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South Kortright-s Charlie Darling grabs a rebound during a Class D state semifinal last March in Glens Falls.

Delaware League boys basketball teams probably aren't shedding any tears over the number of players South Kortright lost to graduation.

That said, the well hasn't run dry for the Rams.

South Kortright went 26-0 and won its first Class D boys basketball state championship last season, but the defending Delaware League and Section Four champion graduated the bulk of its starting five in Eric Burns, Josh Palmatier, Kyle Hotaling and Dan Many.

Rashawn Herrington, Tanner Metzko and Charlie Darling are back, though, and that could be more than enough.

"All they do is reload," Davenport coach Lee Fisher said with a laugh. "They have good athletes over there. ... They are going to be strong. They will be one of the teams to beat, without a doubt.

"(SK coach) Bob VanValkenburgh is the best," Fisher continued. "He's tough. I don't think he's ever had a bad season _ in anything. You don't get many coaches who do it all well."

Herrington, a senior who is arguably the most athletic player in the area, served as the sixth-man on a deep team last season. A First Team Daily Star All-Star as a junior, Herrington also earned Third Team all-state honors and made the Class D state tournament All-Star Team.

Herrington averaged 10.3 points and shot 53 percent from the field for the Rams, who stunned Greenport, 47-43, in the 2009 Class D state final. Herrington scored 15 points against Greenport.

"He's an exceptional athlete," said 27th-year coach VanValkenburgh, who also led the Rams to Section Four titles in boys soccer and baseball last year. "He can do it on both ends of the floor. He definitely helps us on defense, and when he gets in the open court on offense, he'll be tough to stop."

Senior guard Metzko is the only returning starter, but classmate Darling, a forward, contributed significant minutes off the bench last season. Together with Herrington, the three will join guard Ladd Hanselman and forward Jon Denario in an all-senior starting five.

The toughest job for VanValkenburgh may be getting his team to forget about last year.

"We talked about it being a different year," he said. "The kids playing now are making it their season. We don't have lofty goals right now, but we'll be competitive."

SK already has served noticed that it's the team to beat again, though, with a 67-38 thumping of Mountain Division rival Andes last Friday and a 61-37 rout of defending Upper Division champ Hunter-Tannersville on Dec. 4.

Andes coach John Bernhardt said his team, which went 10-10 last season, must jell quickly if it is to contend.

"I thought we'd have a legit chance," Bernhardt said. "We haven't had a good preseason. We haven't had the commitment you need for that level."

Bernhardt said offense is a problem for his Mountaineers, who are playing hot potato instead of shooting.

"You can't win if you score fewer than 40 points," Bernhardt said. "They've been reluctant to shoot. I've never had that problem before. Kids usually shoot too much."

Senior forward Josh Bonifacic had a team-best 8.2 points and 8.3 rebounds per game last season for Andes, which also returns senior point guard Cody Ruff (6.9 ppg, 4.2 assists pg) and junior guard/forward Eric Reed (7.4 ppg). Senior center James Litaker and sophomore guard/forward Sage Beemer round out the starting five.

Bernhardt said sophomore Eddie Mackay will leave the team at the end of the month as his family is moving to Arizona.

Roxbury returns one of the top players in the league in DaVaun Morgan, a First Team Daily Star All-Star last season who averaged 18.5 points and 9.6 assists. The Rockets, who finished 14-7 a season ago, lost Ryan Skipper (16 ppg) and Tim Douglas (10 ppg) to graduation. Seniors David Clark (guard), Andy Merwin (forward) and Earl Thomas (guard) also return.

Senior guard Justin Kovacevich is back for Gilboa, which went 8-12 last season. The Wildcats graduated Loukas Vogiatzis, who averaged 11 points, but seniors Doug Campbell, John Denora and Nate Spillane and junior Joe Cooper return.

Jefferson looks to junior guard Tyler Dibble, who averaged 16 points in leading the J-Hawks to a 7-12 record a season ago. Senior forward Eddie Case and junior guard Stephen Schmitt also return for 12th-year coach Joe Henry.

Second-year Downsville coach Dan Haynes lost his top four scorers from 2008-09, so Matt Barnes and Sean Abrams will lead a young group of Eagles.

Davenport should rule the Upper Division.

"Davenport is probably the team to beat," VanValkenburgh said of the Wildcats, who return all but two players from last season. "They have other guys back with experience."

Fisher said he's looking to senior guards Buddy Adam and Mike Ontl for leadership.

"That's what we were always lacking after (Dan) Toombs and Matt Rap and all those guys left," Fisher said, referring to his back-to-back state semifinal teams in 2006 and 2007.

Junior guard Michael Ballard also starts at guard for Davenport, which followed an 18-5 finish last winter with a 3-0 start this season. Junior Brendan Chase (6-foot-4) and sophomore Robert Meyerhoff will start at forward.

Graduation hurt Hunter-Tannersville as Zach Clark (15 ppg), Derek Legg (11) and Ryan Megnin (10) are gone. Junior guards Kyle Friedman and Zach Davis join junior forwards Dylan Outtrim and Jay Michael as the next generation of Wildcats.

Ed Shalkey Tournament finalist Stamford lost top scorer Mike Brown (13.7 points) but returns juniors David Gula (10.5 ppg/5.6 rpg) and Mike Gaddis (8.8 ppg/7.5 rpg) from its 11-7 team last season. Seniors Justin All, Sean Callagy and Ben Fancher also return for 27th-year coach Greg O'Connell.

First-year coach Dave Goodchild takes over at Margaretville, which finished 4-14 last season. Brian Faulkner, a senior center, averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds last year. Senior forward Marcus Moore averaged nine points and six rebounds and senior guard Mitch VanKeuren was at six points and four assists. Junior guard/forward Patrick O'Connell is also back.

Second-year Windham coach Joel Middleton has senior guards Evan Goettsche (13.2 ppg) and Matt Bentley back from a squad that finished 4-14 last winter.

___

P.J. Harmer can be reached at pharmer@thedailystar.com or 607-432-1000, ext. 229.

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