Olympians look to bounce back with better 2021-22 season

It’s a new season, and for Columbus East boys basketball, that’s a good thing.

The Olympians have put last year’s 1-18 season in the rearview mirror and are anxious to erase those memories and replace them with some fond new ones.

“We want to try to find a way to win games,” East coach Brent Chitty said. “We felt like we let some slip away last year, and we’re trying to get better at that.”

If the first week-and-a-half of official practice is any indication, the Olympians might be on the right track.

“We’re just grinding it each day, and I think our guys are working really hard,” Chitty said. “We’re trying to get in game shape. We’re going about 2 1/2 hours a night. We’re pretty good that first hour-and-40 minutes, but that last 50 minutes, we’re getting a little tired. We want to be able to go at least two hours with lots of energy.”

Although they lost six of their eight regular players to graduation, Chitty isn’t quite ready to call this a rebuilding season.

“I think because we’re playing high school basketball, I don’t know about rebuilding,” Chitty said. “These are the guys that have been in our program, and it’s their turn to show what they’ve got. I do think we have some guys that are hungry, so that’s exciting. We are definitely competitive in practice, so that’s exciting to watch.”

Will Rieckers, a 5-foot-10 senior, averaged 7.8 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.4 assists a game last season. Ben Sylva, a 6-1 junior, added 5.4 points and 2.8 rebounds and tied for the team lead with 2.6 assists per contest.

Five other players 6-2 junior Julius Dailey, 5-7 senior J.T. Kuhlman, 6-3 junior Pete Coriden, 6-3 senior Anthony Lloyd and 5-8 junior Zane Moravec saw a few varsity minutes, but played mostly at the JV level last season. Mason Reeves, a 5-6 freshman, could make an immediate impact, and 6-0 sophomore Jackson Fischvogt also could see varsity action.

“I would say right now, we’re looking at nine guys,” Chitty said. “We have some other JV guys that we’re trying to bring along and get them ready. But those nine guys are going to grow together and give us some quality minutes.”

Sylva likely will play the point, but could get help at the position from Kuhlman, Rieckers or Moravec.

“Julius and Ben and Willy are going to have to lead the way for us,” Chitty said. “I think we have some other guys that can step up and help, though. That group plays pretty well together. As they mix it up, it doesn’t take long to figure out who does what.”

East opens the season Wednesday at defending Class 3A state champion Silver Creek. The home opener is Nov. 27 against Noblesville.

Chitty hopes the offseason of work the Olympians put in will pay off against a demanding schedule.

“We had a lot of guys show up for limited contact and conditioning,” Chitty said. “Hopefully, we got some things accomplished there. They like to play the game, and they’re playing hard. It’s a new year. You have a group of guys that are seniors, and it’s their turn. Every group has a chance, and hopefully, they’ll make the most of it.”

The 2021-22 Columbus East boys basketball schedule:

Wednesday;at Silver Creek;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 27;Noblesville;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 30;Whiteland;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 3;at Trinity Lutheran;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 4;Southwestern (Hanover);7:30 p.m.

Dec. 10;at Bedford North Lawrence;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 17;Columbus North;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 21;at Greensburg;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 4;at Martinsville;7:30 p.m.

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

Jan. 11;Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 14;Bloomington South;7:30 p.m.

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

Jan. 18;Mooresville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 22;at Jeffersonville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 28;at East Central;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 29;Bloomington North;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3;at Brownstown Central;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 5;at New Albany;2 p.m.

Feb. 11;Jennings County;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 12;Franklin;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 18;Madison;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 23;at Floyd Central;7:30 p.m.