Experienced Jets hope for another big season

Hauser broke through last season to win its first boys basketball sectional title since 2012.

With four starters back from a 16-10 squad, the Jets hope to make an even bigger run this season.

“We’re really excited about our seniors we have this year,” Hauser coach Griff Roth said. “We hope that the experience that we got last year will help us through some tough competition this year. We have a very tough schedule, so we’re hoping that gets us prepared for the sectional.”

Alex Gross, a 6-foot-7 senior, led the Jets with 15.3 points and 8.9 rebounds a game last season. Justin Compton, a 6-2 senior, added 11.2 points and 5.3 rebounds, while 6-0 senior point guard Mason Sherman contributed 10.8 points, 4.0 assists and 2.3 steals.

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Andrew Titus, a 6-1 senior, also was a starter for most of the season and averaged 3.8 points. Sam Meek, a 6-4 senior, could fill the other starting spot.

Twins Matt and Joe Sweet, a pair of 5-9 seniors, saw a little varsity action last season and will look to provide a spark off the bench. Up from the junior varsity are 6-4 senior Caleb Orlich, 6-0 junior Will Trotter and 6-4 junior Sean Miller.

“I think we have some depth there,” Roth said. “With the guys that are returning, if they weren’t playing full-time at the varsity, they were playing a lot of minutes on the JV and dressing for the varsity.”

Columbus Christian

The Crusaders lost all five starters from team that went 28-6 and won an NACA Tournament championship last season.

Still, Columbus Christian opened its season last weekend with lopsided wins against Trinity Christian and Fortune Academy. That gives veteran coach Kevin Roth plenty of optimism.

“What I’ve liked the first couple of games is our aggressiveness on the boards,” Kevin Roth said. “One thing we haven’t done yet is play from behind. How is this team going to respond when we get behind? It’s hard to simulate that in practice.”

Kyle Foster, a 6-1 senior, led the Crusaders with a 15.0 average through the first two games. Connor Emily, a 5-6 junior, adds 9.5 points, while 5-6 sophomore C.J. Reed scores 9.0, 6-0 sophomore Josh Jones adds 8.5 and 5-8 senior Taylor Hilliard chips in 6.5.

The top subs are 5-6 sophomore Evan Graham and 5-4 junior Shelton Hawkins. Xu Zhenxuan, a 5-9 exchange student from China, could see more action as the season progresses.

Splitting time between varsity and JV are 6-0 junior Ethan Edwards, 5-5 sophomore Garrett Spurgeon, 5-11 freshman Isaac Carlson and 5-3 freshman Drew Robison. Columbus Christian also welcomes back 6-2 senior Levi Sallee, who missed last season while recovering from a traumatic brain injury resulting from a car accident.

Jennings County

The Panthers will be rebuilding with no starters back from last year’s 13-11 squad.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Jennings coach Josh Land said. “We have a lot of kids that can shoot the ball. We’re just young. I think we will get better as the season goes on. The sophomores I have are pretty skilled. It’s just a big jump for them.”

Travis Wilson, a 6-6 senior wing, was the sixth man last year. But he is the only returner with varsity experience.

Gage Walters, a 6-0 sophomore takes over at point guard. The other starters likely will be 6-0 junior guard Cody Wilson, 6-3 junior wing Weston Miller and 6-2 sophomore forward Aaron Martin.

Owen Miller, a 5-10 sophomore guard, and 6-0 junior Kent Biehle, will be the top subs. Calin Kinney, a 6-2 senior forward, also could see action.

Edinburgh

The Lancers have a new coach in Keith Witty, who has been varsity assistant at Perry Meridian the past three years following 10 years as varsity assistant at Franklin.

“We’re off to a fairly decent start,” Witty said. “Being a new person coming in, the guys are starting to buy in.”

Witty inherits four starters from a team that went 6-18 under Drew Glentzer, who left for Indian Creek. Coltan Henderson, a 6-0 junior guard, was the team’s leading scorer.

Also back are 6-0 senior guard Parker Bryant, 6-0 junior guard Bryce Burton and 5-10 senior guard Justin Foskuhl. Christian Cox, a 6-3 senior who played as a sophomore, is back at Edinburgh after spending last year at Columbus East and could start in the post.

“We’re definitely playing off the experience that they have,” Witty said. “Even though they didn’t get a tremendous amount of wins, they were very competitive last year. That experience is going to be a huge factor for us to get some success this year.”

Jordan Myers, a 6-5 junior, will provide depth inside, and 5-7 sophomore Darius Bennett, a transfer from Columbus North, could play on the perimeter. Chris Burris, a 5-10 senior, also could see action.

Brown County

The Eagles gained some momentum at the end of last season, winning three of their last four following a 3-16 start. Two starters return from that 6-17 squad.

