The Three Rivers Conference and Western Ohio Athletic Conference basketball teams will tip-off the season Friday.
Caleb South makes the move to coach the boys after going 20-3 with the girls team a year ago.
The Bees are coming off a 10-14 season.
Returning letterwinners include Mike Halleg, Jason Bowen and Remi Brannan.
Halleg, a 6-foot sophomore will lead the guards with Bowen (6-0, senior) and Jonas Friend (6-0, sophomore).
Halleg averaged 9.9 points and a year ago and Bowen averaged 4.1 rebounds.
Brannan, a 6-2 sophomore will lead the way inside, along with 6-5 sophomore Cameron Ahrens.
Brannan averaged 5.9 rebounds a year ago.
The Bees will run an uptempo, fast and free flowing offense and be aggressive on defense.
“It is a very good conference and we are grateful for the opportunity to compete in it,” South said about the TRC.
Matt Gibbins returns for his third season as Covington coach.
The Buccs finished 5-17 a year ago.
The returning letterwinners include senior Mic Barhorst, juniors Britton Miller, Bryson Hite, Gunner Kimmel and Connor Humphrey and sophomores Tanner Palsgrove and Brogen Angle.
Miller will lead the guards after averaging 8,8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists a year ago.
Barhorst averaged 5.0 a game last year and they will be joined on the perimeter by Hite, Palsgrove and Angle.
Kimmel and Humphrey lead the way inside.
Covington will run an open post motion offense and mix things up on defense between man and zone.
Gibbins expects the TRC to be a battle.
“The conference is extremely competitive from the top to the bottom,Gibbins said. “We play a home and an away game with each conference team and so we become very familiar with the players and teams in the conference. A lot of the first and second team all league players are back for another year including the conference player of the year.
“When two teams from this conference are playing, fans should expect a hard fought battle in order to secure a win.”
Pat Carlisle returns as Cavalier coach.
Lehman seeks its fourth straight winning season after going 13-10 last season.
Donovan O’Leary, a 6-3 junior is back to leads the guards, along with Bruner (6-2, senior).
O’Leary averaged 9.4 points and 3.0 assists a year ago.
The other returner is 6-8 senior Justin Chapman, who averaged 13.7 points and 10.8 rebounds a year ago.
Lehman will run a motion offense with a lot of ball movement, flair and backscreens.
On defense, the Cavaliers will mix it up between man and zone.
Carlisle expects the TRC to be a challenge again.
”It will be a very competitive conference as the three co-champions from 2021-22 return 13 of the 15 starters,” Carlisle said. Like our first year in the conference, we will battle and be competitive with the bigger schools in the conference.”
Justin Roeth returns as coach.
The Vikings bring back a talented group from last year’s 16-7 team.
Returning letterwinners include 6-1 senior Mitchel Kemp, 6-5 senior Matthew VanPelt, 6-2 junior Devin Abshire, 6-3 junior Connor Apple, 6-2 junior Andrew Crane, 6-2 junior Wes Enis, 5-9 junior Camren Monnin, 6-1 junior Jacob Roeth and 6-1 sophomore Bryce Haught.
Enis averaged 19.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.4 steals, while Roeth averaged 18.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 3.0 steals.
Apple averaged 7.3 points last year, while Kemp averaged 5.6 rebounds and Abshire averaged 5.3 rebounds while being limited to six games due to an injury
Both Abshire and Kemp bring a lot of athletic ability and a needed inside presence.
VanPelt, Andrew Crane, Camren Monnin and Haught look to provide depth to an experienced roster. Rounding out the roster are newcomers Luke Hamaker (5-9, junior), 6-3 sophomore Vincent Crane and 6-2 sophomore Kamden Wolfe.
“Milton Union and Troy Christian are the Three Rivers Conference favorites as they are very well coached and bring back a lot of players from their successful teams last year,” Justin Roeth said. “There will be multiple other teams in the TRC who have a lot of potential. Lehman, Northridge, Bethel, Riverside, and Covington have lots of talent and can also be in contention.
”The TRC proved to be an extremely competitive league as last year’s title was shared three ways. This year’s outlook projects similarly, as every game will be highly contested and, as a result, will definitely be a fun winter of boys’ basketball.”
Roeth has high goals for his team.
“As an experienced team returning multiple letterman, our motivation is to claim the Three Rivers Conference title,” he said. “We’ve committed to consistency, while sustaining a mindset of playing hard nightly and improve in every opportunity. We’ll look to improve upon our offensive output (56 points per game) while holding opponents below our 47 points per game average in 21-22.
“Although we return a lot of experience, the expectations increase as well. Along with the strength of the TRC, our non-conference schedule has been upgraded as we visit Westerville North, Minster, Troy and past non-conference foes Versailles, Anna, Meadowdale, West Liberty, and Graham. We will look to our leadership to ensure those high expectations and goals are met.”
Rusty Berner returns as coach.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 19-5 season a year.
Leading the guards will be 6-2 senior Blake Brumbaugh, 6-4 senior Cooper Brown, 6-0 senior Carson Brown and 5-9 senior Tyler Kress. Joining them will be 6-1 junior Braden Schauer, Gavin Guess, 5-11 junior Zach Lovin and 6-1 sophomore Wyatt Kimmel.
Brumbaugh averaged 19,3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 3.0 steals, while Cooper Brown averaged 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.6 steals.
Back inside will be 6-5 senior Connor Yates and he will be joined by 6-3 senior Ethan Lane.
Yates averaged 11.0 points and 6.6 rebounds a year ago.
Milton will mix things up on offense with transition and variety of half-court sets.
On defense, it will be a mix of man and zone defenses with pressure.
Berner expects the conference to be extremely competitive, with so many teams returning key players.
Ray Zawadzki returns as Troy Christian coach.
The Eagles finished 18-6 a year ago.
The roster includes 6-5 senior Ben Major, 6-3 senior Kyle Sebor, 6-3 junior Alex Free, 5-11 junior Parker Penrod, 5-11 junior Christian Brusman, 5-8 junior Matthew Wynne, 5-8 junior Josiah Myers, 6-2 junior Vaughn King, 6-6 junior Frank Rupnik and 5-11 junior Ethan Grise.
Penrod averaged 13.2 points and 3.8 assists a year ago, while Major 8.1 points.
Free averaged 5.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 3.0 steals.
Jay Hall returns as coach.
Bradford is coming off a 13-8 season a year ago.
The Railroaders return the top scorer in the conference in 6-3 senior Parker Davidson.
He averaged 28.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.0 steals a year ago.
Six-foot junior guard Hudson Hill averaged 10.6 points last year, while 5-10 sophomore guard Owen Canan averaged 9.3.
Landon Wills, a 6-3 junior, averaged 7.6 rebounds last year.
Gavin Spitler returns as Newton coach.
The Indians finished 13-11 a year ago.
Newton returns Hudson Montgomery and Quinn Peters at the guard position and Harold Oburn inside.
Montgomery, a 5-11 senior, averaged 9.2 points a year ago, while 6-4 senior Oburn averaged a double-double with 13.0 points and 10.0 rebounds a year ago.
Key newcomers include seniors Aaron Colvin, Mason Brumbaugh, and Aiden Kelley; juniors Carson Tucker, Ty Schauer, Bryce Toney and Quentin Webb and sophomore Max Newhouse.
“Tri-Village, Preble-Shawnee, Arcanum, and Bradford are all returning key players from top four teams in the league last year,” Spitler said. “There are several quality teams throughout the league with key returning players. The league will be tough from top to bottom.
Spitler hopes to finish in the top three in the WOAC.
Sports Editor Rob Kiser can be reached at [email protected]