Chatham Basketball in Good Hands with Backcourt of Raiola and Conrad

Senior guards Robert Raiola and Luke Conrad are each three-year varsity players for Chatham Credits: TAP Chatham
James Van Wickler, a 6-7 senior playing his first year of basketball Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - Todd Ervin has done a lot of winning as the boys basketball coach at Chatham High, but it's obvious he doesn't rest on his past laurels.

Asked on the second day of practice what his team's record was last season, Ervin said: "I have no idea."

Ervin then went to his go-to guy, Robert Raiola, to get the answer. The senior guard recalled that Chatham went 22-6 and advanced to the third round of the state tournament.

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Ervin has his mind on preparations for the upcoming season and he's confident he can count on Raiola and fellow senior guard Luke Conrad to produce the numbers on the court.

"My two guards have been starting for three years," Ervin said. "We started pressing a lot two years ago and we're still doing that. Try to play up and down. We try to run a lot of guys out there, provided we can do it right."

Raiola, Conrad and fellow senior Danny Winschuh are the three veterans from a team that lost eight seniors from a year ago. The athletic Winschuh is headed to Princeton University to play lacrosse. In addition to those three, the Cougars have plenty of talent and some added size on the current roster.

"We have some big kids this year," Ervin said. "That's unusual for us. Seniors who we'll count on are Max Brown and Logan Loeloff, and Graham Delaney (junior), who is very athletic."

Two sophomores, Colin McKenna, 6-3, and 6-6 Stefan Goles add an inside presence for Chatham. A pleasant surprise could be 6-7 senior James Van Wickler, who is out for the first time. Van Wickler already showed signs that he could be an asset in his first practice with the team on Tuesday.

The depth includes two soccer players, juniors Greg Mah and Miles Michell, who helped Chatham win a state sectional crown this fall, and junior guard Paul Deamer.

"I think we have a good chance to contend for counties again," Raiola said. "We won our conference two years in a row, made two county finals in a row, winning two years ago. We lost eight seniors, but I'm confident of the younger kids stepping in and playing well. We have some chemistry. Coach Ervin has raised the expectations of the program. You can see we have an attitude and intensity at practice."

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