Adams Central Flying Jets
Adams Central will be led by Issac Schultz, the reigning ACAC Tournament MVP, who averaged 17 points and seven rebounds a season ago. His running mate Micah McClure (11 ppg/6 apg) will make a great part of a one two punch with Schultz. But Adams Central returns so much more for 22nd year head coach Aaron McClure. Ryan Tester will also return in the starting lineup after a huge football season and will be the best defender in this lineup. back too is last year’s 6th man Trace Mallers, a talented sophomore forward in Braylend Reber and senior Max Hamilton.
Joining the core group will be three players up from the JV including seniors Kolton Littler and Carter Steele. Junior Cade Van de Weg will also see time.
“We have all the pieces for another good season in competing for the conference and sectional. We have the ability to score both inside and outside. I think we’ll be an improved team shooting from the perimeter which should take some pressure off our players inside,” coach Aaron McClure said. “Defensively, our zone should be pretty good as we’ve got a lot of length and quickness. A lot of times our defense can help us generate transition offense. We will have a lot of tough games this season on our schedule so we look forward to some fun environments for high school basketball.”
Woodlan will be looking to replace three multi-year starters but the two that do return will have them in the drivers seat to contend for an ACAC crown. Braden Smith (13.7 ppg) is one of the area’s best sharpshooters while junior Trey Yoder (13 ppg/8.2 rpg) was one of the biggest breakout players in the area last season. Lincoln Sparks (2.5 apg) and Luke Meyer return as well in the senior class while the junior class will see the returns of all around athlete Drew Fleek.
The depth will come in the form of a solid junior class with multiple players up who saw mostly JV time last season. 6-foot-7 Oliver Adams and 6-foot-5 Zach Scheiderer will really help the Warriors inside. Mason Moore, Jayse Kuntz and Ty Louden will add depth in the backcourt.
“We will be led by one of the best 1-2 punches in the area with Braden Smith and Trey Yoder, but we will need others around them to step up and take advantage of the new opportunities,” coach John Baker said. “We have many capable upperclassmen that look primed to do just that. For us to be successful this season, we need to build on what made us successful over the last few seasons. That would be for us to continue to hang our hat on being sound on the defensive end and be able to score the basketball in a variety of ways.”
THE OTHERS (Listed Alphabetically)
Longtime successful area coach Craig Teagle takes the helm at Bluffton and it will be interesting to see the returning Tigers adjust to the tempo and game planning of Teagle as they try to raise their stock in the ACAC. Tucker Jenkins (15.6 ppg/7.8 rpg) returns to take the lead, a physical and hard nosed player who was arguably Bluffton’s best last season. Brothers Hunter and Fletcher Wenger are back with Hunter (6.8 ppg) the second leading returning scorer. Eli Garrett and Andrew Hunt both return to help bolster the backcourt.
With a new system in place, it could be open for a number of players to step up onto the varsity level and into important roles. Kaleb Green, Ben Maggard, Jude Baumgartner, Cam Williams, Nolan Lambert, Declan Grieser and Axton Beste could all compete for time after most of them saw a little varsity action last season.
“The Tigers must become great on defense, play together on offense, take great shots and eliminate careless turnovers,” Teagle said. “It will take some time to understand and execute a new defensive and offensive system. We hope by the second half of the season that we will be able to compete with the teams on the schedule.”
Another new face leading the way comes at Heritage where first time head coach Kyle Sovine will look to guide a pretty new looked Heritage team that graduated the program’s best scorer of all-time. Returning though will be floor general Kobe Meyer (8.8 ppg/2.4 apg) to lead this group after he led the Patriots to success on the football field this fall. D’Vontaye Washington (4.3 rpg) will be critical on the interior if the Patriots want to compete in a big and physical ACAC. Also returning is sharpshooter Landon Lybarger and forwards Caleb Abbott and Braden Walter.
2026 guard Taurean Brown moves in as a transfer and he has quality experience and a defensive grit that will be helpful. Other newcomers for the Patriots include an athletic win in Lantae Cassel Jr. as well as junior guard Cam Rauner and senior forward Noah Redmon.
“Heritage has a nice mix of upper classmen and under classmen returning, we are excited to get the season started in Monroeville. Our record was 13-12 last year and we are working very hard to improve that record for the upcoming season,” Sovine said. “We have a lot of talented kids hungry to succeed. With a new coach in town, expect a different style of play.”
Never count out Jay County. And after early returns from Bounce’s spies, there is a theory that the Patriots could still compete for the title in the ACAC this season. 6-foot-7 sophomore Gradin Swoveland and 6-4 junior Ben Crouch are both back with the most significant scoring impact from a season ago. The rest of the Patriot rotation is likely to be closed out by four seniors with Parker Nichols expected to run the point. Fellow seniors Liam Garringer, Trevin Dunnington and another 6-foot-7 player in Wesley Bihn are all expected to contribute.
South Adams went 4-18 last season but will be built on with the inclusion of Owen Wanner to the lineup; adding an athlete of his caliber is huge for the Starfires after he scored 21 points in the team’s scrimmage. Ty Lehman had a great freshman season, scoring 13.6 points per game to go with 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game; he could be in line to be one of the area’s biggest breakout stars this season. Conner Fear (2.3 ppg) is the only other returning player who saw more significant time last season while Derek McKean and Noah Hunley will see substantial time. Isaac Dee, who saw some action last season will be big off the Starfire bench
The Raiders will return leading scorer Chander Oswalt (15.5 ppg) as well as Evan Pennington (9.4 ppg/1.1 spg) and those returns will be important after going 6-16 last season. The 6-0 shooting guard Oswalt scored in single digits just three times last season while having nine games where he hit three or more triples, including a 7 of 10 effort against South Adams. The Raiders are set to lose just 19.4 of their 49.7 points per game to graduation. Perrin Gates and Andrew Aker also each return into bigger roles after each playing in 21 or more games last season.
BOUNCE’S ACAC PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Adams Central
3. Jay County
6. South Adams
7. Southern Wells
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