2022-23 Shelby County boys basketball preview: Sidney looks to keep up success


Fort Loramie, Russia return most players from last season

By Bryant Billing - [email protected]



Sidney freshman guard Julius Spradling dribbles with pressure from Piqua's Dre'Sean Roberts during a Miami Valley League crossover game on Monday at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Spradling is one of four key returnees for the Yellow Jackets.

Sidney freshman guard Julius Spradling dribbles with pressure from Piqua's Dre'Sean Roberts during a Miami Valley League crossover game on Monday at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Spradling is one of four key returnees for the Yellow Jackets.


Bryant Billing | Sidney Daily News

Fort Loramie’s Caleb Maurer shoots during a Division IV district semifinal against Jackson Center on Feb. 25 at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Maurer is one of seven returning seniors for the Redskins.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Brayden Monnin shoots over a Botkins player during a Division IV district semifinal on Feb. 26 at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Monnin is one of six key returnees for the Raiders.


Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney junior wing Sam Reynolds dribbles with pressure from Greenville’s Million Bryant during the first half of a Miami Valley League game on Feb. 11 in Sidney. Reynolds, who was a first team all-MVL selection last year, is one of four returnees for the Yellow Jackets, which finished 18-5 and won the overall league title last year. 


Bryant Billing | Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY — Sidney coach John Willoughby said he’s a “goals guy,” but doesn’t set goals.

How does that work?

“I don’t like to state every year something like, ‘The league title is our goal,” Willoughby said after a practice on Friday. “What I like to say is that we should be competitive every year, no matter talent or whatever. We should be competitive every year.

“If that means winning the league, that means winning the league. But I like to think no matter who we play and wherever we play, my teams are ready to play against anybody. That’s kind of the way I coach. I try to get them competitive, to have the desire to go out and compete, and hopefully that’s good enough.”

It was good enough last year, as Sidney finished 18-5 and earned the overall Miami Valley League title for the second time in three years.

While the Yellow Jackets aren’t putting a repeat up on their goals board, they have enough returning to be considered among the MVL’s heavyweights again.

Sidney lost almost all players to graduation after a 10-9 campaign in 2020-21, but last year’s group of newcomers elevated the team back to the top of the MVL.

Sidney lost four players to graduation from last year, including two post players. But four key players return, including three starters.

“We’re not going to be very big, but they’re all returning lettermen, and they had a great season last year and will be counted on to do more this year,” Willoughby, who is entering his seventh season at Sidney after 30 years at Houston, said.

Senior 6-foot-2 wing guard Sam Reynolds is back after earning first team all-MVL honors. He averaged 15.8 points, seven rebounds and 2.7 assists per game a year ago.

“He was one of the top players in the league last year, and he needs to be that top player again this year,” Willoughby said.

Senior guard Myles Vordemark and sophomore guard Julius Spradling are also returning starters. Vordemark averaged 9.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists. Spradling averaged 7.9 points, three rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.3 steals.

Spradling (5-9) will play at point guard full time while Vordemark (6-0) will play at guard and in the post.

“Myles is so versatile, and since we’re not very big, he’ll be our 4 man, where he distributes, and hopefully the matchups will be in our favor, if they have to match him with a big,” Willoughby said. “If they match Myles up with a guard, we’re going to send him inside.”

Junior forward Mitchell Davis (6-4) will start in the post this season. He averaged four points, two rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game last season playing off the bench, including sparingly in the first half of the year as he recovered from a nose injury.

“I think he’s going to be the key, if he can hold his own and be a threat inside,” Willoughby said. “If he can get the big critical rebounds that come down at the end of games, that will put us right there at the top.”

Sophomore guard A’zon Steele transferred from Lehman Catholic and will start for the Yellow Jackets this season. He averaged 8.6 points and 2.2 assists as a freshman for the Cavaliers.

“He’s a good offensive threat,” Willoughby said. “He and Julius are really quick with the ball, and he’s a really good shooter. A’zon has put a lot of time with his game, and I’m hoping it pays off for him.”

Sophomore Jayce Daniel moves up from the junior varsity squad, and Willoughby expects he’ll see a lot of playing time, as will senior guard Jy Foster-Wheeler, who returns to the program after not playing a year ago. Willoughby said Foster-Wheeler was a key JV player two years ago and is showing promise this season.

“Jayce Daniel is a real good shooter with length with his arms,” Willoughby said. “He’s still working on his defense and is getting there, but he can deflect a lot of passes with his length. Looking for him to be an offensive threat.

“… Foster-Wheeler is a great defender. He’ll be a post player, even though he’s only 5-11. He’s so active. Great defender. Around the basket offensively, he’s pretty creative.”

Seniors Elijah VanHook and Lucas Marlow will round out the roster.

