One thing is for sure…when the London High School boys basketball team shows up next season for the start of conditioning the squad will look nothing like the team it fielded this winter.
The Red Raiders will lose eight seniors to graduation off a team that went 11-11 this season and lost a first-round Division II tournament game to neighboring Jonathan Alder. Those seniors accounted for basically every point, rebound and assist the team had this season and coach Darren Long knows that there will be plenty of work to do to put a competitive squad on the floor next season.
“When someone says rebuild, that’s exactly what we’re going to have to do,” London coach Darren Long said. “We lose 100 percent of our offense.”
The 2013-14 season was supposed to be one of big things for the Red Raiders. With so many talented and experienced players back, things were set up nicely for a team competing for the first time in the new Mid-State League Ohio Division.
But for as dangerous as the Raiders were on the offensive end of the floor, their lapses defensively and inability to get stops when they needed them prevented the team from reaching their lofty goals.
“It’s about defense, that’s what wins games,” Long said. “We just weren’t as good as we could’ve been defensively.”
The Red Raiders did manage to put two players on the D-II All-Central District teams. Senior point guard Brok Bennett was a second team selection, while shooting guard Zac Carey was a third-team pick. Both players averaged right around 20 points a game for the season.
Both players got the bulk of the defensive attention when the team took the floor. It wasn’t uncommon to have teams play a triangle-and-two defense or a box-and-one with all of their attention on those two players.
In the season-ending loss to the Pioneers, Alder coach Brent Cahill said his team’s philosophy was to let someone other than Carey and Bennett beat them.
“We did a great job on those two guys,” Cahill said. “We really showed a lot of help off of their other guys and took our chances with them beating us. Those two guys are just so good that you have to give something to take something away and we just didn’t want those two guys to beat us.”
When the Raiders were at the their very best they not only got strong offensive nights from Carey and Bennett, but also from senior guard Zach Anderson. Anderson was usually the beneficiary of the extra attention received by his backcourt mates.
In addition to the team’s top three scorers, London will also lose starting big man Seth Roberts, his backup Cameron Clark, as well as guards Zach Newman and Dylan Miller and key wing reserve Justin Long.
The only other players on the final varsity roster expected to return are sophomore point guard Kamhar Jones, junior guard Alex Cox and sophomore forward Zane Foucht.
The Red Raiders JV team was 8-13 this season, which included victories in their last five games. The replacements for the bevy of graduates off of this year’s team will likely come from this group of players. The school’s freshman team was a solid 11-7 this season.
Chris Miles can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 18 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.