Order in the (back)court

The way Joe Hartwell sees it, his Jennings County boys basketball team will be experienced and talented in the frontcourt this season.

The backcourt could be another matter.

The Panthers’ fortunes this season may rest on how well their guards come along. They’ll be tested for the first time Wednesday night when Jennings opens the season at home against New Palestine.

“There’s a lot of question marks about how our guards will play,” Hartwell said. “If they can grow, I think we can be competitive with the top teams in our sectional. If they don’t come along, we’ll have a tough year, so they have a lot of weight on their shoulders.”

The frontcourt appears to be solid, led by 6-foot-6 junior Tyler Vogel. Vogel, the lone returning starter from an 11-12 squad, averaged 12.0 points and led the Panthers with 7.7 rebounds last season.

“He’s our go-to guy,” Hartwell said. “He’s a guy that can play kind of inside and out. Last year, he was a guy that had to play out of position a little bit. We had some big guys, so he had to step outside.”

Justin Pettit, a 6-3 senior, averaged 7.2 points as Jennings’ sixth man.

“He’s a guy that can score, as well,” Hartwell said. “We’re looking for him and Tyler to lead us. He can play on the perimeter, but we’re going to use him inside and out.”

Pettit’s brother, 6-1 freshman Josh Pettit, likely will step into a starting role.

“He’s a super athletic kid,” Hartwell said. “He’s learned a lot the first two weeks of practice. He’s done a great job so far.”

Splitting the point guard duties will be 5-9 junior Kenneth Jones and 5-9 senior Austin Ketcham. Nick AmRhein, a 5-9 junior, takes over at shooting guard.

Adam Jackson, a 6-4 senior who saw considerable playing time last year, likely will begin the season as the Panthers’ sixth man.

“He’s really a banger for us,” Hartwell said. “He’ll do the dirty work and get rebounds. We’ll ask him to do a little bit more of us from the offensive end this year.”

Two other players, 6-3 junior Bret Sawyer and 6-0 senior Matt Cornett, will provide depth off the bench.

At a glance

The 2015-16 Jennings County boys basketball schedule:

Wednesday;New Palestine;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 4;Madison;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 5;at Silver Creek;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 12;Rock Creek Academy;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 18;at Greensburg;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 19;at Seymour;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 22;East Central;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 2;at Perry Meridian;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 8;Brownstown Central;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 9;at Columbus North;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 15;Seymour;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 16;Bedford North Lawrence;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 22;at Floyd Central;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 23;South Dearborn;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 29;Scottsburg;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 4;New Albany;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 12;at Columbus East;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 13;Jeffersonville;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 19;at Batesville;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 20;Bloomington South;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 23;at South Decatur;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 26;at Franklin;7:30 p.m.

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.