TERRE HAUTE —
The Rockville High School boys basketball team has a lot of fond memories from the 2011-12 season.
Coach Dave Mahurin’s Rox captured the Wabash River Conference (WRC) title with a 7-0 record, won their fourth sectional in five years, finished with a 22-6 overall mark and reached the Class A state championship game in Indianapolis, where they lost to Loogootee 55-52.
Yes, it’s not difficult to find fond memories from that list of accomplishments.
But Mahurin said players and coaches returning for the 2012-13 campaign have a bad taste in their mouths from that final game against Loogootee when their comeback efforts fell short.
“We gave one away,” the veteran coach reflected. “We should have been state champions.”
Ranked No. 3 in The Associated Press’ preseason Class A poll, the Rox think they can make up for that setback by going all the way in 2012-13. They opened their season Tuesday night against Milwaukee (Wis.) Riverside in the Tournament of Champions at Peoria, Ill.
Returning starters aren’t hard to find — 6-foot-7 senior Lane Mahurin, Dave’s son who averaged about 19 points per game last season; 6-1 senior Gary Ulrich, who averaged about 14 ppg; 6-5 senior Jordon McFall, who averaged about 10 ppg; and 6-3 senior Joel Wittenmyer.
“We’re sitting pretty good,” coach Mahurin said over the weekend. “This is the best team I’ve ever had coming back — anywhere.”
That’s saying something, considering he’s starting his 23rd year as a head coach at schools such as Adams Central, South Vermillion and Rockville.
Dave Mahurin said Nick Waltz, a 6-7 senior who started on junior varsity a year ago, has moved up to varsity starter. “He’s just gotten bigger and stronger,” the Rox coach noted.
Keiontre Wilkey, a 5-7 sophomore from the 2011-12 JV squad, is likely to see plenty of playing time right off the bat and so will 6-2 sophomore Cole Griffen, whom coach Mahurin described as “a fantastic shooter.”
But Lane Mahurin, younger brother of Indiana State player R.J. Mahurin, will get the bulk of the attention and rightfully so.
“Lane had a fantastic summer,” Dave Mahurin said of his talented son, who has not committed to a college yet. “He’s improved his jumpshot and he’s still unbelievably good off the dribble.”
But the Rox obviously are not a one-man team.
“We have depth,” the Rox coach emphasized. “We have kids coming off the bench who would have started in previous years. We’re about 11 deep.”
Rockville is clearly the favorite to repeat as WRC champion, but Dave Mahurin expects serious threats from Attica, Fountain Central and North Vermillion.
Also hoping to climb the WRC ladder is Riverton Parke, which ended up with a 4-3 conference mark in 2011-12 (third behind Rockville and 5-2 Attica). The Panthers lost to Rockville 59-41 in the first round of the North Vermillion Sectional to conclude an 11-11 campaign.
“The key to our success will be how well we do offensively,” Riverton Parke coach Charlie Martin assessed. “Defensively, we should be pretty good. We’ve got good quickness.”
Returning starters are 5-11 senior guard Matt Haltom, who averaged 10.0 ppg last season, and 5-10 senior guard Brendon Bovair. Ready to join the starting mix is previous sixth-man Adam Wilson, a 6-0 senior forward.
Martin said the other two starters will come from either 5-5 junior Luther Mathas, 5-9 junior Kyle Sanders (a South Vermillion transfer), 6-1 junior Daniel Organ, 6-1 sophomore Tanner Edge and 6-6 sophomore Hunter Falls.
Riverton Parke will get started tonight at Fountain Central.
Turkey Run, coming off a season that included records of 4-18 overall and 1-6 in the WRC, already got started Tuesday night at South Putnam. The Warriors’ coach is Grant McVay.
North Vermillion, which finished 11-12 and 3-4 respectively under coach Sam Karr in 2011-12, will play host to West Vigo tonight.
SouthWestern Indiana Athletic Conference
For Linton, it’s another year of enjoying football success and getting a late start on basketball preparation.
But Joey Hart, beginning his 15th year as a head coach and third year with the Miners, doesn’t sound worried as his basketball squad gets ready for its season-opening matchup Saturday at North Knox.
