By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
The Queen of Peace boys’ basketball team struggled last season, posting an uncharacteristic 6-19 record.
“We were definitely expecting a different kind of year,” said head coach Tom McGuire, a former standout basketball player at QP. “It sticks in my side a little bit. I’m never going to understand what happened last year and I never want it to happen again. It was a long season.”
But McGuire did get one positive vibe from last year’s troubled season.
“We have chemistry now,” McGuire said. “We didn’t have that last year. It took time to develop. We have nine returning lettermen with about half of them from the football team. They were all in the weight room, all in the gym when there was free time. Every opportunity they could get, they were playing basketball.”
Because there were so many experienced members of the Golden Griffins’ roster, McGuire didn’t have to make wholesale changes.
“It made things a lot easier,” McGuire said. “We didn’t have to install too much. We just dusted off what we had.”
Leading the way for the Golden Griffins is the same guy who led the football team to the state playoffs, even getting a win in the states.
Senior Kevin Momnohin, who broke all school records for rushing for almost 2,000 yards and scoring 34 touchdowns last fall, is the starter at point guard. The 5-foot-10 Momnohin is asked to duplicate on the hardwood what he did on the gridiron.
“We definitely expect him to be a leader,” McGuire said of Momnohin, who averaged eight points per game last season. “He’s a tremendous defensive player who shuts people down. I believe that defense breeds offense. He gets a lot of offense off his steals.”
Sophomore Jeremy Joseph is the team’s starter at shooting guard. The 6-foot-3 Joseph has a ton of talent and potential.
“He can play anywhere on the floor,” McGuire said. “He keeps getting better and better. I expect him to really take the next step this year and become a better player. There should be a progression. We asked a lot of him last year to play as a freshman and he handled it well. He’s in sync with everything we do.”
Senior Matt Riley is a 6-foot- 2 forward who makes the step up to varsity starter.
“He was our sixth man last year,” McGuire said. “Matt is probably our best shooter. He’s our most consistent player. He can stretch the court with what he does.” Senior Danny Douelfakar is a 6-foot-3 inside presence for the Golden Griffins.
“He’s a two-year varsity player who’s a tough kid and a solid rebounder,” said McGuire of Douelfakar, who averaged seven points and nine rebounds per game last year. “I envision him as a solid inside player.”
Senior Pat O’Keeffe is another solid inside performer.
“He’s aggressive,” McGuire said. “He’s a banger down low. He has a good mid-range jumper or at the elbow. Mentally, he’s in the right place defensively. He does all the right things.”
Junior Mike Pettigrew is a 6-foot guard.
“He’s more of a shooting guard,” McGuire said. “He can also play small forward. He’s definitely one of our better shooters.”
If Momnohin needs a breather, junior Joe Cook, the proverbial gym rat, takes over.
James Lia is a 5-foot junior guard.
“He’s very good as a ball defender,” McGuire said. “He will earn his minutes as a defender.”
“He’s a very good on-theball defender,” McGuire said. “That’s how he’ll earn his minutes, by playing defense.”
Kristian Rosario is a 6-8 senior guard.
“He’s one of our better ball handlers,” McGuire said. “I think we have a chance to be a pretty good defensive team with players like him.”
Keith Momnohin, Kevin’s twin brother, is another key contributor.
“Keith is like our sparkplug,” McGuire said. “He does all the dirty work, the little things, coming off the bench.”
Senior Anthony Burgagni is a 6-foot-2 forward.
“He’s a good practice player who practices hard,” McGuire said. “He’s also good on the boards.”
McGuire believes that his team is well improved over last year.
“I think we’re going to compete in the league,” McGuire said. “I really like our chances. We have chemistry and that’s the first step. We have a good chance to compete. I’m just hoping that we can surprise some people this year.”