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Montclair's coach Gary Wallace is making sure that his Mounties are more accountable as they prepare for next winter's campaign as he hopes to have all players not involved in football or soccer running cross country this fall in addition to other workouts. (Photos by Mustafa Hooten-D1MediaPro.com)
One of Montclair's top returning veteran hoopsters is rising senior Charles Murphy (23), who is also the football team's starting quarterback this fall in addition to being a major college highly-sought-after recruit at wide receiver.
Charles Murphy has sights set on better winter campaign in 2018-2019 with the work the Mountie hoops squad has been putting in during this summer.
Young Montclair coach Gary Wallace expects more from his team as the summertime work leads into busy fall and hopefully better winter season.
'Family First' has been major theme for Montclair basketball this summer
Montclair High Hoops Coach Set
MONTCLAIR- Gary Wallace continues to grow as a coach as he nears his 30 th birthday and his Montclair High basketball team currently does its share of summer work which has continued through July with games in the highly-competitive Elizabeth Summer League.
The Mounties did not have much success last winter, finishing 8-14 overall and just 3-9 in the Super Essex Conference’s top division, the American, and they have since been moved down a division to the second-tier SEC-Liberty; and the goal for Wallace and his team is to play well enough – including next year’s goal of winning the Liberty Division title – in order to climb back up into the top division in the 2019-2020 season.
But, much work must be accomplished and Wallace - who honed his trade while playing for top coaches such as Bob Farrell at Seton Hall Prep and Mike Rice at Robert Morris – is not waiting for something to just happen with his fairly experienced group of varsity holdovers plus perhaps a few newcomers.
He’s moving forward, and he is determined that his players will be right there with him.
“We’re going to hold kids accountable, that’s for sure,” said the lifelong Montclair resident and brother of successful Mounties track and cross country coach Sophia Kenny. “In that regard, in addition to the work we’re this summer, for the guys that aren’t already involved in a fall sport we’re going to have them run cross country.
“And, with my sister coaching that team I can keep an extra close eye on their progress in getting in great shape for the next basketball season.”
The Mounties, who will return a large number of rising seniors this fall, have already participated in the Rider Team Camp. In addition to games in the Elizabeth Summer League at the Dunn Center on Tuesday and Thursday nights, the players also lift three days a week and have other workouts as well.
“I can already tell that the kids are buying into what we’re trying to accomplish in improving as a team,” said Wallace. “We played smarter basketball, including not turning the ball over, in some good moments in the Rider Team Camp, and everyone seemed more locked in, which was great to see.
“Now, we have to continue with that frame of mind the rest of this summer and during the fall as well.”
Among the key seniors to watch next winter are veteran swingmen Gabe Schreiber and Charles Murphy with the ladder being the heavily-recruited football wide receiver who will play quarterback this fall for the Mounties.
Forward Isaiah McPherson and guards Shawn Summers, Destine Virgil, Deshawn Davis and Steven Rose are other veteran returnees with varsity experience.
Wallace said that current football players Willie Matthews and Walter King could also be out for hoops after the gridiron campaign. Matthews was supposed to play last winter; however, he continued to be slowed by an assortment of injuries, including to his shoulder following an all-state fall as one of the top linebackers in the state.
Shawn Collins is another senior who could figure in for the first time next hoops season. `
“The indication is there are a number of guys who did not play last season who will be coming out this year,” said Wallace. “Hopefully, we have a deeper team and one that stays fully engaged for the long haul which I believe will be the case based on the work we’re putting in right now and proper attitude we’re exhibiting as well.”
HOOPS NOTES- The SEC-Liberty for next season will include Montclair, Bloomfield, Barringer, East Orange Campus, Columbia, Orange and Millburn giving the loop – outside of Millburn- an old-time Big 10 Conference feel…The new Payne school (Bloomfield Tech and North 13 th Street Tech now combined into one school) has been elevated into the SEC-American along with West Orange, which was a top team in the Liberty last season….Graduated MHS point guard Zion Wyatt has moved with his dad Steve, the longtime area AAU coach, to Arizona where he hopes to find a fit for a college basketball situation out West…Slated to return as MHS assistant coaches with Wallace are Keith Hines, Ricky Page and Evan Holt.
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Montclair assistant coach Ricky Page (center) comes off court during Elizabeth Summer League game with rising seniors Destine Virgil (28) and Charles Murphy. MHS has a veteran group returning next season.
Montclair's Charles Murphy heads upcourt with ball in recent game as the Mounties competed in the Elizabeth Summer League at the Dunn Center.
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