Are you ready for boys basketball season? With the girls just kicking things off, that officially means we are in the home stretch towards Thanksgiving. Turkey, cranberry sauce and boys high school basketball are on the agenda for that week.
As we get closer, Outside the Huddle will be kicking off our official preview coverage for the boys hoops season.
Everyone has something to prove in some way when a new season starts. But there are five teams that stand out to me more than any others. Five teams who really have something critical that needs to be watched this season to see if it stacks up to past expectations.
If there was any doubt to what Bishop Luers could climb to so freshly into the Coach Fonso White era, it should all be gone. While we were all focused on a Snider/Homestead/Carroll power struggle last season, the Knights swooped in and claimed the SAC title. It came through some masterful wins where Luers really stood out in closing tough games.
Now comes the turn. The Knights lost several key pieces to graduation and a lot of their height. A sectional loss to Leo without Demarcus Hudson in the lineup proved that height mattered. So what can White line up to try and control the inside and stay an upper-tier team in the SAC?
Naylon And Nick Thompson are both very long and athletic. They are game changers but they cannot do this alone. White’s mission has been to build up his feeder system to the varsity level and although this is early in his tenure, they have to step up some now.
The individualized focus and demeanor of Westview basketball has changed. That is no knock, it has to change because it worked with a player at the skill level of Charlie Yoder.
Now they have to spread the floor out. That demeanor and approach is a major point too. New coach Ed Bentley and former coach Rod Yoder are two different beasts, both really fantastic coaches that command drive from their teams. But when you’ve had a coach as long as Westview had Yoder, you fall into habits even if they are good ones.
The Warriors return a pretty huge core to be converted to Bentley’s style and aggression. This will be an interesting test because turnovers don’t always happen so easy. But at Westview, the expectations are to win so it is going to have to be sped up.
The door has opened for South Adams to take control of the ACAC. Just as planned? Two years ago, it took some lumps by playing a lineup that was ONLY freshmen and sophomores and last year took a leap forward with that group.
Much like on the football field, the Starfires are built for this season because the classes of 2021 and 2022 are just so athletic. With Jay County wanting back into the picture at the front of the conference, Bluffton still right there wanting a repeat title and a lot of younger teams in the ACAC, can South Adams stand out as they should?
A big part of that will be the transition to basketball season. It is still expected that the Starfires will make a deep postseason run in football and the majority of their hoop stars are in full football mode. Getting James Arnold or Trey Schoch onto the court healthy and not exhausted is a major point of importance.
Then there is Drew Stutzman. He was missed majorly last winter and there are rumors he may not play as a senior. A lot of the Starfires success this winter may hinge on how the rest of this fall plays out.
This isn’t to say that Northrop won’t have depth. Coach Rod Chamble has been able to develop new players to play pivotal roles on the varsity level during his entire tenure. But for the first time in Chamble’s time at Northrop, the depth at the top of the lineup isn’t what it used to be.
Behind the capable hands of Khamani Smith, there is no clear answer on who the next man up will be. Could sophomore James Mallory be due for a big role?
There are more questions about the Bruins than there are answers until we get to see them on the court. They appear, by social media viewing standards, to be putting in a lot of fundamental work this preseason. How will it translate beginning the week of Thanksgiving?
You’ve just graduated three of the best players to ever play in your program. They covered it all: shooting, slashing, passing, rim protection, size, physicality. And now, with the conference not slowing down, you still have to compete in the NECC.
That is the issue that befalls Prairie Heights now. The Panthers proved they could compete with the best of the best and now some of those role players just have to take over. While seniors Seth Troyer and Gavin Culler are going to have to take things over, it will be underclassmen who have to continue the drive the Panthers have had the past two seasons.
Look for this to be a possible breakout for sophomore Chase Bachelor, because it has to be. He showed as a varsity starter last season that he has the intensity and tempo down. You need it to spread like wildfire and this kid is a fire starter.
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