“We have a veteran team, so we should be competitive right away,” insisted Hart, whose Miners finished 12-10 overall and 3-5 in the SWIAC in ’11-12.
Ready to carry the load again are 6-5 senior Dess Fougerousse (averaging 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per outing last season), 6-8 senior Austin Karazsia (15.5 ppg and 8 rpg) and 6-1 senior Sam Dyar.
Hart said the other two starters will come from 6-4 senior Jackson Bohnert, 6-0 senior Keith Fulk and 6-1 junior Bryant Jackson.
“We should be good, I think, if we can stay healthy,” Hart said of his Miners. “The kids had a nice summer and they’ve worked hard.”
Looking at the SWIAC, won by Eastern Greene with an 8-0 mark last season, Hart doesn’t see any reason why Linton shouldn’t be in the mix of top contenders this season.
Shakamak coach Steve Brett thinks the same about his Lakers, who went 14-9 overall and 6-2 in the SWIAC (second behind Eastern Greene) in 2011-12.
“We’ve got some experience,” he mentioned. “We’re not blessed with a lot of size. They’ve all filled out a little bit … and we’ve got some kids who can shoot the ball. We’ve also got some quickness. A negative might be we don’t have a lot of leadership. We’ll need somebody to step into that role.”
Brodie Crowe, a 6-2 senior who tallied almost 15 ppg a year ago, joins 5-11 senior Patrick Green and 5-10 senior Kyle Schubla as returning starters. Two others who played a lot in ’11-12 are back for another season — 6-2 junior Brandon Morin and 5-10 sophomore Dylan Collins.
Also pushing for a significant role are 5-10 junior Mark West, who has little varsity experience, and 6-4 sophomore Jeff Bessling, whom Brett thinks may start eventually. “A lot of that depends on him,” the Lakers’ coach added, perhaps dropping a hint to the player.
Shakamak won’t tip off its season until Nov. 30 when it visits Bloomfield.
Back to the SWIAC, Brett named North Daviess as another top contender to dethrone Eastern Greene. “It’s going to be much more balanced this year,” he predicted.
Clay City tied North Daviess for third in the SWIAC at 5-3 while on its way to winning the Class A White River Valley Sectional crown in ’11-12. Coach Vance Edmondson’s Eels lost to Hauser 58-50 in overtime in the Martinsville Regional to finish 15-9.
Their new-look season — seven seniors graduated since last season — will get going tonight at home against South Vermillion.
The lone returnee from the Eels’ starting lineup is 6-2 senior Blake Cesinger, who posted averages of 15.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg as a junior.
“He’s going to be our leader,” Edmondson stressed. “We’re going to rely heavily on him for just about everything.”
Clay City’s fourth-year coach mentioned 6-4 junior Josh Miller, 6-2 junior Josh Arcenal and 6-1 junior Steven Phillips as possible starters, plus he hopes to get contributions from the following sophomores — 6-0 Easton Booe, 6-1 Logan Cesinger (Blake’s younger brother), 6-2 Trevor Singer and 6-0 Evan Rogers.
“Due to our lack of size, we’re going to try to use our quickness to our advantage,” Edmondson said.
Another SWIAC team, North Central, would like to forget last season’s records of 6-16 overall and 1-7 in the conference. The Thunderbirds opened their 2012-13 campaign Tuesday night at Cloverdale.
“We’re going to have to have several guys step up and provide overall balance,” NC coach Ryan Kamman emphasized over the weekend.
The T-Birds’ only returning starter is 5-10 senior guard Tod Lebeda, whom Kamman said is the only senior in their top eight players.
Kamman anticipated 5-8 freshman point guard Gavin Stanifer, 6-3 sophomore post man Mitchell Peterson, 5-8 sophomore shooting guard Austin Jewell, 5-10 sophomore Andrew Nikirk and 5-10 junior Nick Stucker stepping in as possible starters with Lebeda.
“We’re pretty small and pretty young,” North Central’s eighth-year coach admitted.
Size-wise, he may get some help off the bench from 6-3 sophomore Loren Drake and 6-3 freshman Neal Greene, depending on how quickly they adapt to the varsity game.
