WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley South’s boys basketball team has taken a hit after graduating five players – most key contributors to a team which played steady, lock down defense for much of last season.
But the Panthers also return some pretty good ball players as well and hope that the tone set from a season ago will carry over into the new year.
“I think we took some steps last year toward bringing our program back to more what we expect of it. Last year’s team was my favorite team I’ve coached in a while because our mind set on the floor mirrored my own vision of how we want to play the game better than we’ve done in a long time,” said head coach Tony Augspurger. “We lost quite a bit, but we had a really productive summer. Our veterans set the tone with our guys who moved up from (junior varsity) and we just continued with that same mindset. We played really well and while summer success doesn’t guarantee season success, it does set a tone and raises expectations.”
South brings back two key senior starters from last year in Jacob Bassler and J.J. Utz.
Bassler is the team’s most proven scorer and started at the varsity level last season. He was also the starting quarterback on the football team this season, an asset that Augspurger hopes will lead to his two-year starter being more confident in a bigger offensive role.
Utz also brings in a year of starting experience and will run the point for the Panthers. He was scrappy on the defensive side of the ball last season and “sets the tone” defensively, said Augspurger.
“Both are great leaders by example in that they come and work hard every day in practice. My group of guys gets it. They understand how our mindset has to be for us to be successful,” said Augspurger. “Our key is that we work very hard to be extremely un-fun to play against. That has to take place every day in practice and Jacob and J.J. were a huge part of that for us last year.”
They also return two other lettermen from last year in Winston Crosier and Chad Ehler, both who were solid bench players from a season ago, as well as newcomers Ryan Bassler, Jared Cottingim, Mike Meyers, Andrew Augspurger, and Travis Lovely as well.
“We want to continue to get better defensively. That’s our key. Frankly, we aren’t skilled enough for offense to be our forte,” said Augspurger. “We don’t really have basketball first guys. We have good athletes who play a lot of sports. That can be good, however, it’s not conducive towards being overly skilled. We are going to take care of the ball on O, have some patience, look to take good shots and then bust our tails racing to the O-boards. However, our key is we must defend and defend and defend.”
They finished last season 16-8, winning a tournament game before bowing out to Brookville in the second round.
The Panthers open this year with their annual TVS Tip-Off Tourney at home, hosting Dixie, Eaton, and Stivers over a two day tournament. They open with Dixie at 7:30 on Friday, Nov. 27.
Jeremy can be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.