Westview is coming off a special pair of years as they enter a little bit of a rebuild, with many players shifting focus and role expectation into the 2019-2020 season. The Warriors made it to the Regional final last spring, falling to eventual Class 2A state champion Andrean after a nasty team wide bout with food poisoning. It ended a run many thought could end with a state title, coming one year after losing in semi state to, yes, eventual state champion Oak Hill.
Do all roads to a state title still lead through Topeka?
“Every team is the same: they expect to win, we expect to win. We’ve been through a lot of times where we’ve lost players and we don’t expect to roll over because somebody left. We think we are going to compete really well,” said Westview coach Rob Yoder.
With 20-plus wins in six of their last 10 seasons (with just one losing season mixed in), Westview has become a power in the NECC and Class 2A. This season, they will have to play without some critical pieces from their last two seasons, including big names like Elijah Hales and Nick Rensberger. But Yoder doesn’t see that big of a drop-off coming Westview’s way. With a system built to promote the next guy up, the Warriors have done well in previous seasons with underclass player development.
“I think there are obviously a few guys people are going to notice are not there with Elijah and Nick, guys that started for four years for us. But Charlie [Yoder] is a guy is really experienced obviously and we have a lot of guys that played at crucial moments of our season,” Rob Yoder says. “Now, their role may have changed but they’ve been through those positions before. Yes, we lost guys that logged heavy minutes for us, we do have some experienced guys coming back.”
Leading that charge is senior Charlie Yoder, who was part of the core Indiana Junior All-Star team and a member of Outside the Huddle’s All-Area team a season ago. Yoder made an argument of being the area’s best all around scorer, averaging 23.7 points per game and often doing so against upper echelon competition. Two of his best games came in New Castle as part of the Hall of Fame Classic against Valparaiso and Center Grove.
“I think that Charlie has been a really special scorer and it seems like the best teams that he plays against are his best games,” Rob Yoder noted.
Charlie Yoder is a special all around talent, posting 6.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 steals per game to go with his scoring output. He led Westview in all of those categories.
“I think that he’s gotten pretty used to being keyed on. Now the people around him are different so we are going to have to take advantage of, if people help on him too much, that we get really good shots up,” Rob Yoder said. “He has a knack for scoring, I think he is going to be able to score, most importantly we need to make sure we can take advantage of defenses that commit too many resources to one area.”
There will be guys to take advantage of those junk defenses that come Charlie Yoder’s way. Drew Litwiller is a big time returner who was essentially Westview’s sixth man a year ago, playing major minutes and was the team’s fifth leading scorer with 3.7 points per game while shooting 64.3 percent inside the arc.
“Just a good all around scorer, really good around the basket. Also, he’s naturally a perimeter player he’s just really good around the basket as well,” Rob Yoder says of Litwiller.
Other guys who have some varsity experience include excellent shooter Blake Egli, who will get the chance to log heavy minutes as a senior. Mason Yoder, cousin to Charlie, has blossomed athletically and will be expected to be a big help rebounding and on the defensive end. Twins Luke and Lyndon Miller have been developing in the Westview system and will be expected to contribute.
“I’m not as big on ‘kids are going to get tired and can’t play.’ If you are in shape, you can play. But it is nice to give you options for defending people and also for how people are defending you. I think our team really does have quite a few options,” Rob Yoder said.
He also feels that there are more guys that will have chances to prove they can play and contribute on the varsity level, saying they are pretty balanced behind any returners.
Junior Ben Burkett has been playing excellent this fall according to Yoder, while Drew Miller, Caleb Cory and Brady Yoder could all have a chance to help contribute.
Charlie Yoder. No really, what Westview does is always clinical and impressive. But to have a player of Charlie Yoder’s caliber makes up for a lot of the rebuilding this group will have to do after back to back years advancing to semi state and then the Regional finals. Westview is always a hard out no matter their roster.
WHY NOT HIGHER?
The rebuilding factor is a still a factor, especially with a tough NECC expected. Until the new group of guys make a couple of statements, the Warriors can’t climb any higher.
DEC. 6 VERSUS CHURUBUSCO
Are the Eagles the new standard in the NECC? This is a very quick look and partial conference decider as just the Warriors second game. But at Westview, in that gym, all bets may be off. This is going to be a thrilling one to watch.
“We are in a unique situation, there is no doubt. We are very fortunate. Our kids, probably growing up in it, they don’t realize really what they have until they get out,” Rob Yoder said of the specialness of game night at Westview. “We’ve told a lot of groups, if you don’t go to at least a mid major or higher, you are going to play in bigger crowds here than you will in college.”
PLAYER TO WATCH
BLAKE EGLI, SENIOR
When teams start to collapse on Charlie Yoder, there are likely going to be a heavy amount of shot options for the Warriors. Egli, as a senior, is going to be put in a position to lead and carry his team through various spurts all season. There will be plenty of opportunities for Egli to shine and make plays and he has the ability to hit big shots.