WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW: New faces take court for Alder boys
By Chris Miles
The uniforms will be the same, but the bodies inside of them will have a completely different look.
A year after the Jonathan Alder boys basketball team racked up an impressive 18-3 record and advanced all the way to a Division II district championship game, the Pioneers enter the 2012-13 season with virtually a new team.
Gone are the 10 seniors who led the squad to it’s lofty spot as the top seed in the Central District a year ago. In their place are a lot of players who have yet to prove themselves on the varsity level. In fact the squad has just one player who has ever logged a single varsity minute.
“We had a lot of turnover this year,” Alder coach Brent Cahill said. “We lost a lot of guys and that presents challenges, but our kids are pretty resilient. The goal is to get better every day.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge going from a team that had 10 seniors to one with just one player with varsity experience is not having a proven leader or group of leaders who have been through the wars at the varsity level. But despite this void Cahill has a collection of older athletes he’s putting his trust in.
The Pioneers are going to count on the likes of senior forward Mike Yoder (6-2) and guard Mason Will (5-11) to provide the leadership. The two of them have been named captains, with Yoder being the only one to have played during a varsity game last year.
Will and another senior, forward Collin Mullett (6-3) both saw time a year ago on the JV squad, but will surely be varsity contributors this winter.
Even through the names and faces have changed, Cahill insists that the Pioneers primary goals will remain in place.
“Our approach changes a little bit because we don’t have all of that experience,” he said. “But we’re not changing our principal of what we do, we just have to tailor what we do offensively and defensively to the personnel we have.”
Expect this year’s Pioneers to be more of a team that walks the ball upcourt as opposed to the one that looked to get out and run the last couple seasons. There still isn’t a lot of size on the roster, but Alder expects to be able to mix and match various roster pieces.
“We’re interchangeable,” the coach said. “We’ve got a number of guys that can do a lot of different things. They can handle the ball and shoot it pretty well.”
In addition to the seniors who will be looked upon to be leaders, the team also welcomes in a collection of sophomores in Declan Thomas (6-2), Luke Nees (6-2) and Derek Parker (6-0), all of which will get a chance to show what they can do this season.
Don’t expect the Pioneers coaching staff to lower its goals any time soon. With one last year of being independent, the team doesn’t have a league title to shoot for, so aiming for a return to the district final is a main focus.
“The short term goal is to improve every day,” Cahill said. “As a program the goal is to get to a district final. We haven’t won one since 1979, we’re not in a league until next year so the only way these guys can get their name up on the wall in the gym is by getting to a district championship game. The more we get into the better chance we have of winning one.”