Union, which concluded last season with marks of 4-18 and 0-8 respectively, will play its opener tonight at home against Bloomfield. The Bulldogs are coached by Chip Langley.
Two familiar coaching names to Wabash Valley fans — Pat Rady and Jim Jones — will be guiding teams again this season.
Entering his ninth season at Cloverdale and 49th season overall, Rady took a 714-398 career record into the Clovers’ opener at home against North Central on Tuesday. His first triumph of the season moves him into sole possession of third place on Indiana’s all-time list behind Jack Butcher and the late Howard Sharpe.
Meanwhile, Jones came out of retirement in 2012 to coach Springs Valley. Heading into the Blackhawks’ Tuesday opener at home against Mitchell, he owned a 679-381 mark. He ranks sixth on Indiana’s all-time victory list.
It’s hard to believe, but the not-that-old-looking Tom Brannan is beginning his 21st season as Marshall’s coach and he’s doing so without graduated standouts Logan Cannady and Jacob Duncan from 2011-12.
“We counted on those guys a lot,” Brannan reflected. “We’ve got to have people step up and be important players right off the bat.”
Coming off a 21-7 campaign that ended with a regional loss to Georgetown-Ridge Farm, they’ll get their first opportunity Friday against Pinckneyville in the Capital Classic at Lawrenceville.
The Lions have two returning starters who scored about 10 ppg last season — 6-1 senior guard Thomas Sisson and 6-5 senior center Taylor Maurer — plus they have 6-2 senior guard Walker Berner, who started some last season.
New starters appear to be 6-2 senior forward Cray Bloodworth and 6-2 junior guard Drew Morris.
“I really think one of our strengths is we’ll be a team where you have to guard everybody,” Brannan predicted. “On any given night, any one of them could lead us in scoring.”
Marshall’s key reserves are likely to be 5-10 senior Cole Rice and 6-3 sophomore Keegan Steele.
Turning his attention to the Little Illini Conference, Brannan discussed the addition of Robinson, Olney and Newton to its roster of schools.
“That definitely adds a new dynamic to the conference,” he pointed out, adding that Robinson then Casey should be the favorites to emerge on top of the standings.
“I think we’re one of the top teams after Robinson.”
The Apollo Conference — where Robinson, Olney and Newton came from — added Mattoon to give it six teams this season. Paris will leave the Apollo to join the LIC in 2014.
But first things first.
Paris third-year coach Shawn Nugent, whose team finished 9-18 last season, called Effingham the favorite to win the Apollo this winter.
“I think we’re one of the top three teams,” he added. “I like our team. I feel like we can play seven or eight guys comfortably. … We’ll try to hang our hats on defense. We’ll be able to throw different looks at [opposing] teams. If we can shoot the ball a little bit, we should be OK.”
The Tigers have three returning starters, although one of them — 6-1 senior guard Landon Larrance — will miss the early part of the season with an illness. The other two are 6-3 junior forward Riley Spencer (who averaged close to 10 ppg in ’11-12) and 5-9 junior guard Audie Temples.
Nugent said the new starters will come from 5-9 senior guard Stewart Arp, 6-0 senior point guard Aaron Bain and 6-5 junior center Zack Lueken.
Paris’ opener was slated to be Tuesday against St. Thomas More in the Danville Schlarman Topper Classic.
Turning back to Clark County, Casey third-year coach Steve Hawkins has three returning starters — 6-3 junior guard/forward Brandon Wolfe (averaging 16.0 ppg last season), 6-0 junior guard Zach Murphy (11.0 ppg) and 6-3 senior forward Matt McCown — from a squad that finished 15-12 overall and 6-2 (tied for third) in the LIC.
Another who saw significant action a year ago is back in the form of 6-3 senior guard/forward Trivette Scales.
“This is an exciting year for our basketball program and expectations are high from within,” Hawkins said in an e-mail. “We have a lot of players returning that have a lot of varsity experience and we have four players returning that received postseason mention last season from the LIC coaches. … I look for [Wolfe’s] scoring numbers to continue to increase again this year. He puts in the time to be a great player and I believe the entire area will see his skills in play this season.”
Casey will debut next Tuesday at Sullivan, Ill.