CAMDEN — Preble Shawnee’s boys basketball team is getting a “once in a lifetime” opportunity when it competes in the Beacon Orthopaedics Flyin’ to the Hoop Invitational this weekend.
The Arrows (12-1) will take on a familiar foe in former Southwestern Buckeye League opponent Oakwood (8-4) on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 11:30 a.m. in the James S. Trent Arena at Kettering Fairmont High School.
“We’re very lucky. It’s an honor to play in this great event,” Shawnee coach Jake Turner said. “This is one of the best high school events during the season. There’s no doubt. Even when I was playing back in the day, I would go watch this and our guys talk about how they love to go watch it. So now getting an opportunity to play in it it’s awesome. It will be an awesome experience.”
Turner said himself and his players are excited to have been invited to play in the event which features teams from eight states and two countries with five defending state champions.
“I’m just so happy for our guys,” he said. “First time in school history, so getting the chance to play in this, we’re probably the smallest school, if not the second smallest, so just having that opportunity is great. And I know our kids are excited, you know, community, school, having that opportunity to come there on that Sunday morning to watch will be something that these kids will never forget, you know, 20, 30, 40 50 years down the road.”
Turner said Oakwood is one of many tough non-conference games his team will see this season.
“They’re a good team. They’re well coached. They’ve had a lot of good players the last several years,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a tough matchup, but it’ll be a good matchup for us and a good challenge. And that’s kind of what you want. You want to play the best of the best. And we tried to do that with our out of conference schedule this year. We’ve kind of went out and played some really, really good teams. We’re going to challenge ourselves and Oakwood’s going to be no different.”
The Arrows, winners of 10 straight as of Thursday, are led by 6-foot, 5-inch junior Mason Shrout, who is currently averaging 24.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.8 assists on the season, and recently became the program’s all-time scoring leader.
Shrout, who has garnered several Division I offers already, was one of the main reasons Shawnee was extended an invite to the event.
“Anytime you got a Division One guy, you’re going to get attention, which you should, he deserves it,” Turner said. “He deserves all attention he’s getting, all the college coaches coming to watch him. He’s a really, really good player and it’s very lucky to have a guy like that. I think he’s going to go down as one of the best players to have ever played here. There’s no doubt. It helps when you have that because you get invited to some of these events.”
Although Shrout has received the bulk of the attention, Turner said the event will also be a time for others who want to play basketball beyond high school.
“We want to give these kids the best opportunity so that the ones who do want to play down the road have that opportunity,” Turner said. “I think playing it the showcases, doing what we did this summer, I think we were doing that part. We got a couple other guys who would like to play down the road. So we want to do whatever we can to get them there. And that’s, that’s their goal. That’s my goal. I want to help them out the best way I can.”
Senior guard Cooper Roell, who leads the team with 4.1 assists per game, said it’s an honor to be invited.
“It’s a big honor to be invited to Flyin’ to the Hoop. Not every team does this. It really shows where our basketball programs went to,” Roell said. “A few years ago, we’re not even a thought to be invited so that really shows you on how far, how much progress we’ve made as a basketball program, and we hope that we can get to continue this in the future.”
Shrout echoed Roell’s comments, but added he’s excited to represent his school and community.
“Building off what Cooper said, it’s a huge honor,” he said. “If you’d have told me five years ago that I was going to be playing in Flyin’ to the Hoop I would have called you crazy. I’m just super excited to get out there and show everybody what Preble Shawnee’s about and super excited for the guys to. It’s going to be a great, great experience.”
Logan Hawley, a 6-8 junior who averages 8.0 points and 4.9 rebounds a game, added he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s a great honor to be here,” junior Logan Hawley said. “If you would have told me five years ago that I’d be doing anything with basketball, I would have been surprised because I couldn’t do anything. I’m excited for the challenges we’re going to go through this season and just excited to grow as a team.”
Shawnee Athletic Director Dane Sadowski said the event is more than just a game to the program and school.
“I don’t know if there’s any words to say how much it means to us,” Sadowski said. “It gives us an ability to showcase our school on not just (the) local level, but a state level and even national, international level. So, we’re very proud of our kids and have that opportunity to be able to showcase to them on a level like that. It’s just a once in a lifetime opportunity for our kids, our school, and our community.”
The invitational runs from Friday, Jan. 13 thru Monday, Jan. 16.