The fact that Wayne High School has started the boy’s basketball season at 3-0 is not much of a surprise, but the convincing way that the Generals have done so may very well be.
Coach Aaron Rehrer’s team has notched wins over Bellmont, Heritage and Lakewood Park to begin the year, with the average margin of victory being 31 points.
While some teams are struggling with consistency this early in the season, Wayne appears to be in mid-season form in many respects. And some of that is due to the Generals’ approach on the court.
“We are … a team that’s going to play extremely hard,” Rehrer said. “I haven’t questioned that any day this year as far as that goes.”
While the Mitchell brothers – Justin, Levi and Jecsus – have helped pace Wayne on both ends of the court, a newcomer has also had an impact.
Bishop Luers High School transfer Cameron Leshore has added additional quickness to the Generals’ backcourt. The 5-foot-6 guard scored 21 points against Lakewood Park last Friday and 16 earlier in the week against Heritage.
“(Leshore) is very much like a Mitchell,” Rehrer said. “I’d probably say he is one of the quickest guards in the city, and one of the quickest I’ve ever seen.”
Wayne has just two games before the Summit Athletic Conference Holiday Tournament (Dec. 26), both being league match-ups. The Generals open SAC play Friday at Northrop, before hosting Snider Dec. 20.
Saints gain one, lose one
Bishop Dwenger will finally kick off their basketball season Friday at Concordia Lutheran, but will do so without one key returnee.
Saints’ senior Ryan Watercutter, who averaged 7 points and 4 rebounds per game a year ago, has elected to not play basketball after playing tight end and safety during a run to the IHSAA Class 4A Football State Championship game.
Watercutter started on the basketball court for the Saints in the latter half of his sophomore season and was a mainstay in the starting lineup last winter.
Despite the loss, Bishop Dwenger coach Matt Kostoff still brings back plenty of production for a team that many consider a dark horse in the SAC race.
“Not having Ryan is going to hurt us,” Kostoff said. “But bringing back (senior guard Mike Fiacable) is a big positive.”
Fiacable sat out last year with a torn ACL suffered in football season and was Bishop Dwenger’s second-leading scorer his sophomore season.
Altogether, the Saints have six players on the varsity roster that played football, which has led to a quick turnaround time. Kostoff gave the football players a few days off last week, with all of them joining the team by Thursday.
The half-dozen footballers joined proven veterans Grady Eifert, Kyle Hartman, Ryan Christman and others preparing for a stretch of five games in eight days beginning Friday leading up to the SAC Holiday Tournament.
“Obviously, we are going to have to play a lot of numbers,” said Kostoff about the condensed schedule. “But I know that kids would rather play than practice.”
Bluffton gets after it
In terms of scheduling philosophy, some coaches like to have a significant amount of practice time early in the season and backload their schedules for the latter part of the season.
Tiger coach Kevin Leising is not one of those.
The Tigers (3-1) play eight games over the first four weeks of this season, including a pair of back-to-back Friday-Saturday games.
That also doesn’t include Bluffton opening up the year with a game the night before Thanksgiving and then turning around to play that Saturday with hardly any practice time between the two.
This past weekend, Bluffton opened up Allen County Athletic Conference play Friday with a win against South Adams, before knocking off Jay County in double overtime Saturday on the road.
“We don’t mind playing double (game) weekends early because we are pushing for March,” Leising said. “We learned so many things (Saturday) we couldn’t have learned (otherwise).”
The victory Saturday was particularly impressive after one of Bluffton’s few veterans, forward Mike Pearson, fouled out on the first play of overtime.
The Tigers responded without their most experienced player to earn the 47-43 win.
“You can beat the (junior varsity) 100-0 only so much,” said Leising when talking about the advantages of Bluffton’s schedule. “(This weekend) was good for our team.”
* Former Bishop Luers standout James Blackmon Jr. had “only” 39 points Saturday for Class 4A No. 8 Marion after dropping 54 against Indianapolis Irvington Prep in the season opener. The Giants fell to No. 12 Lawrence North, 85-84.
* Leo’s 57 points in its eight-point win over Heritage on Friday was the lowest total in a Lions’ victory since a 55-33 win over Adams Central on Feb. 7, 2009.