Paige Grider, DN File
Muncie-area high school boys' basketball season preview
Thanksgiving week means the start of boys' basketball across the state of Indiana. With a majority of teams starting their 2019-20 seasons this week, here is a look at each team in the surrounding Muncie area.
The Bearcats are coming off of a 13-11 season last year. The good news for Muncie Central is it returns its leading scorer from last season in senior guard Victor Young. Young led the team with 14.8 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per game. The Bearcats, however, lost Reggie Bass, who was the team's second-leading scorer with 12.9 points per game, to a prep school.
“I think the kids love one another. They play good team ball. They fall for each other,” Muncie Central head coach Chandler Thompson said. “There are some new players that are starting to make their mark.”
Playing as a team will be the theme for Muncie Central this year. This season will begin on Nov. 26 when Muncie Central travels to take on Hamilton Southeastern.
Under a new head coach, the Tigers are attempting to bounce back after a 5-17 season. Yorktown will return two of its three top scorers from last season, but junior point guard Daiviante Osuna will be out for the season with a torn ACL he recently suffered.
“Our expectations are that we need to put a product on the floor, win or lose, and the fans walk out of the gym appreciating what they just saw,” Yorktown head coach Matt Moulton said. “I want my players to play the right way, and I want them to play for each other.”
Despite only having five wins last season, Yorktown had a couple of big wins. It defeated both Greenfield-Central and Liberty Christian by nine points. The Tigers will tip off the season when they host Muncie Central Nov. 30.
The senior-laden team looks to piggyback off of its success from last season. The Raiders will be led by a group of four seniors who all had significant roles last season. Wapahani finished with a 17-7 record last season. Its season came to an end in the Sectional Championship when it fell to Frankton by just three points. Senior guard Drew Luce led the team with 14.6 points per game last year.
“We kind of have a bullseye on our back. A lot of teams are going to give us their best shot and want to beat us,” Wapahani head coach Matt Luce said. “We feel like we have a good nucleus that is going to help lead to a successful season.”
Wapahani has had 12 straight winning seasons under Luce. The Raiders will start their journey toward making it 13 straight when they travel to Southwood Nov. 26.
The Blackhawks finished with a 6-17 record last season. Cowan graduated its second-leading scorer from last season in senior guard Declan Gill. He averaged 11.9 points per game. It will be junior guard Jacob Thomas who will look to fill that role. Thomas averaged 8.1 points per game last season.
“Last year, we were more 3-point orientated. This year, we can throw the ball inside. I think we have the people to do that now,” Cowan head coach Lee Ingles said. “We have a good core group of guys coming back that can lead us in the right direction.”
Cowan will begin the season Nov. 30 when it travels to Hagerstown. Last season, the Blackhawks fell to the Tigers, 55-46.
The Bruins finished with a 17-6 record last season. Blackford fell to an undefeated Delta team in Sectionals. Junior guard Luke Brown looks to lead this team even further this year. Brown averaged 35 points per game last season.
“When you have a player like that, you have to build around his talent,” Blackford head coach Jerry Hoover said. “He is an unusual shooter, so we want him to have the basketball a lot.”
Blackford has improved its schedule from last season. It will compete in the North Daviess tournament over Christmas break. Last season, three out of the eight teams from that tournament ended up in the final eight in the state of Indiana. The Bruins get things going on Nov. 26 when they face Bloomington Lighthouse.
The Golden Bears return a majority of their talent from last season. Junior guard Jackson Ullom led the team in scoring last season with 18 points per game. Senior guard Will Jones, who averaged 13.2 points per contest, will also look to increase his a role on the team.
“Our top two scorers, both guards, had great summers. We expect those two guys to lead us in scoring and get us organized,” Monroe Central head coach Justin Ullom said. “We are going to be deeper and faster than we’ve been in a long time. It is a pretty exciting brand of basketball to watch.”
Coach Ullom will look to obtain win No. 70 this season. In his sixth season with the program, he is only two wins away from doing that. The Golden Bears get things going Dec. 3 when they travel to Tipton.
Coming off a historic regular season last year, The Eagles look to follow suit with what they were able to accomplish last season. Delta went a perfect 23-0 in the regular season. The Eagles came up just six points short in the Regional Championship to Marion. Delta graduated its top scorer from last season in senior guard Josh Bryan, who averaged 22.9 points per game. Returning five of its top seven is a big factor for Delta.
“We got three guys who were starters the last three years for us. They are going to have big years for us,” Delta head coach Mark Detwieler said. “We are a really together group. We are connected. That makes them fun and enjoyable to watch.”
The three returners Detwieler mentioned are junior forward Brady Hunt, senior point guard Zach Garner and senior shooting guard Josh Greenburg. Those three accounted for 21.8 points per game combined last season for the Eagles. Delta looks to extend its regular-season win streak to 26 straight when it hits the road to take on Connersville Nov. 30. The Eagles have not lost a regular-season game since Feb. 8, 2018, when they fell to New Castle.
The Warriors finished three games above .500 last season with a 13-10 record. Wes-Del returns its top five leading scorers from last season. The Warriors were led in scoring by now-senior forward Caeden McClaughry, who averaged 12.8 points per game last season. Wes-Del lost to Liberty Christian in a close first round Sectional matchup, 73-71.
“I know it left a sour taste in their mouth. We will use that to learn and finish games better,” Wes-Del head coach John McGlothin said. “We are going to have to make a real concentrated effort to rebound and defend.”
The Warriors will look to make it two straight winning seasons this year, returning their top talent from last season and looking to piggyback off of their success from a year ago. They begin the 2019-20 campaign at home against Elwood.
Despite losing their top talent from last season, the Owls return two players who averaged in double figures last season. A 5-18 finish last year was not ideal for head coach Joseph Anderson. Burris will look for its first winning season under Anderson and its first winning season since 2011-12 when it finished 16-8.
“We return seven players from last season. We are looking to get off to a good start this year and carry that momentum through the entire season,” Anderson said. “We are going to be exciting to watch. We are going to get at it on both ends of the floor.”
Junior forward Grant Jones will be the player to watch for Burris this year. Last year, Jones contributed 13.2 points per game. Jones said he’s noticed this season’s team chemistry is different from last year.
“This is the most committed our guys have been for a long time,” Jones said. “Win every game, give it our all,and play together.”
Burris will start the season Nov. 26 when it faces off against Blue River. The Owls will host a tournament during Thanksgiving weekend. They will play Danville in the first round at noon Saturday.
The Broncos had an up-and-down season last year, finishing with an 8-15 record. Daleville lost its top two leading scorers from last season: then-senior guard Derrick Lawrence and then-senior forward Will Mckinney, who totaled more than 23 points per game of offense. The Broncos do return senior guard Connor Fleming, who averaged 10.2 points per game as a junior last season.
The 1A program will start its 2019-20 campaign the day before Thanksgiving. It will host Shenandoah. The Broncos have not beaten the Raiders since the 2012-13 season. Head coach Tyler Stotler begins his third season with Daleville this year. He has an overall record of 20-25 with the Broncos.