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High Schools

Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Bluffton’s Matthew Sturgeon is one of three seniors returning for the Tigers. Bluffton went 18-5, 5-2 in the ACAC last season.

Flying Jets poised to repeat

Bluffton, Leo looking to end Adams Central’s reign as champions

– Adams Central made it to regionals last season, before losing 51-49 to Westview, and the Flying Jets are poised for another long run.

“It should be another very good season for Adams Central,” coach Aaron McClure said. “We have four players returning that played heavy minutes last year when we won the ACAC and sectionals. And two or three critical players off our (junior varsity) team will move up, and we believe that are ready to play varsity basketball.”

Dalton Combs, a 6-foot-3 senior, leads the group of returning Jets that defeated Bishop Luers 74-62 in the sectional finals last season.

Combs, a two-time first-team all-conference pick, averaged 15 points and five rebounds as the Jets went 19-4, 7-0 in the ACAC.

Also back are seniors Isaac Luginbill (10 points per game) and Pierce Harris, along with junior Alex Byerly, while juniors Hayden Black, Nick Baumer and Anthony Spangler will have to help make up for the loss of star Maverick Baumer.

Adams Central’s biggest competition last season came from Leo (11-11, 6-1) and Bluffton (18-5, 5-2), and both should be solid again.

The Lions have seniors A.J. Busche and Sam Waters, and sophomore David Hardin, who combined to score more than 44 points per game last season.

“We lost great leadership in Gage Corner and Taylor Horn,” Leo coach Cary Cogdell said. “It is often overlooked, but that is the key to our team this year: Can we replace their intensity and leadership ability? Last year’s team practiced hard every day. As a result, they overachieved in the won-loss category.”

The Tigers have seniors Chandler Prible, Jackson Lambert and Matthew Sturgeon, who combined for 27 points per game, though they will have to overcome the loss of 7-footer Keith Cochran.

Garrett and Woodlan both went 3-4 in the conference last season and return two of the most exciting players in the conference.

The Railroaders have Drake Landes (16.9 points per game last season and nearing 1,000 for his career).

The Warriors have Shawn McGettigan (10.6 points).

Both teams could be factors in the ACAC race.

“We will not have as much height as last year and won’t record as many dunks, but we feel we have six kids who can score the basketball,” McClure said. “Dalton Combs and Isaac Luginbill have played since they were freshmen and are two of the best players in the conference.

“We expect to again contend for the conference and sectional championships, but we know good teams are returning as well.”