WEST ALEXANDRIA — As Tony Augspurger begins his 31st season as head boys basketball coach at Twin Valley South he’s looking for his team to get back to playing they way he and Panther fans are accustomed to.
“In our recent past we have remained competitive but not played at the level that we want or had grown accustomed to. We have just not been as skilled especially scoring the basketball and had to rely on defense to keep us in games,” he said. “I believe this team has a chance to be good defensively, however, I think the potential is there for us to be better shot makers than we’ve been in the recent past. If that happens, look out, we could have some fun.”
The Panthers finished the 2016-17 season with a 9-14 record, 7-5 in the Cross County Conference.
Returning to lead the Panthers are Travis Lovely, Ryan Bassler, Willie Bowman and Jacob Wells.
Lovely, a good inside scorer, was the team’s second leading scorer and leading rebounder last year at 12.1 points per game and 6.9 rebounds.
Bassler returns as the starting point guard and averaged 3.8 points per game and 3.1 assists per game. In addition to running the show on offense, he is an excellent defender, according to Augspurger.
Bowman was the team’s sixth man last year and third leading scorer at 9.2 points per game.
Last season’s seventh man, Jacob Wells, who was an athletic defensive stopper for the Panthers also returns.
Newcomers this season include senior Bryant Marker, juniors Jayden Bassler, Cade Cottingim, Nathan Osborn and sophomore Cole Petersen.
Augspurger said his team will be tested right out of the gate.
“I think the opening week is important for us. We have our Tip Off tournament (with Eaton, National Trail and Dixie) and then come back and play Valley View and TC North the following Tuesday and Friday. Four rivalry games which will test us right off of the bat,” he said.
Augspurger said Bethel is the team to beat in the CCC, but sees the rest of the league as balanced.
“It’s Bethel and the rest of us chasing them — at least on paper. I expect Franklin-Monroe, Arcanum and Ansonia to all be good,” he said. “I think the other Preble County schools in our league, North and Trail, both have their programs moving in good directions and expect them to be competitive in the top part of the league as well. In theory two of our traditional powers in Tri-Village and Miami East don’t have as much firepower back, but I’ll believe they aren’t very good when I see it.”
South will open the season on Friday, Dec. 1, when it hosts Eaton at 7:30 p.m. in the second game of the Sixth Annual Twin Valley South Tip-Off tournament sponsored by Wings Etc. Friday is varsity only.
The Panthers will play Saturday at either 4 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. depending on Friday night’s results. Junior varsity games begin at 1 p.m. on Saturday.