TH NORTH PREVIEW: Physicality? North's boys gradually getting bigger

Tribune-Star file/Joseph C. Garza

Victory’s embrace: Terre Haute North’s Mark Hankins gets hugged by teammate Mahki Johnson after the Patriots defeated Decatur Central last season at North. Although Johnson has graduated since then, Hankins should be one of North’s senior leaders this season.

When South Vermillion High School boys basketball coach Shawn Nevill said after Friday's scrimmage that a value of facing Terre Haute North was to confront "physicality we're not going to see" during the regular season, it had to warm the heart of Patriot coach Todd Woelfle.

Make no mistake, Terre Haute North is still not a huge team (something that will probably be obvious Wednesday when they open their regular season at home against Mooresville, which is a huge team). But . . .

"We have some length and size for the first time in 10 years," Woelfle pointed out that night. "We have a lot of pieces, and hopefully we can put it together."

Coming off a 12-12 season last year — North's third straight season with 12 wins, after winning 13 the previous year — the fact that there's even a little size for Woelfle to work with seems to be reason for optimism, because the Patriots are pretty consistent about the other things they do.

Three starters return: 6-foot junior point guard and 6-5 seniors Mark Hankins and Colin Frank. The latter two are tall and long if not especially bulky — a combined weight not much more than 300 pounds — but both have considerable offensive skills.

North's other two starters at the scrimmage were 6-2 forward Ethan Scott and 5-11 guard Damon Sturm, both up from the junior varsity team. Jaden Wayt, a 6-3 junior, was unavailable on Friday but is a potential starter when he gets healthy.

"The JV team was 18-2 last year," Woelfle pointed out, "and a deep junior class needs to contribute immediately."

Others in the junior group, alphabetically, are 6-2 Cole Higham (who has some decent Patriot bloodlines), 5-8 Jayden Moore, 5-8 Chris Owens and 6-0 twins Alex and Isaac Ross. Bryce Maxwell, a 6-0 senior — and another 2022 valedictorian, Woelfle said — is also in the mix for playing time.

Four sophomores will split time between varsity and junior varsity, unless one or more makes himself necessary for the varsity. Those four are 6-1 Kam Baker, 6-6 Jack Halls, 6-2 Kavish Reddy and 6-4 Justin Strole.

"We have chemistry and great leadership from our seniors," Woelfle said. The younger players, he noted, "will have to quickly transition to varsity pace and strength."

After Wednesday's opener, North will play Evansville Central in the fourth of six games Saturday in Hulman Center, then will be on the road for two weeks (games at Bedford, Vincennes, West Vigo and Bloomington South).

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