DELMAR A.G. Irons wasn't going to wait until the start of the Suburban Council season to test his Bethlehem boys basketball team.
Irons scheduled scrimmages last week against three traditional powers: Christian Brothers Academy, Watervliet and Lansingburgh. The goal was to see what the Eagles could do, and Irons said he was mostly pleased with the results.
"We scrimmaged CBA, and I thought we were very competitive against them," said Irons. "We scrimmaged Watervliet, who lost several players to graduation, and I thought we looked very good against them. And then, we scrimmaged Lansingburgh, and I didn't know what to expect there because Lansingburgh plays that tough, street ball style. I thought we played well there, too, although there were some things I felt we needed to work on."
Those tests will serve the Eagles well as they begin their 2013-14 season with Friday's home game against a veteran Guilderland squad.
"They're a quality team. We know they've got guys coming back," said Irons. "But when you look at it, the whole season doesn't come down to a single game. If we lose Friday, we'll have another game Tuesday."
The Eagles are looking to build upon last season's Suburban Council South Division championship and a two-point quarterfinal loss to eventual champion Troy in the Section II Class AA quarterfinals. Bethlehem graduated a pair of key players in forwards Nate Kane and Myles Bergere, but it returns forward John Sica and guard Connor Morelli.
"With Sica and Morelli, you've got John (Sica) who's started the last two years, and we've got Connor (Morelli) who's started for two years and played varsity for three years. They've got a lot of experience," said Irons.
Along with returning forward Jason Clas, Sica will be counted upon to give Bethlehem a strong inside presence.
"Last year, I think he played a little in the shadows of Kane and Bergere," Irons said of Sica, who is only a junior. "This year, I think he's taking on more of a leadership role on the team."
Morelli and senior guard Mike Graves give the Eagles two players who can push the tempo, which is a new component to the offensive system.
"We're a different type of team in terms of how we execute," said Irons.