The Atlantic City High School boys basketball team returns several standouts from a team that produced one of the most memorable seasons in school history.
The Vikings finished 26-6 and won the Cape-Atlantic League, South Jersey and state Group IV titles. Atlantic City returns 6-foot-9 center Jahleem Montague. Ga-Briel Chandler, a 6-5 senior, and Dennis White, a 6-5 junior, also return.
But the Vikings must replace 5-8 point guard Martel Johnson, who graduated after handling the ball flawlessly in the postseason.
"People don't understand how valuable Martel was," Atlantic City coach Gene Allen said. "That's the one unknown we have that could turn into an Achilles heal."
Allen said Dayshawn Reynolds will start at point guard. Reynolds, a 6-1 senior, is one of the region's most talented athletes. Reynolds, who started at shooting guard last season, played point guard this summer for his AAU team.
"I went and saw him this summer up in Philly play against real quality talent and he did a great job of running the point," Allen said. "That reassured me."
Reynolds will get some help at the point from his cousin, 5-9 junior Tashad Reynolds, who played point guard for the junior varsity last season.
Junior guard Isaiah Graves, who emerged during the playoffs as an outstanding scorer, also will help handle the ball. Allen said the 6-2 Graves got stronger playing for the Atlantic City football team this fall.
"He's definitely more physically imposing," Allen said. "I think that's going to bode well because he likes to (drive) to the rim. Now, he can take contact and absorb contact. I think he's going to have a good season."
Contact Michael McGarry:
League: Cape-Atlantic American
Group: South Jersey Group IV
Coach: Gene Allen
Last season's record: 26-6
2012-13 prediction: Favorite - The Vikings have the talent to repeat their success of last season when they won the CAL and the state Group IV title. Jahleem Montague, a 6-8 senior, is an offensive and defensive force.
Key players: Jahleem Montague, Sr., C, 6-8; Ga-briel Chandler, Sr., 6-5, F; Dennis White, Jr., 6-5, F; Dayshawn Reynolds, Sr., 6-1, G; Isaiah Graves, Jr., 6-2, G; Tashad Reynolds, Jr., 5-9, G; Kevin Allen, So., 6-3, F; Rob Lowe, Sr., 6-0, F; Lamar Thomas, Fr., 5-9, G; Jaleel Prevard, Sr., 6-1, F.
4 p.m. Dec. 22 vs. Archbishop Wood of Pa. at Wildwoods Convention Center
5:45 p.m. Jan. 19 vs. St. Anthony at the Jersey City Armory
7: 30 p.m. Feb. 1 vs. St. Augustine Prep
2:30 p.m. Feb. 17 vs. Paulsboro at Cherry Hill East