After posting 17 victories and advancing to the Great Northeast Athletic Conference semifinals last season, enthusiasm is running high for the Mount Ida men’s basketball program heading into the 2017-18 campaign, as first year Head Coach Brian Cerone welcomes back 11 letterwinners and four starters into the fold for what should undoubtedly be a fun winter ahead.
Cerone, who served as Mount Ida’s assistant coach before being promoted in mid-October, knows the value of hard work and leadership after enjoying playing collegiately at Wheaton, and he will look to seniors Jayson Clark (Austin, Tex./Del Valle) and Kevin Conner (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) to instill those values as the Mustangs’ co-captains this season. The duo is described by Cerone as “passionate and driven about not only the game, but about their teammates. They will make everyone work hard to get better every day on and off the court, and they will represent our program and the Mount Ida community proudly.”
Here’s a look at how things are shaping up for the 2017-18 edition of Mount Ida men’s basketball:
GUARD. Cerone lost leading scorer and first-team all-GNAC honoree Ethan Dujon to graduation, but he returns a plethora of experienced performers in the backcourt. Senior Joey DeFillippi (Bristol, Conn./Bristol Central) is the top returning scorer for the Mustangs, as he averaged 11.6 points per game and canned a team-leading 46 three-pointers, while Clark, a third-team all-GNAC selection and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year last season, was also in double figures at 10.3 ppg while leading the conference in assists (5.1) and ranking second in steals (2.2) per outing.
Senior swingman Errald Jordine (Stamford, Conn./Hyde School) also brings double-figure scoring back to the lineup this winter after averaging 10.3 ppg and 5.1 caroms per contest in 2016-17 for Mount Ida, which welcomes back senior Brendan Cunningham (Quincy, Mass./Quincy) and junior Dennis Ross (Portland, Maine/Deering) to provide additional experience at the guard spot. Cunningham connected for 31 three-pointers and averaged 4.7 points per game off the bench for the Mustangs, while Ross averaged nearly seven points and over three rebounds as well for Cerone’s squad last winter.
Senior John Oliver (North Babylon, N.Y./Our Savior New American) lends depth as a swingman after averaging 4.3 ppg off the bench a year ago, while sophomore Issaiah Chappell (Concord, N.H./Sunapee) gained valuable experience during his inaugural collegiate campaign. Freshmen Ryan Tillery (Bowie, Md./Northwestern), Justin Brown (Baldwin, N.Y./Saint Mary’s) and Kevin Nunez (Dorchester, Mass./New Mission) will all be vying to make an impact in Mustang City during their rookie seasons as well this winter.
FORWARD. Conner started all 22 of his appearances in the frontcourt for Mount Ida last year, averaging 8.5 points and three rebounds along the way, while fellow senior Jacob Sartain (West Palm Beach, Fla./Avon) provides an additional veteran presence as one of the team’s top defensive performers after averaging 3.4 ppg off the bench in 2016-17. Sophomores Mackenzie Purry (Jackson, N.J./Notre Dame) and Kevin Vanderhorst (Lawrence, Mass./Lawrence) combined to appear in 32 games and average over three points per outing for Mount Ida as well last season.
CENTER. Sophomore Daniel Quinn (Holbrook, N.Y./Sachem North) returns in the middle for Cerone after appearing in 10 contests as a newcomer a year ago, while freshman Jonathan Friberg (North Attleboro, Mass./North Attleboro) bring his 6-7 frame to Mustang City looking to make an immediate impact as a rookie.
SCHEDULE. Cerone is set to guide his crew through a rugged 16-game GNAC slate once again, as Mount Ida will prepare for conference play with a challenging non-league schedule that includes Salve Regina, Lesley, Wheelock, Newbury, Worcester State, Wentworth and New England College as well as a pair of outings at the Wheaton Tip-Off Tournament to start the year.
The Mustangs begin the Brian Cerone era on Friday, November 17th by taking on Sage in opening round play of the Wheaton Tip-Off Tournament in Norton, Mass. beginning at 5:30 pm EST.