Sometime between now and late December, Tippecanoe Valley is going to play nine boys basketball games. And unless the Vikings lose three of them, its coach, Bill Patrick, will claim his 700th career victory in 43 years of coaching.
That’s what they tell me, Patrick says from his cellphone.
Eventually the milestone will arrive, which is why Patrick is low-key about all this. After all, he’s seen wins No. 500 and 600 come and go, only to start work on the next hundred.
After an uncharacteristic three straight losing seasons, the bleeding stopped last season for the Vikings when they won 16 of 21 games. Could have been more, but after a 10-game winning streak, Valley lost its last two games of the season, including the sectional opener.
The smart money around the Mentone/Akron area is this year’s group will be a tough out come tournament time.
Four starters, including 6-foot senior guard Nick Kindig, who averaged 20 points last season, return.
If we don’t have injuries and work at it, we could be a pretty competitive ball club, Patrick said.
To accompany Kindig is 6-3 junior Tanner Andrews, who averaged 15.7 points last season. And the other starters returning are guards Jacob Ritchey and Robbie Groom, who averaged 11 between them.
Patrick will be getting some size off last year’s junior varsity team. Logan Britton is 6-4 and Dereck Cunningham is 6-2. They’ll be paired with 6-3 sophomore Chainey Zolman and sophomore guard Alex Thacker.
I think we should be able to score, which, in the last couple years, we haven’t had the scoring power, Patrick said.
While he is a long way from 700 wins, Canterbury’s newest boys coach has had his share of success.
After leading the Cavaliers to four state girls Class A titles in the last five years, Scott Kreiger takes over as the boys coach.
A pair of double-figure scorers departed via graduation in Davis Rao (15.2) and Kai Foday (10.3), but Canterbury is blessed with talent, nevertheless. Trent VanHorn, a solid 6-3 forward with a 22-point scoring average last season, heads the list of returnees. Chase Moyle and Grant Sinn combined to average nearly nine points last season.
We’ve got a nice mix of some veterans, some kids who have had success in the past couple years, and decent young kids, Kreiger said. It’s a matter of how quickly we can blend everything together.
The status of Austin Hatch, a promising forward who was injured in a June 2011 plane crash, remains questionable. Hatch, who had committed to Michigan, began limited practices.
Huntington North also gets a new, veteran coach.
Rob Irwin, who coached at Carroll and Whitko, will begin his first season with the Vikings. Seniors Noah Reed and Kalvin Miller averaged nearly 27 points between them last season.
Warsaw will look to replace the likes of Lucas Grose and Jordyn Coon.