PREBLE COUNTY — Eaton, Preble Shawnee and Tri-County North all return plenty of experience on varsity as they each look to have a successful 2020-21 boys basketball season that begins this weekend.
Eaton looking toward veterans
Coach Denny Shepherd and the Eaton Eagles will look toward the veteran leaders on the team as they look to improve their standing in the SWBL.
The Eagles will be led by senior guard Travis Pittman, who was named Honorable Mention All-League and led the Eagles in scoring last season.
Senior guard Trevor Long, named Honorable Mention All-League, forward Cameron Lewis and center Breyden Boston round out the returning starters for the Eagles.
Also looking to contribute this year will be guard Beau Shepherd, guard/forward Clayton Kiracofe and guard/forward Brady Davis.
Additionally, guard Jarrell Curtis, who played metro basketball with the senior class, moved back into the district during the summer and will play with the Eagles.
“We hope to improve on both our league and overall record with a greater number of senior leaders and multiple underclassmen returning that have varsity experience,” Shepherd said.
Bryce Singleton to lead Preble Shawnee this season
Losing a player of Sam Agee’s caliber, SWBL Buckeye Division Player of the Year runner-up last season, would be difficult for any team to handle, but Preble Shawnee has an ace up its sleeve in senior forward Bryce Singleton, who is looking to finish a decorated career with the Arrows.
Singleton has been named First Team All-League the past two seasons and is on track to surpass 1,000 points and 500 rebounds this year.
“With the graduation of Sam Agee, we are going to depend on Bryce heavily for both his leadership and his playmaking abilities,” said coach Dale Spitler Jr.
Junior forward Xavier Adams will also have a big role, having started every game last season as a sophomore.
“He hit a nice percentage of his shots and really helped us win some close games last season,” Spitler said.
Senior guards Dylan Hatmaker, Bryant Morton and Jake Woodard have all seen varsity time, and Spitler looks forward to what they’ll bring to the team.
“[Dylan]’s a very stable and athletic guard that can knock down some shots and guard people,” he said.
Spitler described Morton as an “athletic guard” who put a lot of time into basketball over the offseason.
Additionally, Woodard will provide some speed, especially on defense, and is capable of hitting some outside shots and slashing to the basket, according to Spitler.
Freshman guard Mason Shrout, who Spitler described as “a tall and athletic guard that’s very skilled,” will also join the team.
“We expect Mason to step in right away and be a big contributor at the varsity level,” Spitler said.
The Arrows finished 8-4 in the SWBL Buckeye Division last season, and Spitler expects that it will be very competitive and “probably the most balanced it’s been in a while.”
“Losing Sam, along with the rest of the senior group from last season, is going to be a challenge to replace, but I think we have the ability to put together a nice basketball team,” he said.
Overall, the team is excited to get a chance to even play this season.
“Our guys have been working hard and hoping for a safe and healthy season,” Spitler said.
Tri-County North to build off tournament win last season
Tri-County North and coach Joe Smith return all five starters as they look to improve on their 11-13 record from last season.
Dylan Stinson, named First Team All-Conference and First Team All-District, Wyatt Royer, named Honorable Mention, Luke Eby, Cooper Cole and Ethan Rike will all return for the Panthers.
“We return a lot of experience,” Smith said. “Hopefully we can use that to be in the top half of the conference.”
Braeden Rike and Brett Woodyard also return for North this year.
“We will be competitive. We believe we have a lot of talent on our team,” Smith said. “We need to bring everything together and play as a single unit.”
The Panthers will look to build off their tournament win last season, the school’s first in over a decade.
“We plan on being a much more defensive-minded team,” Smith said. “The boys have worked hard and we have had some tough scrimmages this year to get ourselves ready for the season.”
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles