West Allis - After a 2011-12 season filled with big victories, the West Allis Central boys basketball team suffered some major losses.
Last season, the Bulldogs went 19-5 and won their first conference championship in 33 years by claiming the Greater Metro Conference crown.
Graduation claimed such standouts as forward Najeal McMillian, center Tonnie Collier and forward Darvell Brown, and the Bulldogs took another big hit when talented point guard Jarvis Garrett, a NOW Newspapers All-Suburban selection, decided to finish his high school career at a prep school on the East coast.
Garrett averaged 13 points, six assists and three steals a year ago, and now all that is gone.
"Garrett was a great leader," said head coach David Mlachnik, who was given the NOW coach of the year award last season. "He set the tone for us offensively and defensively. We lose those seniors as well.
"This opens the door, though, for other guys to step up. There are minutes to be had and points to be had. These guys put in a lot of work in the summer, and this year's senior class has a great team attitude."
Central can build around three players who saw significant time on last year's team. They are 5-foot, 11-inch sophomore guard Brandon Key, who averaged around seven points last year; 6-0 junior guard Ron Turkvan, who was at six points per contest; and 6-0 senior guard Jaquan Carson, who added four points per game.
Key and Turkvan started last season and Carson played major minutes.
"I think Brandon and Ron are set for breakout years, and Jaquan will be a defensive standout for us," Mlachnik said.
Other seniors are 6-3 forward Ezekiel Martin, 6-3 forward Anthony Phillips, 6-2 forward Tony Helm, a strong outside shooter, 6-0 guard Josh Neary, 5-11 guard Drew Dalzin and 6-1 forward Tre Nowaczynski. Mlachnik said all were contributors last season.
"Our strengths should be ballhandling and the ability to get out and play pressure defense," the coach said. "We have strong guard play, although we don't have much size this year."
He picked Brookfield Central, Sussex Hamilton and Brookfield East to be among the top teams in the GMC this season.
Central begins the season at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 16 at Destiny. The first GMC contest is Dec. 7 at Sussex Hamilton.
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