A 9-15 record at the end of the 2018-2019 high school basketball team seemed to be a misleading one for West Vigo's Vikings, who continually — from game to game or even from quarter to quarter — looked like they were ready to break out and become really good.
That's what coach Joe Boehler thought too.
"I felt like we were in a lot of close games last year," he said recently. "If we'd made a few plays here and there, we could've won a few more games."
Often the problem was a simple one, although not necessarily one with a simple solution. When the ball went in the basket for them, the Vikings were good. The ball didn't always do that.
"Defensively we weren't too bad," Boehler agreed, "but sometimes we struggled to put the ball in the basket.
"We were very young [last season]," the coach added. "We've got several upperclassmen with experience, and hopefully that will pay off for us . . . in practice, it feels like we have the ability to score more points this year."
Returning as full-time starters are 6-foot-3 senior Sean Roberts, one of the team's top scoring threats a year ago, and 6-0 senior Kaleb Hannahs, perhaps the Vikings' most improved scorer from the beginning of last season until the end.
Players with some starting experience are 5-6 senior Zion Stephens and 6-1 senior Dane Andrews, although Andrews might be hampered for awhile by a football injury. Case Lautenschlager, a 6-1 junior, probably played starter minutes in a few games last season; 6-3 junior Gabe Newhouse lettered as a varsity reserve last year; and 6-1 senior Ethan Burgess has returned to the court after starting for the Vikings as a sophomore.
Also batting for playing time are 6-3 senior Skyler Page, 5-8 junior Imare Holman, 5-9 sophomore Ian Beaver, 6-3 sophomore Trenton Broderick and 5-5 sophomore Ethan Kesler.
The Vikings open tonight at home against North Vermillion, the start of what Boehler feels is a rugged set of opponents. He's cautiously optimistic, however.
"We've gotten better [since practice started], and I kind of like where we're at," Boehler said. "The attitudes are great and the effort is really good. We'll just have to wait and see."