CAMDEN — After making the sectional final for the first time in seven years last season, the Preble Shawnee boys basketball team will look to build on an up-and-down year in 2014-15 and turn 2015-16 into an “up” year.
Head coach Jason Crider believes the experience gained by his three freshmen, now sophomores, at the end of last season will pay off this year.
“The quicker we can get them up to varsity speed the better our success can be,” the coach said after his team’s first scrimmage.
The team will be led by two seniors who will be familiar faces to anyone who has played the Arrows over the past few season, as Joby Williams returns for his fourth and final year as the team’s starting point guard and center Thomas Buell will return as the focal point of the Arrow offense.
“He’s going to be the center of the offense,” Crider said of his senior big man. “We have to work inside and out with him on offense, especially in the half court.”
Joining Buell and Williams as seniors on the roster will be Dylan Weireter and Vincent Bulach. Junior Kevin Ketring will also return to the team as an experienced guard for the Arrows.
One senior missing from the roster is Trey Smith. Smith was the Arrows’ leading scorer a year ago but has decided not to play this season.
“Overall, I think we are athletic, I think we will play hard, we’ll be tough defensively,” Crider said of his team. But, he added, a talented sophomore class must learn quickly. “It’s how fast we can catch them up on the offensive end that will be the difference,” he said.
The three sophomores on the roster are Levi Lewis, Joey Bates and Austin Moore.
Junior Lane Conway rounds out the roster for the Arrows.
According to Crider, he believes his team will be talented and has a chance to make some noise in the SWBL conference.
“It’s one of those teams you like the make-up of on paper, but you just have to wait and see in games,” he said.
One thing Crider says you can count on is his team will play hard on defense.
“Our pressure defense at this point is how we get wins; I think we run the ball well in transition. I believe a lot of our offense can come from transition — this team gets after it all the time.”
Crider is also excited about the chemistry his team has shown in early practices. “This group is together all the time — the chemistry I’ve seen in practice has been nice,” he said. “I think it’s a big part they are truly friends on and off the court.”
Size was a concern for the coach this summer but the development of other players has eased the concerns for the coach. “Going into the summer I thought we might be undersized,” he admitted, adding, “We’ve had some guys step up and show they can bang around inside and help us out down there.”
Crider also said his team must get better shooting free throws after four of the 11 losses last year came by less than five points. The Arrows shot under 50 percent from the free throw line in those games.
The Arrows open the season with a home game against local rival Eaton on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062
or on Twitter at aschmidt_RH