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Practice time last season pays off for Lancers senior

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EDINBURGH — The final two nights of last week’s Johnson County Boys Basketball Tournament offered their yearly supply of intriguing storylines.

Rating near the top is Caleb Giles, the Edinburgh guard whose ascent from second-guy-off-the-bench status to team focal point in only one year has been nothing short of dazzling.

The kid whose somewhat unorthodox jump shot begins with the ball near his right shoulder averages 19.3 points, 6.3 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals for the Class A Lancers (8-2), who wound up taking third place.

Giles tallied 17 points in his team’s hard-fought 52-50 semifinal loss to eventual county titlist Franklin. He returned Saturday night to produce 25 in Edinburgh’s 62-55 consolation victory against another Class 4A opponent, Whiteland.

While most might not have seen such a rapid emergence taking place, those close to the Lancers program aren’t nearly as surprised.

“That’s the product of playing against the (Daily Journal’s) Player of the Year every day in practice,” said Edinburgh coach Drew Glentzer in reference to Kyle Wuest, now a 6-foot-2 freshman guard at Elmhurst (Ill.) College.

Giles concurred, adding, “Having to go up against Kyle in practices definitely made me better. But it wasn’t until AAU ball over the summer that I realized I how much I had improved.”

Averaging five points a game, Giles did his part in Edinburgh’s storybook 2011-12 season that ended with a 61-50 semistate loss to eventual state champion Loogootee (interestingly, Wuest and former Lions swingman Bryant Ackerman, who scored 25 in that game, are now teammates at Elmhurst).

The green light Giles has this season didn’t exist a year ago when he was an underclassmen looking to make the most of whatever court time he got for an Edinburgh ballclub starting five seniors.

“Trent (Tatlock) was the sixth man, and I was the seventh man,” said Giles. “At the beginning of last season I wanted to play more. But with the way our team played, obviously I couldn’t be too upset about it.”

These Lancers, now up to No. 12 in the Class A poll, don’t have the number of offensive options as that 23-4 squad did. Edinburgh makes up for it in other areas.

“It’s definitely our defense and our hustle,” Giles said. “We know that even if our offense isn’t there, our defense is.”

Giles still thinks he’s an unfinished product defensively and with his ball-handling, and he would like to continue to better himself in those areas. Strides have definitely been made in another of the game’s facets that doesn’t make itself noticed in box scores.

“The area where Caleb has probably grown the most is his leadership,” Glentzer said. “I put a lot of pressure on our seniors, and we ask a lot of Caleb. He’s our best shooter, our best passer, our best ball-handler and our best on-the-ball defender.”

Success isn’t a stranger to Giles. The senior finished as Edinburgh’s leading receiver in football this past fall with 18 receptions. He also plays on the school’s golf team and is an outstanding student with a 3.6 grade-point average.

Now, though, Giles is all about trying to lead. Another march through March is always a possibility, and after last year there’s an entire town that would like nothing more than to go back.

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