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Orcutt boys basketball preview

Orcutt Academy seniors, from left to right, Devin Black, Mitchel McMann and James Tilley are expected to lead the Spartans boys basketball team this season.

Orcutt Academy's boys basketball team will try make a run toward the post-season in a new section and a new league with, for the most part, a new-look squad.

"We graduated seven seniors," from the team that went 5-18, including 1-13 in the Los Padres League, last year, third-year coach Ryan Smalley said.

Smalley spoke before the 2017-18 campaign started. The Spartans are off to a 3-2 start. 

"We have a pretty young team," Smalley said before the season began. "We have several players we brought up from last year's junior varsity."

The Spartans do have four returnees; 6-foot-4 forward Kyle Zafiris, point guard James Tilley, forward Devin Black and guard-forward Mitchell McMann.

Zafiris is a junior. The other three are seniors.

"James and Kyle were regulars last year," said Smalley. "The other two came off the bench on a limited basis.

"All four are going to get minutes," Smalley said. "Who we play at a particular time depends on how the game is going."

Elijah Stevenson, a junior, is the team's leading scorer, at just under 10 points a game. Sophomore Connor Adams averages just under eight.

Another varsity newcomer, Aidan Carroll, is the team's leading rebounder. He averages 8.6 rebounds a game. Zafiris, at 8.3, is second. 

Like most of the area athletic programs, the Spartans moved from the CIF Southern Section to the Central Section earlier this year.

Orcutt Academy moved over from the Southern Section's Los Padres League. Former LPL rivals Nipomo, Santa Maria, Templeton and Morro Bay, along with former PAC 8 League member Atascadero, will join the Spartans in the inaugural Ocean League. 

Unlike the Southern Section, any Central Section team that does not win a league championship can petition to get into the playoffs. 

Orcutt Academy is in the Central Section's Division III. There are 18 Division III boys basketball teams, and 16 Division III boys basketball playoff spots. 

Smalley is one who is not shy about making a number of adjustments according to how a game is going.

"On offense, we'll look to get the ball inside mainly through Kyle and Connor Adams," Orcutt's coach said.

"If the opportunity presents itself, if we get an excellent look. We'll shot the 3. I'll mix it up a lot on defense, depending on how the game is going. We'll play some man-to-man, press some. We'll focus on getting stops on defense and making the outlet pass. We're not going to rely on the press a lot." 

Adams is a 6-2 sophomore who played on the Orcutt junior varsity last year. On the 2017-18 Orcutt roster, he is listed as having played one varsity game.

"We have a pretty flexible roster at this point, with guys who can play multiple positions," said Smalley.

Smalley said his team will include one transfer who played on the St. Joseph junior varsity last year, Camden Smith.

Orcutt Academy will open its Ocean League campaign with a Jan. 4 game at Nipomo. The Spartans will again play their home games at Lakeview Junior High School.

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Sports Reporter