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NEO Division 4 Preview

By T.J. Peatross, 12/01/16, 2:00AM EST

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As we wrap up our preseason coverage, we take a closer look at what to expect from Division 4, perhaps the most open and competitive of the bunch. Last year, it was Cornerstone Christian who left Columbus with the hardware but the journey will look quite different for the Patriots as they set out to defend their title.   

Preseason 1st Team

Maurico Tate (Lutheran East) 6'1 Sr., G - Tate, a former standout at Westlake, joined Lutheran East following the summer and the 6'1 guard adds scoring ability and the athleticism to defend on the other end. 

Jaret Majestic (Malvern) 6'2 Sr., G - Having already scored 1,200 points before his senior season, Majestic returns as one of the area's top guards and scorers from a year ago. 

Mike Bothwell (Cornerstone Christian) 6'3 Jr., G - The Division 4 Player of the Year last season, Bothwell's postseason performance was more than impressive. Then a sophomore, he scored a total of 101 points in the three games leading up to the state semi-finals.

Mark Mayle (Malvern) 6'8 Jr., F/C - Mayle burst onto the scene as a sophomore, averaging 13.9ppg and 10.9rpg. Kent State, Toledo, and Duquesne are among the Division One programs to extend offers.

E.J. Onu (Richmond Heights) 6'9 Sr., C - At 6'9, Onu's size and length are unmatched at the Division 4 level and his athleticism and shot blocking ability anchors the young Spartans defense. 

Preseason 2nd Team

Brandon McQueen (Cornerstone Christian) 6'1 Sr., G - After playing the role of sixth man last season, McQueen finds himself as the second option this year for the Patriots.

Jordan Burge (Lutheran East) 6'2 Jr., G - Burge enters his junior year and first with Lutheran East. The strong, lefty guard adds scoring and toughness to the Falcons as they gear up for a tough schedule. 

Mitch Clark (Dalton) 6'5 Sr., F - Clark is a slashing wing with the size and athleticism to impact the game on both ends, he nearly averaged a double-double last season. 

Jarad Dunn (Mogadore) 6'3 Sr., F - Dunn is the lone starter to return for Mogadore after last season's late run. Dunn has scored nearly 1,000 points in his career.

Antonio McQueen (Warren JFK) 6'6 Sr., F - One of the top forwards in the North Coast League, McQueen's explosive leaping ability makes him a big-time threat around the basket.

Honorable Mention

Justin Motley (Lutheran East, 6'7 Sr., C)Justin Boffenkamp (Warren JFK, 6'1 Sr., G), Keandre Graves (Lutheran East, Jr. G/F), Braedon Poole (McDonald 6'3  Jr., G/F), Martell Ferrell (Cornerstone Christian 6'5 Jr., F)


Top 5

1. Cornerstone Christian
  • Last Year's Result: State Champions (17-12)
  • Returning Starters: Mike Bothwell (6'3 Jr., G), Tre Williams (6'1 Sr., G)
  • In the Mix: Brandon McQueen (6'1 Sr., G), Martell Ferrell (6'5 Jr., F), Jeremy Owens (6'1 Jr., F), Titus Wheeler (6'0 Jr., G), Kyle Hudson (5'9 So., G), Elijah Cutting (5'7 So., G), Ronny Bakos (6'0 So., G), Adam Lambert (6'1 Jr., G), Osato Iduwe (6'8 So., C)

Despite finishing the regular season with a below .500 record, the Patriots won when it mattered the most. Junior Mike Bothwell led the way and helped earn the school's first state championship, and Coach Dan Selle returns the majority of his core from their ring season. Euclid transfer Martell Ferrell, who was with the team as a freshman,  will reunite with his former teammates after sitting out the first 11 games. Ferrell is a long, wiry forward who adds versatility and athleticism in the frontcourt. Brandon McQueen is embracing his new role in the starting lineup and is looking to piggyback off of his stellar play in the state tournament.

2. Lutheran East
  • Last Year's Result: Regional Semi-Finalist (20-6)
  • Returning Starters: Keandre Graves (6'3 Jr., G), Tyler Powell (6'0 Sr., G)
  • In the Mix: Maurico Tate (6'1 Sr., G), Jordan Burge (6'2 Jr., G), Justin Motley (6'7 Sr., C), Travis Sanders (6'2 Jr., G), Carlos Taylor (6'4 Sr., C), Timothy Blevins (5'9 Fr., G), Kaylin Heard (6'2 So., G)

I'm sure Coach Anthony Jones and his staff have December 16th starred on their calendars as they are itching to face a familiar foe in rival Cornerstone Christian. The two split last season with Lutheran East losing the latter of the two matchups. Julian Hicks and Alex Heath, two starters from a year ago, opted to transfer this summer but the team welcomes in Maurico Tate, Jordan Burge, and Justin Motley, and all three will be eligible to play right away according to Jones. Keandre Graves returns from last year's starting unit a year ago and is looking forward to playing with his new teammates.

3. Malvern
  • Last Year's Result: Regional Semi-Finalist (19-8)
  • Returning Starters: Jaret Majestic (6'2 Sr., G), Mark Mayle (6'8 Jr., F), Drew Hutchison (5'10 Jr., G)
  • In the Mix: Jack Naiman (5'11 Sr., G ), Jordan Browning (6'2 Sr., G/F), Jake Moser (6'0 Jr., G), Brandon Peterson (5'10 Jr., G), Christian Grimm (5'11 Jr., G)

Last season, Malvern saw their season cut short by the hands of Cornerstone in a competitive regional matchup. Coach Dennis Tucci brings back three starters from that group, including one of the top one-two punches in the area with Jaret Majestic and Mark Mayle. It was Majestic's 38-point outburst that helped put the Hornets into the top 16.  The Hornets have about as much of a chance to win it all as any team in the division.

4. Richmond Heights
  • Last Year's Result: District Semi-Finalist (8-15)
  • Returning Starters: Curtis Houston (6'1 So., G), E.J. Onu (6'9 Sr., C)

Richmond Heights only returns two players from last year's team who was derailed by Mogadore in the Barberton District semi-finals, the majority of the team is comprised of players who were on the JV team a year ago. Despite being an eight seed in the district, the Spartans picked up notable wins over #3 Dalton and #6 Lake Center Christian. Senior E.J. Onu is among the state's best in blocked shots, but he will be counted on to increase his scoring output from last season.

5. Warren JFK
  • Last Year's Result: District Semi-Finalist (9-15)
  • Returning Starters: Justin Boffenkamp (6'1 Sr., G), Nate Woods (6'4 Sr., G/F), Antonio McQueen (6'6 Sr., F), Terrance King (Jr., G), Hyland Burton (6'3 Jr., G)
  • In the Mix: Byron Taylor (Jr., G), Alec Burzynski (Jr., G), B.J. Williams (Jr., G), Aaron Williamson (Sr., F), Evan Boyd (Sr., G), Jared Misocky (Sr., G) 

The Eagles have all of the pieces in play to compete as one of the area's top Division 4 programs. The backcourt tandem of Justin Boffenkamp and Terrance King give the team some firepower on the offensive end while  McQueen cleans up the inside. First year coach Marc Komlanc looks to add some toughness and consistency to a team that made the regional tournament in 2015. 

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