The Saint Thomas More Preparatory winter sports programs hope to increase upon the success they had a year ago and continue to get better as the season progresses.

Saint Thomas More Preparatory’s three winter sports programs have experienced varied levels of success in recent years.

But with most players back in boys and girls basketball, and numbers up significantly in wrestling, the Ravens teams are looking to make a little more noise this season.

Boys Basketball
2009-10 record: 6-14, 3-9
State tournament: Failed to appear
Graduated seniors: 3
Opening game of 2010: 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, vs. Delmarva Christian High School

The Saint Thomas More boys basketball team, even though it has yet to play a game this season, may already be ahead of the schedule it was on last year.

When training camp kicked off in 2009, the Ravens faced the challenge of getting used to new Head Coach Dean Burrows and what he demanded of them. This year, after losing only three players to graduation, that get-to-know-you process has been bypassed.

Burrows said this year’s crop of returning players came in knowing what to expect, which has helped speed up the process in the preseason.

Saint Thomas More, however, faces some challenges this season—like filling three starting spots that were held by graduated players Will Hayes, Cameron Caudill and Eric Spangler.

“They brought a lot of different things to the table that we need to replace and we’re trying to find that right now with these guys that we have,” he said.

Even though the Ravens finished last year eight games under .500, five of their losses were decided by two points or less. If those games had swung the other way, the team would have been 11-9 and knocking on the door for the tournament.

That fact is something Burrows said he has mentioned to his players more than once this preseason.

“We definitely talk about that and use it as motivation,” he said. “We have to play every possession through. We have to be in condition mentally and physically for however long we need to get the W.”

Girls Basketball
2009-10 record: 13-6, 10-2
State tournament: No. 14 seed, lost to No. 19 Caravel Academy, 48-27, in first round
Graduated seniors: 3
Opening game of 2010: 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, at Delmarva Christian High School

For Mike LaPenta, head coach of the Saint Thomas More girls basketball team, there’s always room for improvement.

And that’s just the approach LaPenta said he’s taking this season for the Ravens, a state tournament team a year ago that has returned several core players.

“One of the things we have to do is be a more consistent scoring team,” he said. “That’s been our problems against the better programs. We don’t have trouble defending but we have to be a better offensive team, and that requires a lot of work.”

Based on seeds, the Ravens were technically upset in last year’s tournament, but LaPenta said he didn’t see it that way.

His team lost to Caravel, one of the state’s more consistently talented programs, so he said the experience of getting to play them was the benefit STM took out of that loss.

“What they carry out is in a tournament game the margin for error is minute,” LaPenta said. “You can’t make mistakes. There needs to be a better sense of urgency when you get into the tournament and have to be ready to perform at your highest level immediately.”

2009-10 record: 5-9, 2-3
State tournament: Failed to appear
Graduated seniors: 0
Opening match of 2010: 8 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 4, at the Polytech Invitational

Success in the sport of wrestling starts with getting enough kids out to fill each weight class, and for the first time in its history the Saint Thomas More team has that aspect almost covered.

Head Coach Eric Brown said the Ravens expect to fill nearly all 14 weight classes, with possible exceptions at 103 pounds and 112 pounds. That fact, Brown said, will get rid of matches that were forfeited a year ago and swing a few more wins to the Ravens.

Brown added that with better numbers this year, though, expectations don’t change for his team.

“My expectation is always the same and that is that they perform at their best and try to reach their highest potential,” he said.

The Ravens are returning two wrestlers this year that placed in the top-six in the state tournament last year, including seniors Josh Meister, 160, and Jesse Hawk, 152.

In addition, they have four more returning guys that placed in the top-six of the Independent Conference tournament.

Brown said with the way things are shaping up, barring any setbacks, he’s optimistic about this season.

“Going into the season it looks pretty promising if the guys don’t get injured,” he said. “Last year we had the weight classes almost filled but had quite a few injuries. This year with the numbers we have, though, it looks pretty promising.”

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