Braeden Lawson

Grandview senior guard Braeden Lawson is one of four returning starters for Zebra basketball, which will try for its third straight district title. 

GRANDVIEW — After back-to-back district titles and deep playoff runs, the Grandview Zebras will look for more of the same in 2019-20.

In the past three seasons, Grandview has compiled 76 wins against 26 losses, including an undefeated district championship last season and a state tournament appearance in 2017-18.

The Zebras have been entirely dominant in district play the last two seasons, with a 27-1 record in that span — 13-1 in 2017-18 to win its first basketball district title since 2002, and 14-0 last season.

Grandview returns nine lettermen and four starters off last year’s team, including two-time all-district and All-Johnson County selections Dametrious Crownover, Travis Massey and Braeden Lawson.

“Our strength will be our experience and our size,” Grandview coach Joel Moore said. “We only lost one player off last year’s team.”

But that one player is a big loss in the form of three-year starting point guard Michael Masella, last year’s All-Johnson County MVP and a two-time all-district MVP.

Over the past couple seasons, Moore said several times that Masella was the driving force of the team, a true floor general. And the Zebras’ fourth-year head coach said overcoming the loss of Masella to graduation will be one of the key factors in how successful the 2019-20 campaign is.

“We have to replace an all-state point guard,” he said.

After making somewhat of a surprise run to the state tournament in 2017-18, the Zebras were loaded for another run at state last season, but their playoff run ended in the third round with a 48-47 loss to Malakoff in the final seconds of the game.

This year, Massey is expected to take on even more of a role with the graduation of Masella, as the 6-foot-7 forward looks to build on being an all-region player a year ago after he averaged 15.6 points per game and seven rebounds per game.

Already a two-time all-county superlative selection as the 2017-18 newcomer and the 2018-19 defensive MVP, Crownover scored 12.7 points per game with 8.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game last season, and those numbers should easily improve during Crownover’s junior campaign.

Lawson, a two-time All-Johnson County selection, averaged 7.3 points per game a year ago and is Grandview’s top 3-point threat.

Jacob Patterson returns as the fourth member of last year’s starting lineup, and he was an All-Johnson County and all-district second-team selection a year ago.

Other returners include Jake Bolgiano, Luke Drollinger, Sam Drollinger, Dane Jentsch, and Noah Patterson, while Ben Russell will play a big role as a newcomer.

Grandview opened the 2019-20 season — without Crownover, Jentsch, Massey and Jacob Patterson, who are still on the football team — with a 58-42 win over Bowie on Saturday. In the win, Russell lead a balanced scoring attack with 13 points while Sam Drollinger scored 12 points, Luke Drollinger added 11 points, and Noah Patterson chipped in nine points.

The Zebras are scheduled to host NCTA at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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