SIDNEY — Lehman Catholic second-year boys basketball coach Pat Carlisle looks for improvement on last year’s 8-15 season.
Carlisle, a successful coach at Columbus State Community College, who also coached at Vandalia-Butler and has been an assistant at Wittenberg University, feels like there are advantages to having a full season under his belt at Lehman.
“We did lose four seniors that between them made up a quite a bit of the playing time last year,” Carlisle said. “But, as far as relationships and things like that with the players, we are ahead of last year.”
Carlisle has four returning lettermen and four more players that will make up an eight-man rotation this year.
The team’s top two scorers last season — 6-foot-1 senior Brendan O’Leary and 6-2 junior Luke Frantz — are back. Joining them will be 6-2 senior Gabe Knapke and 5-10 senior Drew Barhorst.
The four newcomers are 5-9 junior Landen McIver, 6-1 sophomore Michael McFarland, 5-10 sophomore David Rossman and 6-5 freshman Justin Chapman.
“In a perfect world, all eight will see equal playing time,” Carlisle said.
Chapman will provide the Cavaliers with some much needed size.
“Hopefully, Justin Chapman will adjust to the high school game,” Carlisle said. “He has been doing well and he gives us some size. In Division IV, size is not as important. We will use a lot of four-guard looks.”
Which means the Cavaliers will look to push the ball when the opportunity is there and mix it up on defense.
“You have to (mix it up on defense),” Carlisle said. “You can’t just play one defense. We will show some man and some zone looks.”
Carlisle expects the Northwest Central Conference to be improved this season.
“I think it will be much stronger than last year,” Carlisle said. “Along with Perry and Upper Scioto Valley, who were strong last year, I think you will have teams like Ridgemont and Hardin Northern who were playing a lot of young players last year and have everybody back.”
Lehman finished third in the conference a year ago.
“We had a real strong showing last year, finishing third out of nine teams,” Carlisle said. “We hope to do well again. The conference is definitely on the rise this year.”
Lehman will again playing in the WPTW Holiday Classic at Piqua, getting two games in on the same floor they will play in the sectional tournament at. Lehman will play Troy Christian in the opening round of the holiday tournament this year.
“Hopefully, that will benefit us in the postseason,” Carlisle said. “Because the sectional is a really tough sectional.”
Carlisle said he is happy with what he has seen so far.
“The numbers are up a little this year,” he said. “We have 18 boys out. They have been working really hard and will represent Lehman well.”
Riverside to rely on newcomers
Riverside lost all of its starters and most of its scoring from last season’s 7-15 squad and will be looking for new players to step up this year.
“This year, we are going to be very inexperienced,” fourth-year Riverside coach Seth Bodenmiller said. “We graduated nine seniors last year and five of them played some substantial minutes. With only two returning letterwinners, I will be looking for them to be leaders on both ends of the floor.”
Senior Wade Auflick and junior John Zumberger are the team’s returning letterwinners. Auflick, a 6-4 forward, averaged 4.6 points and three rebounds per game last year and Zumberger, a 5-11 guard, averaged 5.3 points.
The squad has a host of varsity newcomers looking to earn playing time: 5-9 senior forward Denver Jackson, 5-7 senior guard Scott Wilkinson, 6-2 junior forward Kaden Burk, 5-10 junior guard Ethan Jackson, 6-0 junior forward Kale Long, 5-8 sophomore guard Brody Rhoads, 6-1 sophomore guard Landon Stewart and 6-1 freshman forward Walker Whitaker.
“Coming into our program, we do have some decent size and athleticism, so I think that we’ll be able to compete with a majority of the teams on our schedule,” Bodenmiller said. “Right now, though, we just want to come in each day, work hard, and get better as individuals so that our team can progress as a whole.”
Hodge said he expects Lima Perry, Ridgemont and Hardin Northern to be at the top of the NWCC standings — but said the league should be highly competitive.
“Much like us, a lot of the schools in the NWCC lost some pretty key players from last year’s teams, so I think it will be pretty well balanced,” Bodenmiller said. “… We are looking forward to challenging everyone.”