SIDNEY — Division IV boys basketball in Southwest Ohio runs through Shelby County. Shelby County Athletic League teams have won 11 Div. IV district titles since 2010 and have won a regional three times to earn a state berth.
It’s been harder to win the SCAL title than it has been to win a district title. While Houston, Fort Loramie, Jackson Center and Russia have won district titles in the last eight seasons, the SCAL races have largely been dominated by one team each year. And in recent years, that’s been Russia.
The Raiders have won five consecutive SCAL titles, winning outright from 2014 to 2017. Last year, though, the league title was shared by Fort Loramie, Anna and Russia — all of which advanced to district final games.
Though many SCAL teams lose their leading scorers from last year, it’s highly likely at least one will be playing in a regional come March. They could be joined by loaded Anna and Sidney squads, which will look to make long runs in Divisions III and I, respectively.
Below is a list of five area players and five area teams to watch.
Five players to watch:
1. Andre Gordon, Sidney, 6-2, sr., guard: How often have Andre Gordons come around Shelby County? They don’t come around the entire Dayton-area often, let alone Shelby County.
Gordon signed a letter of intent earlier this month to play collegiately at Virginia Tech. He’ll be the first Dayton-area player to play for an ACC team since Luke Kennard, who played a Duke earlier this decade before graduating early and heading to the NBA.
Gordon scored 575 points last year, and with a similar performance, he’ll become the school’s all-time leading scorer this year. He also averaged 5.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals per game.
2. Ratez Roberts, Sidney, 6-3, sr., forward: Roberts is one of the most athletic players in the 20-team Greater Western Ohio Conference. He averaged 11.6 points per game last season and shot 54.6 percent from the field. He’ll likely score more this year to pick up the production in the post after the loss of center Devan Rogers to graduation.
Roberts also averaged 8.3 rebounds and a GWOC-best 3.5 blocks per game. His best game of the season came last year in a sectional final against eventual district champion Springfield, when he scored 19 points, had five blocks and 12 rebounds.
3. Griffin Doseck, Anna, 6-5, sr., forward: As for most teams, it’s hard to single out one player. That’s especially the case for Anna, which will look to get the ball around to many guys this year.
But Doseck should be among the team’s leading scorers again this season. He averaged 10.8 points per game for the Rockets last year and a team-high 6.4 rebounds. Anna coach Nathan Barhorst said the team is looking for him to lead this year.
4. Jordan York, Russia, sr., 6-3, post: Like Anna, the Raiders will likely have a balanced effort this season, as last year. York looks to lead the charge, though. He averaged nine points per game and can shoot in the post or from beyond the arc.
5. Jarod Schulze, Minster, sr., 6-9, center: Schulze is the tallest player in the area and has the skills to be a collegiate post player. He averaged 12 points and three rebounds per game last year and should be among the Midwest Athletic Conference’s leaders this year.
Five teams to watch:
1. Sidney: Sidney returns four starters from a team that narrowly lost to Springfield in a sectional final last year. The Yellow Jackets look to have a deeper bench this year than last and will play at a faster pace.
Though Gordon has been practicing with the team only for a couple of weeks after re-enrolling, the team has rolled in its scrimmages since.
Sidney could pick up a few losses in regular season with a tough nonconference schedule, but they should contend with Vandalia-Butler for the GWOC American North title and be ready to make a longer-than-normal tournament run.
2. Anna: The Rockets are deep and have had area basketball circles buzzing since winning one of Fort Loramie’s shootouts last summer. Aside from Doseck, junior guards Riley Huelskamp and Bart Bixler return from last season, and the team has several newcomers who will make big contributions right away.
3. Fort Loramie: The Redskins lose most of last season’s team and will get a late start after the football squad’s state semifinal run. There’s no reason to think they won’t be among the SCAL’s best and Division IV’s best come March.
Junior guard Nick Brandewie should get more shoots this year, as will Eli Rosengarten and Nathan Raterman, who had big games off the bench.
4. Russia: Russia has the height and athleticism needed to compete for a sixth-straight SCAL title. Aside from York, 6-5 Daniel Kearns and 6-2 Carter Francis are returnees, and 6-2 Will Sherman looks to see playing time. With one of the area’s best point guards back to run the offense in Mason Dapore, the Raiders won’t have problems moving the ball.
5. Minster: It’s now or never for Minster to have a breakout year in the MAC. The Wildcats were 15-8 last year and have four returning starters. Aside from Schulze, senior forward Cody Frericks (6-6) returns, as do senior guards Mike Ketner and Jack Heitbrink.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.