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Veteran Butler team should win SW4A

Butler

Coach: Kurt Wessler.

2009-2010 record: 15-13.

Key player: Marcus Burton.

After struggling early last year, Butler came on strong toward the end of the season, winning the SW4A tournament on a 40-foot shot by Marcus Burton.

Now the Bulldogs seem the favorite to win the SW4A title.

It starts with the backcourt in Burton (Wagner) and Stitt (College of Charleston).

How well the Butler frontcourt does has a lot to do with how far the football team goes as players like forward Kris Frost will be key once they trade in their pads for their high-tops.

Myers Park

Coach: Rick Lewis.

2009-2010 record: 16-10.

Key player: Thomas Brafford.

After a slow start, the Mustangs were one of the hottest teams in the state in the 4A playoffs, beating Sun Valley and Hopewell before losing (60-58) to eventual state champion Lake Norman.

While the Mustangs lost a lot of talent, they have a promising young team, with senior point guard Thomas Brafford running the offense. Brafford will try to get the ball to shooter Patrick Wallace, who has already got interest from schools like Richmond.

East Mecklenburg

Coach: Jason Grube.

2009-2010 record: 13-14.

Key player: Miles Leathers.

The Eagles were hit hard by graduation and redistricting, losing 92 percent of their scoring and 83 percent of their rebounding from a year ago.

Junior Miles Leathers will be the point guard to start and should be one of the Eagles' top scoring options.

In the frontcourt, East will also rely on inexperienced players with a lot of potential, like sophomore Jerrin Morrison (also East Meck's quarterback) and junior Jaye Hunt.

Ardrey Kell

Coach: Mike Craft.

2009-2010 record: 20-9.

Key player: Drew Alexander.

The Knights have won at least 20 games the last two seasons. This year, they will have to win without stars Justin Cheek and Cameron McQueen.

Ardrey Kell turns to point guard T.J. Cox and forward Drew Alexander for more production while they will also expect football stars Justus Pickett and Drew Owens to contribute in key roles.

Providence

Coach: Myron Lowery.

2009-2010 record: 18-10.

Key player: Howie Davenport.

The Panthers won the Southwestern 4A regular season title last year, but the Panthers must start over as all five starters are gone.

The Panthers will rely on two post men who played last year in 6-foot-7 Howie Davenport and Robby Van Lanen. Freshman point guard Giavonni Mack guard provides them with a bright future.

Independence

Coach: Preston Davis.

2009-2010 record: 4-19.

Key player: Ivan Blair.

Independence was competitive last season but struggled to win once the SW4A got started. This year will be an uphill battle again, and Davis will lean heavily on guard Ivan Blair, a 6-foot-4 wing/forward, who is already receiving a lot of recruiting attention.

South Mecklenburg

Coach: John Fitch.

2009-2010 record: 3-15.

Key Player: Josh Moore.

The Sabres struggled mightily last year winning just three games. But South Meck could be one of the most improved teams with a mix of experience and talent in a younger SW4A this year. Senior Josh Moore will be the go-to-guy early on as he nearly averaged a double-double last season, but he will have a lot more help with point guard Carrington Kirkpatrick back after being ruled ineligible just before last season. Junior center Demetrius Dove (6-foot-6), Rob Harrell and David Moore will also be solid contributors in John Fitch's 2nd year as the head coach.

Rocky River

Coach: Brandon Blalock.

2009-2010 record: First year.

Key player: Matt Ward.

Coach Brandon Blalock, who was an assistant at Butler, will depend on former Independence guard Dequann Simpson to run the offense while he looks to former East Meck forward Matt Ward for scoring.

Charlotte Catholic

Coach: Mike King.

2009-2010 record: 12-12.

Key player: Alex Kilmartin.

After being one of the best teams in their conference earlier this decade, Catholic has hovered around the .500 mark for several years.

With all-conference guard John Hatton gone, a younger Cougar team will likely be about the same this year in a tough ME-GA 7 conference.

Center Alex Kilmartin (6-foot-6) will be the go-to-guy, averaging 10 points per game as a junior. Junior Jack Brodowicz is a solid point guard while Jack Quigley should be a tough wing player.

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