Because of its football team’s perennial run deep into the playoffs, Columbus East doesn’t schedule boys basketball games until early December.
That’s a good thing this year since the football squad is playing in the Class 5A state finals Saturday. The basketball team will open Dec. 2 at Heritage Christian.
In the meantime, the Olympians have plenty of non-football players who have been practicing the past couple of weeks. They had a chance to go against an opponent for the first time in Saturday’s scrimmage with Roncalli.
“Defensively, we did a great job, and that’s to be expected,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “Offensively, we did a lot of great things. I kind of thought it’s about where we would be.”
The Olympians lost five seniors to graduation, including four starters. Three of those are currently playing college basketball.
The lone returning starter is 6-foot-3 senior Tanner McFall, who averaged about 9 points a game last season.
“We expect big things out of Tanner,” Chitty said. “But the way this group plays, they really play well as a unit. They’re a really unselfish group. They really share the basketball, and they’re confident in each other. It’s going to be hard to key on one guy.”
Jonathan Foster, a 6-2 senior, and 5-10 junior point guard Max Nolting saw plenty of action in the backcourt last season. Chaz Painter, a 6-8 senior, played some in the post.
Up from the junior varsity are 6-6 senior Kyle Frost, 6-3 junior Thomas Myers, 6-4 sophomore Matthew Frost, 5-9 sophomore Drew Johnson, 6-3 junior Drew Hasson and 6-0 junior Wyatt Koopman.
“I’m pleased with the improvement that these kids have had,” Chitty said. “There’s probably 10 guys that on any given night can step up and play for us. Individually, out of this group, I look to have somebody else emerge every night.”
Chitty said he also is expecting about four or five football players that could contribute to try out next week.
East will try to bounce back from its first losing season since 2010-11. The Olympians went 11-13 last season, although two of the losses were by one point and two others came in overtime.
The toughest loss, however, came in the first round of the sectional against a Columbus North team that East had beaten in the regular season.
“We always want to play hard and be very competitive and hopefully have some success in the tournament,” Chitty said. “This is a hard-working group, so they’re fun to be around.”
The 2016-17 Columbus East boys basketball schedule:
Dec. 2;at Heritage Christian;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 9;Bedford North Lawrende;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 10;at Silver Creek;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 16;at Columbus North;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21;Rushville;7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27;at Noblesville Tournament;4 p.m.
Dec. 28;at Noblesville Tournament;TBA
Jan. 6;Franklin;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 10;at Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 13;at Bloomington South;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 14;at Seymour;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 21;Jeffersonville;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 27;East Central;7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28;at Bloomington North;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 2;Brownstown Central;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 4;New Albany;2 p.m.
Feb. 10;at Jennings County;7;30 p.m.
Feb. 11;at Franklin;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 14;Franklin Central;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 17;at Madison;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18;Martinsville;7:30 p.m.
Feb. 22;Floyd Central;7:30 p.m.