There aren’t a lot of players with significant varsity experience, the backcourt will be undersized and the guys in the middle are young. But none of those things are deterring Jonathan Alder boys basketball coach Brent Cahill from being optimistic about the upcoming 2017-18 season.
Cahill likes the collection of players on his roster and more importantly their commitment to working hard and getting better.
“We’re young,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of experience, but this is probably our most committed group of kids we’ve had since we’ve been here. These guys have put in a lot of work in the off-season and have gotten better.”
This version of the Pioneers will be lead by a collection of relatively experienced guards including junior Jacob Koenig (5-10). The sharp-shooter has been a varsity starter for a couple seasons and will step to the forefront as a team leader this winter.
He will be joined in the backcourt by senior Cameron Androw (6-2) and sophomore Jackie Santa-Emma (5-10). The three-headed guard trio will run a Pioneers offense that’s built around patience and less on getting up and down the court.
Alder has built a reputation under Cahill as a squad that runs a number of set plays in the half-court and doesn’t get up and down the floor all that often. With three speedy guards this team has the ability to run but will continue to be selective of when it runs.
The three guards all have the ability to shoot it well from the perimeter which should help spread opposing defenses.
“I hope we shoot the ball better with more efficiency, when you make shots you make everything look better,” Cahill said.
The team will welcome the addition of a little more size in the middle with sophomores Henry Walker (6-5) and Daniel Heinig (6-5). The problem is those two big guys are making their debut on the varsity roster and after their interior size the team gets pretty small.
“We’re not an overly big or deep team,” the coach said. “We’re going to have to use our athleticism, execute and defend. We’ll get up and down the floor when we can but we’re going to have to be solid defensively.”
Alder will compete in the Central Buckeye Conference (CBC) this year which means the squad will face a number of bigger schools.
“In the CBC we aren’t one of the bigger schools, there are two D-I’s and the rest of the schools are D-II, this is a lot more physical league than the (Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference),” Cahill said.
The Pioneers will continue to play some of the better teams in the Central District even though none of the teams in the new league are in the Central District. They will play one of the best D-II in the state in Columbus South, as well as Bishop Watterson and Fairbanks.
In the CBC, the coach expects Bellefontaine and Springfield Shawnee to be strong as well as Tecumseh and Kenton Ridge. He believes his team can be in the mix for a league crown if it continues to improve.
“We’ve got a good group of kids, it’s a fun group to watch. I think we’ll be pretty good.”
The rest of the roster includes seniors Josh Ellis (5-8) and Jaron Wheelbarger (5-9); juniors Luke Shepherd (6-3), Cameron Headings (5-9) and Mike Ferrito (6-0); sophomore Drew Begin (6-0); and freshman Jackson Izzard (5-10).
Reach Chris Miles at 740-852-1616, ext. 1618 or via Twitter @MadPressSports.