East Cougars Basketball 2020-2021 Recap/Preview

Drew Greene (‘22) loads up for three in the Group 4 finals at Atlantic City

Courtesy of Mayor Maier (‘20)

Drew Greene (‘22) loads up for three in the Group 4 finals at Atlantic City

Going into last season, Cherry Hill East’s basketball program wasn’t expected to have a lot of success. From critics saying ‘it’s a rebuilding season’ to ‘they’re just too young and inexperienced’, it was easy to tell the expectations were low. Those critics would quickly be silenced when East jumped out to a 5-1 record and would ultimately finish the season 20-10. A lot of that success was due to the performance of the sophomores, most notably second year guard Drew Greene (‘22).“My thought of last year’s performance was just unbelievable. It was unbelievable because no one believed we were going to get that far except us. Last year was so much fun for everyone on the team no matter the playing time. We had a family that would do anything for each other and that’s why we were so successful. It was an honor to play last year. We played hard every game and played for each other, not ourselves. One of our biggest things we said was “play hard,play smart, and play together.” said Greene, now a junior at Cherry Hill East and the expected starting point guard after helping guide the team alongside his older brother Ryan to the Group 4 finals. “Those three factors helped us be that amazing and fun team to watch last year. We had to do all the little things that led us to the victory and we just had to outwork everyone in South Jersey.”

The Cougars unfortunately suffered a loss against Atlantic City in those Group 4 finals, which would end up being one of the last games played before COVID-19 hit. Instead of sulking over the loss, players held their heads high, realizing that the season they had was remarkable, and one of those players was Ryan Bloom (‘21).

“As a Junior, reaching the group 4 finals was something I’ll never forget. Now being a senior with experience, I know what it’s like to lose a close game, or come together and win a tough one,” said Bloom. He knows the potential this year’s team has to be successful, which is why he views this season as a win-or-bust.

“Our expectations are definitely high, as they always should be at East. This year, as a senior, I want to win it all. The majority of the guys on the team were with us last year, and they know how dedicated we all are to win each game. I have to make sure we are all on the same page, and all focused on the main goal, which is to win,” he said.

Most of the team will be returning, but one key loss to the Cougars is Ryan Greene (‘20). East will be missing his contributions of 14.1 ppg, and will look to his younger brother Drew to fill in the gap they’re losing, along with other players.

“I think personally I just have to be more of a leader this year because we lost a big one last year which was my big brother, Ryan Greene. As a team I think our work ethic could always improve and also other players need to step up this year. We can always get better no matter how good we are and especially this year teams are going to come after us,” said Drew.

One of those other players is Jake Green (‘22), who although isn’t related to Drew and Ryan still plays very well alongside them. Green led the state in three-pointers with 102 as just a sophomore, and will be expected to score even more this year.

Jake Green (‘22) prepares to score another three-pointer (Courtesy of Nate Pullano (‘22))

“Last year I was just grateful to be able to play, as well as start in our games as a sophomore on a good team and now I’m just trying to grow from the player I was last year,” said Green.

Coronavirus has continued to pose an issue that can prevent players from staying in shape and preparing for the upcoming season, but Ryan Bloom and Jake Green haven’t let that stop them from improving.

“I lifted weights, went on runs, made sure I ate healthy, and most importantly played a lot of basketball,” said Green.

“It’s crazy to think that we played in a high school with hundreds of people the same week school and everything was shut down for months. It was definitely difficult, just so much was going on. I spent hours weekly just trying to get outside, and I thank my brother Evan for playing with me on local outdoor courts,” said Ryan. “The team kept in touch, just making sure everyone was staying in shape, and of course healthy. It was hard not being able to go to the JCC, or just a court to play with my friends or teammates. We’ve all been doing our best to continually get shots up, and just be active especially being home all day for school.”

East basketball is preparing for the upcoming season in their fall league, in which Drew Greene and the rest of the Cougs have been building chemistry to gain an edge over opponents. Greene’s distributing ability combined with Jake Green’s knock down jumper will be one of the most lethal combos in the state this upcoming season, and with the increased experience of guys on the team, it should be a fun year to watch East basketball.