Sidney’s four nonconference opponents remain the same: Tecumseh, Bellefontaine, Northmont and St. Marys.

Willoughby said Troy, Tippecanoe, West Carrollton and Piqua should be among the MVL’s top teams.

“I like Piqua’s guards,” Willoughby said. “Tipp should be good again. Troy has three outstanding guards. West Carrollton has been good, but they may have lost a few players (by transferring out), so we’ll see.

“… New teams are coming to the forefront. I hope we’re coached well enough to be there and compete every night.

“That’s the thing about this league, you’ve got to be ready every Tuesday and Friday. Playing 18 league games out of our 22 games, there’s no letups. Teams that play 11 or 12 league games, they have 10 nonleague games and can sometimes work on things if things aren’t working right. With the way our league is, we’ve got to be ready from the get-go and improve as we go.”

Botkins

Phil Groves returns for his second season as the Trojans’ coach.

After coming off a 2021 Division IV state title campaign, Botkins repeated as Shelby County Athletic League champions last year and finished 25-3 after advancing to a regional final.

The Trojans were hit hard by graduation but have two key players back in senior Carter Pleiman (6-5) and junior Jordan Herzog (6-4), who are both post players.

Key newcomers this year include senior forward guard Brandt Boerger, junior guards Rylyn Paul and J.J. Meyer, junior post Grant Flora, sophomore guards Collin Doseck and Noah Topp and sophomore post Colton Pleiman.

“Our players had a good summer and continue to improve every day,” Groves said. “We graduated six seniors from last year’s team, but our returning lettermen and underclassmen are working hard to fill the void that was left due to graduation. We look forward to competing every night and improving throughout the season.”

Jackson Center

Scott Elchert returns for his 28th season at the helm of the program.

Jackson Center returns three starters from a 19-7 campaign last year, in which the squad tied for second in SCAL standings. Senior forward Camdyn Reese, senior guard Nolan Fark and senior guard Jace Mullenhour all return.

Other key returnees are senior Grant Elchert, junior Lucas Hartle, senior Bryson Roberts and senior Kellen Reichert. Sophomore post Reed Platfoot (6-5) and sophomore guard Lucas Heitkamp are key newcomers.

“We look to be competitive on a nightly basis,” Elchert said.

Fort Loramie

Corey Britton returns for his ninth season as the Redskins’ coach.

Fort Loramie finished 13-11 overall last year and 8-4 in SCAL standings, good for a second-place tie with Jackson Center.

Fort Loramie returns all but two players from last year’s squad, including senior guard Caleb Maurer, who was a third team all-Southwest district selection in Div. IV after averaging 12.9 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Other returnees include senior forward Logan Eilerman, senior guard Ethan Keiser, senior guard Aiden Wehrman, senior guard Ryan Hoelscher, senior forward Darren Eilerman and senior forward Isaac Raterman, who tore an ACL during football season. Raterman, Wehrman and Logan Eilerman were also starters last year.

Senior Austin Pleiman is a key newcomer.

“We have a chance to be very competitive if we can get healthy,” Britton said. “I like our core group and our season will be dependent on our eight seniors and how they develop. We played seven juniors last year, now those juniors are seniors, so the experience they went through is a good thing, but that won’t win us games. We have to learn how to do the little things down the stretch that sometimes we didn’t do consistently enough last year.”

Russia

Spencer Cordonnier returns as Russia’s coach after serving as an assistant the last four years. He was the squad’s head coach from 2015 to 2018 and succeeded longtime coach Paul Bremigan.

Cordonnier was named interim coach late last month after four-year coach Dave Borchers died in a car accident in mid-October.

The squad returns every starter from last season’s 15-10 campaign, which included a fourth-place finish in SCAL standings.

Seniors guard Zane Shappie and forward Xavier Phlipot, junior guards Brayden Monnin and Hayden Quinter and sophomore guard Braylon Cordonnier all return. Senior guard Ross Fiessinger is also a key returnee.

Senior center Colby Monnin, junior guard Felix Francis and sophomore guard Vince Borchers are key newcomers.

“Kids have been working very, very hard the first month of the season in practice,” Cordonnier said. “They have faced a lot of adversity so far and have responded really well.

“We are looking forward to getting the season started as we have a very challenging schedule as usual, and they know they are going to have to bring high energy every night.

“We will be as big a team as we have had in a few years, so we will be looking to score a little bit more in the post than we have in the past. We are happy with how the preseason has gone and ready to get the regular season going.”

Anna

Nate Barhorst returns for his 12th season as the program’s coach.

The Rockets finished 9-15 last season and 5-7 in SCAL play, good for a fifth-place finish.

Anna returns two starters in senior guard/forward Hayden Huelskamp and senior guard Drew Doseck. Other returnees include senior guard Carter Seigle and Trey Heitkamp.

