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Raven Boys Eye Potential for Solid Hoops Season

With only one senior, Alonso High School’s boys basketball team seemingly has a great future.

But Coach Todd Price said he expects the Ravens to be a formidable opponent this season, too.

“If we play to our capabilities, I think we’re going to be very good,’’ said Price, whose team was 14-12 last season after a groundbreaking 20-8 playoff-qualifying performance in 2015-16. “We don’t really have that one (dominant) player. But at the same time, we have lots of guys who can score.

“I think we’ll be hard to play against. I like the things we can do. If we do them consistently, we will be very good.’’

Alonso’s lone senior is 5-foot-10 point guard Drew Price, the coach’s son, who established himself as one of the most dangerous outside shooters in Hillsborough County.

Beyond that, the Ravens have plenty of athletic inside options, such as 6-3 junior Sager Cavalier, 6-4 Kamalii Findlay and 6-4 Miguel Miranda, a transfer from East Lake.

After playing with Alonso’s team all summer, junior point guard Christian DeLeon, a two-year starter, transferred to Hillsborough. But Price said he hopes to compensate in the backcourt with his son and 5-9 junior Terrionce Blalock, who has returned to Alonso after playing last season in Illinois.

The Ravens also have sophomore Andrew Leftwich, who was the leading scorer for Alonso’s junior-varsity team last season.

“People might look at our team and ask who will do the scoring, but the answer is, ‘Everyone!’” Findlay said. “All the other teams seem to have a dominant player they go to all the time. We have multiple players who can score and that’s a good thing.’’

“We might not be as big as some other teams, but we all know how to play basketball and we’re good at what we do,’’ Cavalier said. “I’m very optimistic about what we can get done this season.’’

The Ravens, after upsetting No. 1-ranked Sarasota Riverview in the previous season, had grinding results last year, usually taking one step forward and one step back. The highlight was an early season win against Hillsborough, which finished 28-3. That provided confidence. But there was never enough consistency to duplicate that type of production.

If anything, finding consistency is the team’s biggest goal, according to Cavalier.

“We expected to do more last season,’’ Cavalier said. “We fell just short a number of times and that was frustrating.

“I think when we played in the summer, it gave us an indication of our talent level and what we needed to work on. I think once we get on the same page, we’re going to have a better season. I think we can go a long way.’’

Cavalier’s inside muscle and Price’s zone-busting outside shooting figure to be the most compelling aspects of Alonso’s game.

“Pick your poison,’’ Cavalier said.

Price said it was disappointing to have DeLeon depart for another program after two seasons. But he was pleasantly surprised with the arrival of Miranda, who should help Alonso’s inside strength.

“I’m good friends with East Lake’s coach and he said we were getting a player who he thought would help us,’’ Price said. “I had no idea he was coming here, so it’s a great addition.

“I do think we’re going to be able to score inside effectively and that’s a good quality to have. And I like the face that we have a lot of options, a lot of guys who can score.’’

The Ravens will play in a preseason tournament during Thanksgiving week at Wharton High School, then open the regular season at home on Nov. 28 against the Wharton Wildcats.

Price said he likes the opener. Wharton has long been considered one of Hillsborough County’s top public-school teams. Alonso has never defeated Wharton during Price’s 11-season tenure.

“It’s a good way to measure yourself right off the bat,’’ Price said. “We’ve given Wharton some good battles. You know it’s going to be a heck of a game because Wharton is talented and so well-coached.

“I wouldn’t count us out of any game. We have a good mix of players. If we play together and get on a roll, I think good things are ahead for us.’’

By Joey Johnston

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