The Madison-Plains boys basketball team has been through its share of headaches this fall and the season hasn’t even started yet.
First the Golden Eagles were hit with the stunning death of head coach Jeff Spradlin. That was followed by the entire school district being hit by a serious case of whooping cough, causing the cancellation of school for more than a week and the inability to practice or play games, delaying the start of the season by two weeks.
But while the team has been hit hard by circumstances beyond their control, interim head coach Nathan Warner said his players are taking things in stride and he’s expecting them to come out of this even stronger.
“This group of kids is great,” Warner said. “They’ve got a great work ethic. I really don’t have to ask them to work harder, they enjoy being together and have really been working together as a team. I think this is going to be a fun year.”
Warner takes over a team that graduated eight seniors off of a squad that advanced all the way to the Division III district semifinal, but there is still a core group of guys returning who played a lot last season.
The team leaders figure to be juniors Hunter Butin (5-11) and Eli Williams (5-10), a pair of sweet shooting guards who played major roles on the team last winter. They along with senior forward Dylan Voltz (6-3) have emerged as the go-to players.
“Those guys are our emotional leaders,” Warner said. “We lost a lot of seniors off of last year’s team, so we’re still pretty young, but I really like these guys.”
The rest of the varsity squad includes first-year player in senior Dylan Crace (6-0) and a whole host of athletic and quick juniors including, Brandon Gartin (5-11), Connor Cooley (6-0), Cody Jones (5-11), Shane Folden (6-1) and Kenkade Snyder (5-11). The team also includes athletic sophomores Jacob (5-11) and John Vallery (5-11) as well as Zach Bayless (5-10).
There’s not a lot of size on the Golden Eagles roster, so Warner will incorporate the same run-and-gun style Spradlin’s teams played with so well.
“These guys love to play uptempo so we’re going to stay with that,” the coach said. “We’ve got a lot of athletic guys who can run and that’s the way we’re going to play.”
Madison-Plains High School moves into the new Mid-State League Ohio Division and figures to see an increase in the number of quality teams they’ll see on a regular basis.
“Columbus Academy, Grandview and Worthington Christian are three very good teams every year and we have the two county rivals in London and West Jeff so we know those are going to be tough games,” Warner said. “We are going to have to bring our “A” game every night.
“We are in a very competitive league.”