News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 25, 2013

Patriots to rely on youth this season

Andy Amey
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — High school sports are rarely predictable, but there’s one thing fans can count on during the winter of 2013-2014.

The percentage of playing time earned by seniors on Terre Haute North’s boys basketball team will be considerably less than it was a year earlier.

North had 10 seniors last season, all of whom played significant roles on a 12-12 team. This year there are just two seniors, and the significance of their roles has yet to be determined — which makes them no different than the other 12 varsity candidates.

The lone Patriot with much varsity experience is 6-foot-6 junior Charlie Aimone, who won a job as an outside shooting specialist off the bench last season. North fans reading closely will notice that he’s taller this year, but that’s a double-edged sword: while coach Todd Woelfle envisions Aimone as a lengthy forward with 3-point range, similar to Matt O’Leary’s role with the 2011 regional runner-up team, the growth might have been a contributing factor to some nagging injuries that have limited Aimone’s role in early practices.

The team’s two seniors, 6-1 Mitchell Dennany and 5-9 Austin Benson, will provide leadership in different ways. Dennany, a junior varsity regular the past two seasons, is in the mix for a starting wing position and leads “with his attitude and communication skills,” and Benson “leads by example,” his coach says, while fighting for playing time in a crowded backcourt.

But basically, every job is up for grabs at this point.

“A lot of them are even in a lot of areas,” Woelfle said. “We’re young and inexperienced, but this group has been very coachable, giving good effort in practice, doing what the coaching staff says and improving on a daily basis.”

Possibilities at point guard include 5-8 junior C.J. Brown, 5-9 sophomore A.J. Smith and maybe 6-0 junior Andrew Farmer, Woelfle noted. Farmer might also turn up on the wing, where he, Dennany, 5-11 junior Austin Kurashima and 6-2 sophomore Braxton Poore, the latter just now turning to basketball after the football team’s long postseason run, are battling.

What inside presence the Patriots have could come from 6-7 junior Jackson Wolaver, a vastly improved player this year, and 6-3, 250-pound Kobi Riley. Potential for future excitement is available in a pair of sophomore forwards, 6-1 Keshaun Sandifer and 6-2 Casius Bell. Two more 5-11 juniors, Floyd Johnson and Brian Stevens, are also trying to make an impression.

“If he’s healthy, Charlie Aimone could be one of the better players in the area,” Woelfle said as the Patriots look to Saturday’s season opener at Lebanon.

“There’s not a lot of size,” the coach assessed, “so we want to be scrappy on the defensive end. Offensively, we’ll have to limit our turnovers.”

Terre Haute North schedule

Saturday — At Lebanon, 6 p.m.

Dec. 6 — Northview, 6 p.m.

Dec. 7 — Robinson, Ill., 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 13 — At Ben Davis (MIC), 6 p.m.

Dec. 17 — At Bloomington South, 6 p.m.

Dec. 20 — Mooresville, 6 p.m.

Dec. 26-28, Dec. 30 — Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic, TBA

Jan. 4 — At Indianapolis North Central (MIC), noon

Jan. 11 — Warren Central (MIC), 6 p.m.

Jan. 17 — At West Vigo, 6 p.m.

Jan. 18 — Martinsville, 6 p.m.

Jan. 25 — At Bedford North Lawrence, 6 p.m.

Jan. 31 — At Terre Haute South (MIC), 8 p.m.

Feb. 8 — Evansville Reitz, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 13 — At Bloomington North, 6 p.m.

Feb. 15 — At Carmel (MIC), noon

Feb. 21 — At Franklin Central, 6 p.m.

Feb. 22 — Evansville Harrison, 6 p.m.

Feb. 28 — Center Grove (MIC), 6 p.m.

MIC — denotes Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference game

Terre Haute North roster

Player    Ht.    Yr.

Austin Benson    5-9    Sr.

Mitchell Dennany    6-1    Sr.

Charlie Aimone    6-6    Jr.

C.J. Brown    5-8    Jr.

Andrew Farmer    6-0    Jr.

Floyd Johnson    5-11    Jr.

Austin Kurashima    5-11    Jr.

Brian Stevens    5-11    Jr.

Jackson Wolaver    6-7    Jr.

Casius Bell    6-2    So.

Braxton Poore    6-2    So.

Kobi Riley    6-3    So.

Keshaun Sandifer    6-0    So.

A.J. Smith    5-9    So.