CAMDEN — After a 1-2 start to begin the season, Preble Shawnee’s boys basketball team started to gel.
The Arrows rattled off 13 straight wins, and thoughts of a league title in their final year in the Southwestern Buckeye League started to become a reality.
“Like everybody else we got off to a rough start with all the in the disruptions, the quarantines and never really had everybody all together,” Shawnee coach Dale Spitler Jr. said. “Kind of like everybody else we didn’t have a normal preseason and all that.”
Spitler Jr. said once his team was full go it didn’t take long to mesh together.
After a loss to Valley View snapped the winning streak, Shawnee won its final five games to end the regular season 19-3 and 11-1 in the SWBL Buckeye Division to claim the program’s 10th league title and ninth in the SWBL since joining in the 1984-85 season.
“That’s always our number one goal going into the season,”Spitler Jr. said of winning the league title.
Shawnee opened with a 67-54 loss at Oakwood then rallied from a 15-point second half deficit to beat Northridge. In game three, the Arrows dropped a 70-64 contest at Waynesville in a game they were outscored 25-10 in the fourth quarter.
“I think the first game might have been first time we had everybody all together,” Spitler Jr. said. “Our first three games [were] really tough. And that’s what we told you guys, said it hits you quick. I mean, if you don’t figure it out relatively quick. I mean, next thing you know you’re digging yourself a hole you can’t get out of. So fortunately we were able to to get it done against Northridge and stay alive there.”
From that point on, Shawnee has won games in a variety of ways.
With the successful season the team has garnered several post-season awards to date.
Coach Dale Spitler Jr. was named SWBL Buckeye Division and District 15 Division III Coach of the Year. Dale Spitler Sr. was named District 15 Assistant Coach of the Year.
“Obviously, you have to have a good team to get coach of the year,” Spitler Jr. said. “They don’t give that to teams that lose. So I give a lot of credit to our players for putting us in position that we’re even up for those honors. They’ve worked really hard. They bought into the stuff we’re saying and they found a way to win the games which in return rewarded everybody. So I’m really happy with that and it’s great to be able to coach with my dad.”
Freshman Mason Shrout was tabbed as the SWBL Buckeye Division Player of the Year and District 15 Underclassman of the Year, while averaging 22.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
“He has been very consistent. Everybody knew that he was skilled. He had some size and all that, but it’s a huge jump going from middle school to high school,” Spitler Jr. said. “They start going in with a game plan to stop you and they’re going to put a senior on you and they’re going to be trying to rough you up and they’re going to go box and ones and face guards and doubles. That adds a whole different whole different layer to it and the way that he’s responded to that by not getting frustrated, staying the course.”
Senior Bryce Singleton earned first-team SWBL Buckeye Division honors as well as being selected as a District 15 all-star, while averaging 18.1 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
“Just one of the most hard working, intense players, we’ve ever had. Consistent. Brings it every day in practice. Just only cares about winning,” Spitler Jr. said. “He’ll do whatever it takes to win. And his leadership was tremendous.”
Spitler Jr. said he nominated both for league player of the year.
“We were really hoping we’d get co-player because they were both equally as important,” Spitler Jr. said.
Senior Dylan Hatmaker and junior Xavier Adams were honorable mention selections in the league.
The No. 2 seeded Arrows will begin postseason play on Thursday, Feb. 25 when they take on Covington in the Northmont sectional finals. The winner will advance to the district semifinals to be played on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m. against either No. 8 seed Dayton Christian or No. 9 seed Versailles.
With two wins, the Arrows would be back in the district title game for the first time since the 1988-89 season.
“We kind of share the awards. We’ve worked together and all that so it’s been great,” Spitler Jr. said. “It’s been a really fun year and hoping to keep it going.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 or follow on Twitter @emowenjr