Juniors Mason Carey, Derek Madden and Karter Pogue and sophomore Evan Myers are key newcomers.

“We will be looking to build off of last year’s squad that graduated four seniors, including SCAL player of year McKane Finkenbine,” Barhorst said. “We will be counting on several players to step up and give us more balance in scoring.

“We will still look for an uptempo style of play and strive to move the ball more efficiently while creating more opportunities for scoring. Communication, defense and rebounding will be the three major keys to this group as we will not be the biggest team in the area. We have young men right now who are working hard towards those keys.”

Fairlawn

Dennis Davis returns for his second season as the Jets’ coach.

Fairlawn finished 2-21 last year and tied for sixth place in SCAL standings.

The Jets return five players: juniors Drew Westerbeck, Gavin Landrey, Nolan Cramer and Aiden Haynes and sophomore Dalton Davis.

Key newcomers include juniors Trey Sparks, Aaron Maddy and Jaret Scherer and sophomores Isaac Clayton and Bryce Ennis.

“We return all starters from last season except for one,” Davis said. “Looking to build on last year’s progress. We’re a younger team. The kids are working extremely hard and hopefully the experience pays off returning four of our five starters from last season.

Houston

Caleb Fledderjohann takes over as the Wildcats’ coach.

Houston finished 3-20 overall and tied Fairlawn for sixth place in SCAL standings.

Luke Beaver and Parker Herrick are returning starters, while Rusty Vondenhuevel is a returning letterwinner.

Key newcomers include Skylar Bowman, Jeff Leist, Lucas Mohler, Hayden Mowery, Bryan Scott and Dustin Strunk.

“Our players and staff have been working extremely hard since we arrived at the end of May. The players are locked in and focused on producing a new narrative for our Houston basketball program. In a short time span, our players have created a new expectation for the program. Their work ethic and commitment to improvement in the offseason has born a relentless desire to succeed.”

Lehman Catholic

Pat Carlisle returns for his fifth season as the Cavaliers’ coach.

Lehman finished 13-10 last season and finished sixth in the Three Rivers Conference’s inaugural season.

Two starters return in junior guard Donovan O’Leary and senior center Justin Chapman. O’Leary averaged 9.4 points and three assists per game last year while Chapman averaged 13.7 points and 10.8 rebounds.

Senior Dave Brunner also returns. Will Ford is a key newcomer.

“Lehman is aiming for its fourth straight winning season in a very competitive conference as the three co-champions from 2021-22 return 13 of the 15 starters,” Carlisle said. “Like our first year in the conference, we will battle and be competitive with bigger schools …in the TRC.”

Sidney freshman guard Julius Spradling dribbles with pressure from Piqua’s Dre’Sean Roberts during a Miami Valley League crossover game on Monday at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Spradling is one of four key returnees for the Yellow Jackets.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/11/web1_BPB_3415-Edit-2-1.jpgSidney freshman guard Julius Spradling dribbles with pressure from Piqua’s Dre’Sean Roberts during a Miami Valley League crossover game on Monday at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Spradling is one of four key returnees for the Yellow Jackets.Bryant Billing | Sidney Daily News

Fort Loramie’s Caleb Maurer shoots during a Division IV district semifinal against Jackson Center on Feb. 25 at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Maurer is one of seven returning seniors for the Redskins.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/11/web1_DSC_0561-1.jpgFort Loramie’s Caleb Maurer shoots during a Division IV district semifinal against Jackson Center on Feb. 25 at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Maurer is one of seven returning seniors for the Redskins. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Russia’s Brayden Monnin shoots over a Botkins player during a Division IV district semifinal on Feb. 26 at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Monnin is one of six key returnees for the Raiders.
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/11/web1_DSC_1913-1.jpgRussia’s Brayden Monnin shoots over a Botkins player during a Division IV district semifinal on Feb. 26 at Garbry Gymnasium in Piqua. Monnin is one of six key returnees for the Raiders. Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News

Sidney junior wing Sam Reynolds dribbles with pressure from Greenville’s Million Bryant during the first half of a Miami Valley League game on Feb. 11 in Sidney. Reynolds, who was a first team all-MVL selection last year, is one of four returnees for the Yellow Jackets, which finished 18-5 and won the overall league title last year. 
https://www.sidneydailynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/47/2022/11/web1_BPB_3886-Edit-1.jpgSidney junior wing Sam Reynolds dribbles with pressure from Greenville’s Million Bryant during the first half of a Miami Valley League game on Feb. 11 in Sidney. Reynolds, who was a first team all-MVL selection last year, is one of four returnees for the Yellow Jackets, which finished 18-5 and won the overall league title last year. Bryant Billing | Sidney Daily News
Fort Loramie, Russia return most players from last season

By Bryant Billing

[email protected]

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.

Contact Bryant Billing at (937) 538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.