The Hammonton High School boys basketball team is looking to be just as competitive, if not more, than last season's 12-12 record.
To do that, Hammonton will have some work to do, but one player who can help make that possible is returning starter Christian Mortellite.
The senior is one of the team's leading scorers from last season when he was named an honorable mention Press All-Star.
However, three starters from last year - including Alex Padovani, who led the team in scoring in the first round of the playoffs - will not return.
Mortellite, at 6-foot-4, will be joined by fellow returning senior starter Isaiah Pugh, a 5-foot-9 guard.
The Blue Devils are small, but five other returning players have some experience.
With the help from newcomers Devon Porteons and Justin Harris, Hammonton hopes to finish above .500 in 2012-13.
"We're playing really good as a unit," Mortellite said. "We're still getting used to each other, but we like each other, we're sharing the ball, working hard and playing pretty good."
The team is hopeful that its mix of veterans and newcomers will be the right combination for another successful season.
"We don't plan on starting off slow this year," Mortellite said. "As long as we bring our A-game and play hard, there's no one we can't beat."
Contact Nyssa Dougherty:
Coach: Joe Martino (12th season)
2011-12 Record: 12-12
2012-13 prediction: Competitive.
Key players: Christian Mortellite, Sr., 6-4, G/F; Isaiah Pugh, Sr., 5-9, G; Matt Costa, Sr., 5-9, G; Mark Giberson, Jr., 6-0, G/F; Latell Haskins, Sr., 6-1, F; Kelvin Rivera, So., 5-6; G; Trey Hughey, Jr., 6-2, G/F.
Top newcomers: Devon Porteons, Sr., 6-2; F; Justin Harris, Jr., 6-0; G.
Dec. 14 vs. Oakcrest, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 16 vs. Egg Harbor Township, noon
Dec. 18 at Mainland Regional, 5:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 at Ocean City, 6 p.m.
Dec. 22 at Jackson Liberty, 2:15 p.m.
Dec. 27-29 Score at the Shore Tournament at Southern Regional, TBD
Jan. 2 at Vineland 6 p.m.
Jan. 4 at St. Augustine Prep, 7 p.m.
Jan. 8 vs. Lower Cape May Regional, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 11 vs. Middle Township, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 14 at Clearview Regional, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 15 at Bridgeton, 7 p.m.
Jan. 17 vs. Holy Spirit, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 22 at Oakcrest, 6 p.m.
Jan. 24 vs. Camden County Tech, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 25 vs. St. Joseph, 7 p.m.
Jan. 29 vs. Ocean City, 5:30 p.m.
Jan. 31 vs. St. Augustine Prep, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 5 at Lower Cape May Regional, 7 p.m.
Feb. 7 at Middle Township, 7 p.m.
Feb. 11 vs. Overbrook, 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 vs. Bridgeton, 5:30 p.m.