The Allderdice Dragons held the second-best overall record in the City League last year, behind defending champ Perry.
This season, they hope to see things turn out differently after suffering a crushing 61-35 defeat in the City championship last year to the Commodores at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
However, both teams have something in common. They both lost two of the league’s most talented athletes to graduation. The Dragons lost their 6-6 center Will Clarke, who is now a freshman defensive end for the West Virginia Mountaineers. Perry also lost a deep post threat in New Pittsburgh Courier City League Player of the Year, 6-5 forward Vaughn Morgan, who was noted for his great leaping, shot blocking abilities and inside scoring.
“We are a smaller team this year and we’ve made an emphasis on being quicker,” said Perry’s head coach Marco Corona. “We are very excited, confident and comfortable with the threats that we have this year. I think that we can compete with just about anyone (we face).”
Perry will feature one of the better backcourts in the City League this season with junior guards Greg McGhee and Marcus Smith. They will return this season hoping to lead their Commodores back to this year’s title game. However, most of Allderdice’s optimism comes from the fact that they will return four starters from last year’s runner-up team. One of them is 6-4 forward Ishmael Swain who is expected to compliment a solid core of talent this season for the Dragons.
“When we got to the championship, we were in awe of everything around us. We didn’t fight the way we wanted to fight,” said Allderdice’s head coach Andre McDonald. “That loss, and the way we lost, got us concentrating more.”
The Oliver Bears lost two of their key players to graduation in guards Sofion Moore and DeVaughn Copeland, but still have a vital threat in the 6-1 senior guard Evan Schell who can pull up from pretty much anywhere on the court. They finished last season with the third-best mark in the league at 17-9.
Before losing to the champion Commodores in the semi-finals last season, Oliver beat them in a 59-43 home victory in a post-season style atmosphere.
Brashear will also bring back football standout in guard Henri Chatman as they also hope to be a part of the championship hunt in February.
Rounding out the City will be Schenley, Westinghouse, Langley, Carrick and Peabody, which should battle for the second tier. Eight of the nine teams in the City will make the playoffs in the City. Former powerhouse Schenley was just another team last season and once again this season, with much of its talent being split up with the move to Reizenstein, and into other schools, plus some of the talent from the Hill District is going to Milliones school which is being transformed from a middle school to six through 12 next year, it goes to the 11th this year, but has no team.