A new era at Harvey is underway as Eric Monty has taken over the reins of the Red Raiders boys’ basketball program.
Monty inherits four returning starters and two others with varsity experience from a squad that finished 5-18 last winter.
“I feel that the team has the ability to compete this year if we take care of the little things and pay attention to detail,” Monty said. “The goal is to be in the hunt for the (Chagrin Valley Conference title) this year. The boys have been working really hard, especially on the defensive end of the floor, and I firmly believe that we can go as far as our defense will take us.”
The Red Raiders certainly will focus on defense but they’re also very capable of dominating on the other end as well.
“The team this year is fast, and we want to use that, whether it be in transition or on the defensive end,” Monty said. “Forcing turnovers, getting out and running the floor for easy buckets, and making teams uncomfortable when we are on defense will be the key for us. We also have several capable 3-point shooters that will help us put points on the board.”
Among Harvey’s returning players are two all-conference performers from last season.
Armani Hall, a 6-foot sophomore guard, and Deontae Ware, a 6-foot sophomore forward, both earned honorable mention All-CVC honors as freshmen. Hall averaged 12.9 points per game while Ware dropped 7.3 points per contest.
“Armani is a gifted scorer, and we have big expectations that he will make large improvements from last year. His passion for basketball is unmatched and it shows on the court,” Monty said. “Deontae does a really nice job of attacking the basket and being aggressive with the ball in his hands. His athleticism will lead to some exciting plays this season. He works hard on the defensive end to limit his man and he has the potential to be one of our better defenders.”
Harvey’s other returning starters are Mason Haffa and Chase Goines.
Haffa, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, scored 4.4 points per game last year while Goines, a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard, averaged 6.8 points per contest.
“Mason is a three-year letterman and a leader on this team. His experience will be valuable, as he can bring some of the younger guys along and help them develop as players and as people,” Monty said. “Chase is a versatile player on the offensive end of the floor and a solid defender. He will be tasked with guarding the best player on our opponent’s rosters and he is ready for the challenge.”
Rounding out the projected starting lineup is Braylon Johnson, a 6-foot-4 senior forward.
“Braylon gives us length on the perimeter and an offensive skill set that makes him a threat inside and on the perimeter,” Monty said. “He can defend the post and the perimeter and will be an asset on both ends of the floor.”
Harvey’s depth will come from three seniors, one junior, and two sophomores.
The seniors include Brandon Bildstein, a 5-foot-10 forward, Jacob Konya, a 6-foot guard, and Christian Cowlin, a 6-foot-4 forward.
“Brandon gives us some versatility as he is a capable shooter from the perimeter and can also play in the post,” Monty said. “Jacob helps us stretch the floor with his perimeter shooting. Christian is new to the program this year. He provides us some size and depth on the interior.”
Jaidyn Turner is a 6-foot-1 junior guard, Neiman Booker is a 6-foot sophomore guard, and Eryck McClain, is a 6-foot-1 sophomore guard.
“Jaidyn has made some notable improvements since the summer. He gives us depth off the bench and is capable of playing the post of on the perimeter,” Monty said. “Neiman is going to have a major role with the team and is going to play a ton of minutes. His ability to handle the ball and attack the rim will be a factor in our offense. Eryck’s athleticism will be an asset to the team. In the early going of the season, he has shown some growth in his ability to shoot the ball and he will be a helpful piece off the bench.”
Harvey has two seniors in its projected starting lineup and three coming off the bench, but the Red Raiders remain relatively young this season with five sophomores on the roster.
“Youth can be challenging, but many of them played a lot of varsity minutes last year,” Monty said. “While they are young, they are experienced to an extent. Getting some of the younger guys to step up and be leaders will help immensely.”