FORT WAYNE – Fremont has six players with varsity experience from last years NECC regular-season championship team.
Theres no replacement for experience in high school varsity basketball, Fremont coach Ted Bookwalter said.
That group includes seniors Tyler Jenkins, Jordan Schmucker, Jake Bryant and Austin Corcimiglia.
The kids played really great team basketball last year, Bookwalter said. I was really proud of them. They had to win nine in a row to win conference.
Alex Beams and Nate Beatty are also back from last year. Two other juniors, Logan Peel and Tony LaRose, will help with defense and rebounding.
The Eagles went 15-7 and 9-1 in conference games. A repeat will have to start with the senior leaders.
Our four core guys have to raise their games, Bookwalter said. All of them have worked very hard this summer.
West Noble is another experienced team.
Last year was my first year with them. Last year they were learning my expectations and what I wanted from them. This year, theyve started out pretty strong and have shown some leadership, West Noble coach Jim Best said.
Last year we struggled with some turnovers. I think were going to take care of the ball better this year.
Nick Noe, who is 6-foot-7, Nick Thomas, Armando Rosales, Keith Gibson, Phil Miller and Drew Schermerhorn are among the players back. Schermerhorn earned All-NECC honors.
Westview, coming off an 8-2 conference season, Lakeland and Fairfield will also be in the mix.
Prairie Heights looks to rebound from a 4-6 conference season.
Alex Vice, a 6-1 senior guard who was all conference last year, is back to lead Central Noble. Vice averaged 11 points and 5 rebounds.
Our keys to success will be defensive rebounding and our ability to control the tempo of each game, coach Brett Burrough said.
Angola has a new coach in Ed Bentley.
We have taken huge physical and mental steps to becoming much more competitive, Bentley said.
The strong nucleus includes guard Simon Brown, an All-NECC selection from last year, Ryan Gaff, Aaron Lloyd and Justin Davis.
Churubusco has no returning lettermen or seniors. Corey Sarrazin, Hayden Kilgore, Brent Simmons and T.J. Campbell will lead the young squad.
Were excited for our young kids, Churubusco coach Michael McBride said. We think they have a lot of potential to be very good.
Ryan Abbott is Eastsides third coach in four years. Jayden Lilly, Ryan Liechty and Jared Yoder are among the players helping the Blazers.
Were starting from the ground up, trying to build that togetherness and toughness, Abbott said. If we have those two things year in and year out, we can compete at a level that we want to.
Casey Rote (7.3 points, 5 rebounds per game) and Brett Converset (8 points) return to lead Hamilton.