The wait is almost over. In less than two weeks, the Aces will officially return to action for the first time since their state championship win in Hershey last March. The season opener, against familiar District 3 foe Lancaster McCaskey, will be played at the annual Eastern PA Invitational Tip-Off Tournament on Friday 12/1 at Parkland High School. The game will mark the end of a long summer which saw the young Aces compete and grow against tough opponents in the Greater Philadelphia League, Downingtown and Haverford tournaments and Alvernia Team Camp. A nine-day trip to Maui in late July proved to be a summer highlight and a once-in-a-lifetime bonding experience for the team.
Players and coaches hope the active offseason program will yield immediate benefits for a team with a number of fresh faces. Only one regular starter returns from last year's team and only a handful of players have varsity experience. The Aces will play a characteristically tough schedule, laced with non-league powerhouses like McCaskey, Chester, Pennsbury, Communications Tech and Penn Wood and 18 contests against rivals in a Central League loaded with talented teams.
The coaching staff welcomes a few additions as well, including former Aces star Evan Monsky '95, who returns to the bench as a varsity assistant. (Monsky is best known for his gritty play during the '95 district and state playoff run, when he played through a broken wrist and led the team to a dramatic victory against Coatesville.) Perhaps the most anticipated arrival, however, is that of Ryan Vernick, son of varsity assistant Chris Vernick and wife Christine, who entered the world earlier this month at just over six pounds. Congratulations to the Vernick family!
For basketball fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the team in action, two scrimmages will be played next week at home. The Aces welcome the nation's sixth-ranked team, Neumann-Goretti, to the main gym on Wednesday (11/22) at 3:30 PM and then take the court with Emmaus on Saturday (11/25) at 10:00 AM. Saturday's contest will also include an "official" introduction of this year's team and giveaways and prizes for fans.
Other news and notes....Former assistant coach Blake Stabert has moved on to Central Bucks South, where he has been hired as a social studies teacher. Blake will serve as Varsity Assistant in his new post. Also moving on is Mike Venafra, who took a sales position in Atlanta. Last year's trainer, Jason Natale, is now working for the Minnesota Vikings.