. G); Robert Campany (5-8 Jr. G); Shawn Pridell (6-4 Fr. F); Samuel Green (6-3 So. F); Nate Mooney (5-10 So. G).

South Jefferson Spartans

Coach: Fred Piche (5th year, 58-18).

2012-13 record: 18-2, 16-1.

Players to watch: Bobby Lees, Benner Guertsen, Troy Randall.

Roster: Bobby Lees (6-6 Sr. F); Troy Randall (6-4 Jr. F); Avery Shelmidine (6-0 Sr. F); Benner Geurtsen (6-2 Jr. G); Dylan Beckstead (5-9 Jr. G); Caleb Riordan (5-9 Fr. G); Luke Gaede (5-8 Jr. G); Brandon Dibble (5-9 Jr. G); Dylan Estal (5-11 Jr. G); Alex Sharlow (5-10 Jr. G); Mike Clark (6-3 Jr. F); Jon Worden (6-3 So. F).



“C’’ Division

Outlook: Beaver River’s great 2012-13 season, in which the Beavers went 21-2, captured a Section 3 Class C crown and made a state playoff appearance, is now just a memory. Lynn Petzoldt lost virtually his entire starting lineup, with only Dustin Neddo returning having played meaningful mninutes. So the Beavers start over with a lot of work to do. Thousand Islands also is without its dynamic scoring leader, Quincy Aubertine, who left to attend prep school. So the Vikings, like Beaver River, will be a team in transition. That leaves room for South Lewis and Sandy Creek to make major moves. The Falcons have probably the division’s top player in senior Jason Martin, as well as several other returnees from a team that made the playoffs a year ago. And the Comets have the most experience of any of the four teams. Whether that translates into success is still to be determined.



Beaver River Beavers

Coach: Lynn Petzoldt (5th year, 61-23).

2012-13 record: 21-2, 16-2.

Players to watch: Dustin Neddo, Christian Widrick, Brent Neddo.

Roster: Dustin Neddo (Sr. F); Kaelyn Ferguson (Sr. F); Andrew Purcell (Jr. G); Troy Purcell (So. G); Christian Widrick (Jr. G); Brett Neddo (So. G); Eric Lyndaker (Sr. G); Ethan Lehman (Jr. G); Deon Jones (Jr. G).

Sandy Creek Comets

Coach: Jim Hunt (4th year, 18-36).

2012-13 record:7-11, 7-10.

Players to watch: Tyler Swarthout (12 ppg.), Zach Halsey (14.2 ppg.), Cameron Hall, Reis Harding, Matt Ennist.

Roster: Tyler Swarthout (5-9 Sr. G); Zach Halsey (6-4 Jr. F); Reis Harding (5-10 Jr. G); Cameron Hall (5-10 Jr. G); Matt Ennist (6-1 Jr. F); Josh Meizlik (5-9 Jr. G); Matt Reese (6-1 Jr. F); Shane Rowell (6-2 Sr. G/F); Jefferson DeLeon (6-2 Jr. F); Tyler Doe (5-11 Jr. G/F); Jake Bennett (5-9 Jr. G).

South Lewis Falcons

Coach: Kirk Gerhardt (4th year, 18-35).

2012-13 record: 9-10, 8-9.

Players to watch: Jason Martin (16.7 ppg.), Shawn Loomis, Matt Mooney, Dylan Marolf.

Roster: No roster provided.

Thousand Islands Vikings

Coach: Scott LaLonde (14th year, 140-122).

2013-14 record: 14-6, 13-4.

Players to watch: Teddy Ebbing; Nick Nevala; Eli Baldwin.

Roster: Teddy Ebbing (6-2 Sr. F); Nick Nevala (5-11 Jr. G); Trevor Typhair (6-0 Sr. F); Eli Baldwin (6-1 Jr. F); Joshua Glasenapp (6-0 Sr. F); Mike Hoppe (6-2 Jr. F); Austin Matthews (5-10 Jr. G); Waldo Munoz (5-10 Sr. G); Christian Shaw (5-9 Jr. G).



