Shane McCusker (above) and C.B. West are motivated by last year's first-round district playoff loss. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Tyler Sandora (@tyler_sandora)
(Ed. Note: This story is part of CoBL’s “Prepping for Preps” series, which will take a look at many of the top high school programs in the region as part of our 2017-18 season preview coverage. The complete list of schools previewed so far can be found here.)
When Shane McCusker looks at the wall in his bedroom, something that catches his eye is a newspaper cut-out. It a story about the game he and his Central Bucks West team lost in the first round of the PIAA 6A district tournament last season to Hatboro-Horsham and current Indiana freshman Clifton Moore.
“Motivation,” McCusker said. “It motivates me and makes me want to get back to the same place, only with a different outcome.”
The Bucks were the No. 12 seed in the 24-team bracket after finishing the year 15-8, but they fell to the No. 12-seeded Hatters, 34-32 in double overtime.
“We just got in our own heads,” McCusker said. “We weren’t making shots so we got down on ourselves. Clifton Moore blocked a ton of our shots...it was a rough offensive night.”
The Bucks return three starters from last year’s district qualifying team. Jake Reichwein, one of those returning starters, is a big, bruising forward who also stars on the football team, is a 6-3, 225 pound senior. Jake’s older brother, Cal Reichwein, is a sophomore at Lafayette.
The third returning starter behind Reichwein and McCusker is CB West’s star, Collin MacAdams.
MacAdams enters his senior year as one of the highest-recruited players in CB West history, receiving offers from a handful of Division II schools before settling on California (Pa.) earlier in November. An athletic, 6-5 wing, MacAdams can play with the ball in his hands and has range out to the 3-point arc but also knows how to get his own production on offensive rebounds and hustle, and he’s also a versatile defender who can take the ‘1’ through the ‘5.
“Colin’s game has changed a lot,” Sherman said on his senior star. “In the beginning, he was really athletic but didn’t really know where to use it. Last year he learned how to use it in our system. This year he has developed a nice-looking jumper. He has given his game a lot of balance.”
Last year’s Bucks squad featured not one returning starter from the two years ago, when CB West took down Abington to win the Suburban One League championship. The Bucks then advanced to the 2016 PIAA AAAA state playoffs, downing Central York in the first round. The magic ended there, when eventual state champion Roman Catholic put away the Bucks in the second round, 60-41.
MacAdams, the Bucks' versatile wing, will play his college ball at D-II Cal (Pa.). (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Since the Bucks were so talented two years ago when MacAdams was a sophomore, he rarely found playing time at the varsity level. Since then, he’s been able to develop his game, thanks to the willingness of the Bucks’ coaches to work with him.
“[It] means everything,” MacAdams said. “I couldn’t have done it without my coaching staff and teammates. They let me shoot the ball and develop as a player. I’ve been walking around town, and I see my fans say, ‘what’s up Collin?’, that’s really cool.”
Sherman, who is entering his 17th season at the Doylestown school, will this year have with a team that graduated three seniors last year, most notably guards Jack Triana and Liam Cooney. But with the talented guards the Bucks are bringing back, the coaching staff is confident they will be able to fill the voids left by Cooney and Triana rather quickly.
One of those players the CB West staff is excited about is sophomore guard Mika Munari. He’s still young, and a little bit undersized at 5-11, but don’t be surprised to see him joining MacAdams in the backcourt this year. Munari has got a quick first step, is a steady ball handler, and has been running the offense on occasion so far this preseason.
Junior Jack Mulhern (5-9) will start at point guard, while sophomore Jack Neri (6-3) will have a chance to see some minutes off the bench this season.
The Bucks have participated in various leagues this offseason, due in part to the fact that this team is still getting used to playing with each other.
“Everytime we play we get better and more experienced,” Sherman said. “The more games we play in the offseason the better we’ll be during the year.”
Throughout these preseason leagues, Sherman has also been seeing a new group of guys gel together, knowing these will be the guys he will go to battle with every night, and trying to figure out the best way to coach them.
“We are getting better at handling adversity,” he said. “A team should learn and realize that other teams are going to have runs. It’s how you handle those runs that determines if it is a long run or a short run by the other team, and that is important.”
CB West is part of the competitive Suburban One Continental division, with teams like Pennridge, North Penn, and their rivals, CB South and CB East. CB West placed second in the division last year, and is hopeful to return to the top spot.
The Bucks will open up their season by hosting Spring-Ford, which is usually a close game every year. They will then take on Methacton, Academy Park, Boys Latin (Md.), and Wissahickon, before traveling down to the Music City for a Christmas tournament in Nashville, Tennessee.
It’s obvious that this year’s Bucks team will need to get used to playing with each other. But when they do, with their star player, and returning varsity contributors motivated from last year’s early exit in districts, CB West hopes to shock some people in postseason play.