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Leadership key if Panthers are going to have success

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Jennings County's Bailey Sanders, right, tries to shoot over New Palestine's Justin Ikerd on Wednesday night.
Jennings County's Bailey Sanders, right, tries to shoot over New Palestine's Justin Ikerd on Wednesday night. PHOTO BY TOMMY WALKER

When Mike Broughton came to Jennings County as athletics director in 2008, he thought his coaching days were behind him.

Broughton was offered the Marion High School coaching job a couple of years ago but turned it down. But when Jennings needed a coach this summer, he agreed to return to the bench.

“I hadn’t really ever planned on coaching again; but we got down to within a week of school and we didn’t have a coach, so I agreed to fill in this year and then see how it goes,” Broughton said.

The Indiana Basketball Hall-of-Famer has won 350 games in 21 high school seasons and led Jeffersonville to the 1993 state championship. He spent three years as an assistant under former Butler coach Barry Collier at Nebraska and five as head coach at Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma City.

Jennings County Panthers

2011-12 RECORD: 11-12

COACH: Mike Broughton

KEY LOSSES: Steve McClanahan, Sam Hunt, Garrett Jackson

RETURNING STARTERS: 6-3 senior Tommy Taylor (12.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg), 5-10 senior Bailey Sanders (12.0 ppg, 4.2 apg)

OTHER KEY PLAYERS: 5-9 senior Bryson Mills (6.7 ppg), 6-9 junior Brad Hunt (5.7 ppg), 6-0 junior Adrian Kirchner (4.6 ppg)

“I haven’t coached a high school game in 12 years,” Broughton said. “I’m used to playing whoever plays the best during the week, and if somebody plays well on Friday night, they may start on Saturday night.”

The Panthers return two starters and three other players who saw plenty of action last year. Tommy Taylor, a 6-foot-3, 255-pound senior, led Jennings with 12.3 points and 4.5 rebounds a game and is currently recovering from a knee injury suffered during football season.

“He’s probably right now at about 85 percent,” Broughton said. “We hope for him to be 100 percent around Christmas time.”

The other returning starter, 5-10 senior point guard Bailey Sanders, averaged 12.0 points and a team-high 4.2 assists. Bryson Mills, a 5-9 senior, scored 6.7 points a game; while 6-9 junior Brad Hunt and 6-0 junior Adrian Kirchner added 5.7 and 4.6, respectively.

“The leader should be Sanders,” Broughton said. “He’s a four-year guy coming back. He has the most starts, so we’re counting on him for a lot of leadership.”

Caleb Eder, a 6-4 sophomore, could contribute after sitting out last season. Up from the junior varsity are 5-9 junior Johnny Scruggs, 6-1 junior Jonah Woods, 6-5 sophomore Richard McNamee and 6-2 sophomore Dan Leach.

“We have some size, and we have some experience,” Broughton said. “For us to be successful this year, Sanders is going to have to do well at the point. It’s important that they try to learn the system that we have as soon as they can.”

Broughton is the Panthers’ fifth coach in the past six seasons. They went 19-4 and 11-12 the past two years under Bob Howe.

“They’ve worked pretty hard,” Broughton said. “We’re starting a little bit behind because we didn’t have a coach over the summer. But we’re catching up, and the kids have been pretty receptive to what we’re trying to do. I think they’ve worked really hard.”

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