The Cedar Creek High School boys basketball team wasn't able to do much scrimmaging early in the preseason.
The Pirates have the school's football team to thank for that. Several of Cedar Creek's basketball players also played on the football team, which lost in the South Jersey Group II title game last Saturday. Because of a week-long delay in the football season as a result of Hurricane Sandy, teams were prepping for fall championship games as the winter preseason began.
As they waited for players such as Georgia Tech verbal commit Damon Mitchell to join the team, Cedar Creek - in its second varsity season - got back to basics.
"We've only had about eight to 10 guys at each practice," Pirates coach Phil Schaffer said. "We've just continued to work on our fundamentals."
One player to watch for is junior forward Jacob Knight, who was an honorable mention Press All-Star as a sophomore.
Several teams in the Cape-Atlantic League United Division are rebuilding. But the Pirates, who return all of last year's key players, still have growing to do. Schaffer noted that teams such as Wildwood Catholic and Pleasantville traditionally deliver strong teams, even while experiencing significant roster turnover.
One thing Cedar Creek has that it lacked before - a senior class. The school opened in 2010 with only freshmen and sophomores.
When the Pirates began as a JV squad in 2010, they counted on sophomores to take charge. Those players, now seniors, embrace that role now.
"We relied on sophomores, and they weren't mature enough. … We finally have senior leadership," Schaffer said.
Contact Brittany Grugan:
League: Cape-Atlantic League United
Group: South Jersey Group II
Coach: Phil Schaffer (5-20, one season)
2011-12 record: 5-20
2012-13 prediction: Spoiler
Key returnees: Jacob Knight, Jr., 6-4, F; Chris Newman, Sr., 5-11, G; Caleb Graves, Sr., 5-9, G; Nolan Seward, Sr., 6-2, G; Damon Mitchell, Sr., 6-2, F; Matt Dennis, Sr., 5-10, G; Gary Melton, Sr., 5-10, G.
Dec. 14: at Buena Regional, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 16: at Ocean City (Ocean City Tipoff Tournament), 7 p.m.
Dec. 17: at Pleasantville, 7 p.m.
Dec. 20: vs. Atlantic County Institute of Technology, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 27: vs. Woodbury (Boardwalk Classic in Wildwood), 12:30 p.m.
Dec. 28: TBD (Boardwalk Classic in Wildwood)
Dec. 30: vs. LEAP Academy (at Rutgers-Camden Tournament), 11 a.m.
Jan. 3: vs. Cape May Tech, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: at St. Joseph, 7 p.m.
Jan. 12: vs. Moorestown, 12:30 p.m.
Jan. 14: vs. Sacred Heart, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 17: vs. Absegami, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 19: vs. Jenkintown (Pa.), 4 p.m.
Jan. 22: vs. Buena Regional, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 24: vs. Pleasantville, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 28: at Atlantic County Institute of Technology, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 31: at Cape May Tech, 7 p.m.
Feb. 4: vs. St. Joseph, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 7: at Wildwood Catholic, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 11: at Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.
Feb. 13: vs. Vineland, 5:30 p.m.