“We’re going to be a pretty different team from last year,” Brown County coach Chuck Hutchins said. “We lost six seniors who were all pretty significant contributors. It’s a lot of different faces, so we’re still kind of figuring it out.”

Ezra Scully, a 6-1 senior, and 6-5 senior Isaiah Keefauver are the only returners who saw much varsity action last season. Noah Carter, a 6-3 sophomore, will join them in the starting lineup.

Battling for the other starting spots are 5-10 juniors Jackson McPheeters and Corbin Heminger, 6-0 sophomore Caleb Yeager, 6-0 senior Bryce Malan and 5-5 freshman Travis Ely.

“It’s one of the first years that my starting lineup in my head changes every day,” Hutchins said. “Ezra and Isaiah and Noah Carter will be starters for sure, but the other two are up in the air.”

South Decatur

The Cougars have a new coach in former Jennings County mentor Kendall Wildey. Wildey, who has more recently coached softball at Jennings and Columbus Christian, inherits a team that lost seven seniors from a 12-13 team.

South Decatur does, however, have a building block in 6-5 senior Matt Cornett, who led the Cougars with 20.5 points and 11.4 rebounds a game.

“He’s a student of the game,” Wildey said. “He loves to play, and he understands the game. When you have a leader like that out there, he can help the ones that haven’t had a lot of varsity experience. He’s so versatile. He can literally play every position on the floor.”

Wildey will look to 5-8 senior point guard Brandon Benge and 5-11 senior guard Jacob Watts in the backcourt. Tucker Bushhorn, a 5-8 senior guard, could be the first player off the bench.

Two football players — 6-1 senior Kordell Meadows and 6-0 senior Devon Martin — are playing basketball for the first time since their freshman years and could step into frontcourt spots. Trent Nobbe, a 6-1 junior, and 6-0 junior Nolan Storm also could play inside.

“We have a lot of work to do,” Wildey said. “But they’re like sponges. They want to absorb it all, and they want to learn. They’re giving in their best. We just have so much to put in that we might struggle early, but over the season, we have a lot of potential, and we might get better.”

Trinity Lutheran

Only one starter returns from a team that went 6-18 last season.

Jacob Rowe, a 6-1 senior who averaged 8.7 points, is the lone returning player with much varsity experience. Moving into the lineup will be 5-10 junior point guard Trent Shoemaker and 6-1 junior forward AJ Goecker.

Another potential starter, 6-1 junior Aden Jones, is recovering from a broken thumb and could miss the first couple games. Also figuring to contribute are 6-3 sophomore Josh Rowe, 6-1 freshman Jack Marksbery and 6-0 freshman Tyler Goecker.

“We want to try to get some chemistry together,” Trinity coach Brian Stuckwisch said. “We’re going to be very young and small. It will be an interesting season to see how we compete with bigger, stronger, more experienced teams. That will be our biggest challenge.”

If you go

The remaining 2017-18 Columbus Christian boys basketball schedule:

Friday;at Traders Point Christian;7:30 p.m.

Saturday;vs. LaPorte LaLumiere Blue at Knighstown Hoosier Gym;2:30 p.m.

Dec. 2;Madison Shawe;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 5;Martinsville Christian;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8;Christel House Academy;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15;Crosspointe Christian;7 p.m.

Dec. 16;at Cannelton Shootout;TBA

Dec. 28;Columbus Christian Holiday Invitational;TBA

Dec. 29;Columbus Christian Holiday Invitational;TBA

Dec. 30;at Medora;2:15 p.m.

Jan. 4;at Indiana Deaf;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6;Madison Christian Academy;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 9;Bloomington Lighthouse Academy;8 p.m.

Jan. 13;Cannelton;7 p.m.

Jan. 19;at Micah Christian;8 p.m.

Jan. 26;at Bethesda Christian;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27;Delaware Christian;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 30;Colonial Christian;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 2;Southside Christian;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 6;at Madison Christian Academy;6 p.m.

Feb. 9;at Horizon Christian;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 10;at Washington Catholic;2 p.m.

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The 2017-18 Hauser boys basketball schedule

Tuesday;at Greenwood Christian Academy;7:30 p.m.

Saturday;at Columbus North;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 28;Trinity Lutheran;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1;at Morristown;7:30 p.m.

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

Dec. 9;Franklin;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15;at Edinburgh;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 29;at South Ripley Invitational;TBA

Dec. 30;at South Ripley Invitational;TBA

Jan. 5;at North Decatur;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6;New Palestine;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12;at Lawrenceburg;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13;Milan;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 19;Waldron;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 26;South Decatur;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27;at Batesville;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1;at Southwestern (Shelby);7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3;Heritage Christian;2:30 p.m.

Feb. 6;Madison Shawe;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 9;at Jac-Cen-Del;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 17;Indian Creek;7:30 p.m.

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