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***Tony Jones has had his share of fine MKA basketball teams in the past two decades and now has one of the bigger challenges in his coaching career as Cougars return little experience in the new season!

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***The University of Kentucky's Josh Allen has made all of Essex County proud with the season he has had for the Wildcats while his NFL stock also continues to soar with Defensive Player of the Year awards. Read "Feature Articles"

***There have been two creative proposals regarding transfers in the past three years and both were eventually not approved. Nothing substantial has been talked about since then. Check out "The Buzz"

Montclair senior Charles Murphy (23), who has committed to Towson University for football, is also 3-year starter on the hartdwood and the Mounties leading scorer from last winter as the veteran-led squad now prepares to open up the new Super Essex Conference season on Friday night at Orange HS. (Photo by Gene Nann - genenann.smugmug.com)

   More Attention To Detail Emphasized
     As Montclair Eyes An Improved Season

By Steve Tober
For sidelinechatter.com

MONTCLAIR- Gary Wallace has liked a lot of what he has seen as his Montclair High basketball team undertakes another challenging season in the hoops-rich Super Essex Conference.

“I just look at the way guys are paying more attention to detail, listening and also pushing each other to get better,” said the Mounties’ third-year head coach. “I know what I expect of them and when I see them challenging each other and also competing at a high level I think more and more that we can do some great things this season.”

Montclair, coming off a 9-14 season (3-9 in the SEC’s top division, the American), is now a member of the loop’s second-best division, the Liberty, where it will challenge the likes of Columbia, Barringer, Orange and East Orange Campus for a division title come February.

The Mounties open up the new season at Orange 7 p.m., Friday, before entertaining longtime local rival EOC at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 18. Montclair will also compete in the Marist Holiday Tournament Dec. 27, 28 and 30th in Bayonne.

While a core group of seniors return from last winter’s up-and-down squad, there are also a few new pieces as Wallace sees a good chemistry developing.

“There are a lot of different pieces added to the puzzle and who knows how it will all come together, but I’m excited by the energy in the gym and we’re ready to see who wants to play,” continued Wallace. “A lot of our guys were here last year when we faced an extremely competitive schedule in the ‘A’ Division and they saw how hard it is to win in this conference, but they also had a chance to develop a mindset of being tougher and learning from that experience.

“We think it’s also going to be very competitive in the Liberty, and we know we’ll have to come ready to play each and every day.”

Leading the list of returnees is 3-year starting swingman, 6-foot-3 senior Charles Murphy, who was last season’s leading scorer and is a superb athlete as the veteran hoopster has also recently made a verbal commitment to play football at Towson University. He was the quarterback on the Mounties football team this past fall, but his best role is as a Division I caliber wide receiver.

Joining Murphy in the Mounties’ 2018-2019 senior mix are 6-2 swingman Gabe Schreiber, also a starter last year; 6-2 combo guard Shawn Summers, 6-5, 230-pound strongman Izaiah McPherson, and 5-9 guards Deshawn Davis and Steven Rose, all of whom saw action last season.

Other seniors adding to the mix this season are football wide receiver Walter King, a 6-1 forward, and energizing 5-6 guard Tyran Palmer. Matthew Basile, a 5-10 senior reserve guard, also adds to a potentially very deep bench.

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