“D’’ Division

Outlook: Led by All-North first-teamer Troy Wilson, who led the league in scoring a year ago, Lyme finally took the division crown away from Sackets Harbor last season. The Indians still have Wilson, as well as several other key contributors, to make another title run. But the Patriots have eight players back with varsity experience, led by Colton Belcher and Josh Keruski, and should battle Lyme right down to the end. Junior scoring star Antonio Figueroa makes Copenhagen a tough team to beat. The other three teams (Belleville Henderson, LaFargeville, Alexandria) will likely fight it out for the fourth and final playoff spot.



Alexandria Purple Ghosts

Coach: Jared Plantz (5th year, 29-41).

2012-13 record: 5-12, 4-11.

Players to watch: Nik Shangraw (12.2 ppg.), Dylan Delosh, Ryan Tebo.

Roster: Nik Shangraw (Sr. G); Dylan Delosh (Sr. G); Miles Bartlett (Sr. C); Ryan Tebo (So. G); Bryan Erck (Sr. G); Ben Nelson (Jr. F); A. J. Bennett (Jr. F); Austin Bogart (So. F); Trenton Service (So. G).

Belleville Henderson Panthers

Coach: David Green (2nd year, 1-16, 14th overall, 122-135).

2012-13 record: 1-16, 1-14.

Players to watch: Mathieu Corron, Tom Desormeau, Tyler Bast, Colton Ramsdell.

Roster: Tyler Bast (Sr.); Alan Disbro (Sr.); Jamez Voytko (Sr.); Mathieu Corron (Jr.); Thomas Desormeau (Jr.); Colton Ramsdell (Jr.); Nick Neddo (Jr.); Hayden Peterson (Jr.); Jordan Shepard (Jr.).

Copenhagen Golden Knights

Coach: Scott Randall (4th year, 14-37).

2012-13 record: 6-12, 6-9.

Players to watch: Antonio Figueroa (21 ppg.), Greg Kunert, Connor Eddy.

Roster: Greg Kunert (Sr. G); Brandon Moser (Sr. G); Antonio Figueroa (Jr. G); Ian Sawyer (Jr. F); Cory Moser (Jr. G); Breven Jacobs (Jr. G); Hayson Robinson (Jr. F); Ryan Smith (Jr. F); Nate Freeman (Jr. G/F); Connor Eddy (So. G); Theron Lauber (So F).

LaFargeville Red Knights

Coach: Jay Shimel (1st year).

2013-14 record: 2-13, 2-13.

Players to watch: Dan Leek, Matt Valin, Tavis Anderson.

Roster: Gavin Davidson (Sr. F); Josh Baughn (Sr. F); Dan Leek (Jr. G/F); Matt Valin (Jr. F/C); Tavis Anderson (So. G); Cody Pfendler (Sr. G); Josh Countryman (Jr. F/C); Colton Klock (Jr. C); Colton Denny (Jr. G); Hunter Simmons (Jr. G); Gabe Fuller (Jr. F); Thomas O’Driscoll (So. F); Seth Hoover (Fr. G/F).

Lyme Indians

Coach: Leo Wilson (8th year, 76-65).

2012-13 record: 15-5, 11-4.

Players to watch: Troy Wilson (24.5 ppg.), Tim Morrow, Forrest Stafford, Mark Parker.

Roster: Troy Wilson (5-11 Sr.); Timmy Morrow (6-1 Sr.); Forrest Stafford (6-3 Sr.); Christian Sanford (6-0 Sr.); Samuel Liakhovitch (5-11 Sr.); Mark Parker (5-11 Sr.); Caden Sanford (5-10 So.); Patrick Thompson (5-11 So.); Riley Schwind (6-1 Jr.); Andrew Brown (6-0 Jr.); Darius Gamel (5-9 Jr.); Joey Paladino (5-7 Jr.).

Sackets Harbor Patriots

Coach: Jeff Robbins (8th year, 114-43).

2012-13 record: 13-7, 10-5.

Players to watch: Colton Belcher (11.5 ppg., 9.3 rpg.); Ryan Allen; Josh Keruski (13 ppg.); Kyle Gonseth.

Roster: Colton Belcher (6-2 Jr. F); Josh Keruski (5-8 Sr. G); Ryan Allen (5-11 Jr. G); Vinny Augliano (5-8 Sr. G); Matt Stackel (5-11 Jr. F); Kyle Gonseth (5-7 So. G); Eric Chrostowski (5-11 Jr. G); Seth Phillips (5-10 Sr. G); Thomas Burch (6-4 Jr. F/C); Todd Thompson (6-1 So. F/C).

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