Boys prep hoops preseason countdown: #7 WOODLAN WARRIORS
The Warriors get a high ranking in our preseason poll mostly because of the play of senior Aaron Hahn, who averaged 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists last year as a junior. He can play any position on the floor, even point guard and center, offensively or defensively. He’s also pretty good at getting the rest of his teammates involved in the offense and helping them out defensively.
Hahn can do it all, which brings more expectations and responsibilities.
“Teams in the conference know the best players on each team, but there are going to be times when I have to give the ball to the other guys,” Hahn said. “If that’s what I have to do to win, that’s always my main goal, to win.”
The Warriors are coming off a 12-11 season when they tied with Heritage for the Allen County Athletic Conference regular-season title last year.
There’s not much height as Hahn and fellow senior Micah Robbins are 6-foot-3, as is sophomore Mitch Mendenhall. The center may be Ah’Lan Howard, who is 6-2.
“He’s (Howard) got a huge wingspan, and he’s amazing athlete,” said coach David Randall. Howard is also the fastest player in the conference. “I can get away with playing a 6-2 kid at center in our conference, but I couldn’t get away with that in some other conferences. I had him there a lot last year. He’s like a lot of kids, he just wants to play. We’re kind of a position-less team.”
Robbins averaged 4.3 points and Howard 4.2 last year. Junior Jack Stuckey may be the all-around swingman who helps out in the frontcourt or the backcourt, depending on the present need.
“He (Stuckey) is going to sneak up on some people this year,” Randall said. “He doesn’t look like much when he goes out there, but he has a great motor. He is the textbook definition of an intangible guy because he can play all over the place. He does whatever you ask him as hard as he can.”
That could be concentrating on rebounding because, other than Hahn, it’s an area the Warriors could need some help.
Seniors Matthew Elias and Lucas Bertsche will add depth off the bench.
The guard positions may be a little more up in the air. Jack Rhoades was slated to be the frontrunner for the point guard spot, but he has decided to not play basketball and focus on football. It is a big loss, as Rhoades was set to be one of the few returning guards with experience.
Aiden Bayman and Trevor Wiedenhoeft could also get significant playing time.
“It could be Aaron (Hahn), it could be some of these sophomores,” Randall said. “Aaron is going to play everywhere depending on how the game is going and where we need him. I’m fortunate to have somebody who can do that.”
THE BIG QUESTION
Who’s going to develop as a secondary scorer to help Hahn?
Though they lack a little size, the Warriors have talent, but Randall has to figure out who plays with whom and where it all fits together. That might be complicated if the Woodlan football team goes on a long playoff trek, which Randall said he would love because of what it would mean for the school.
“We just have a lot of kids who are in roles they haven’t been in,” he said. “Aaron has done this role for three years, so I know what I’m going to get out of him, but the other kids I’m not as sure. I have some kids who are playing varsity again this year, but last year they were coming off the bench. I hope I don’t get some of them until Thanksgiving.”
BIG GAME TO WATCH
As balanced as the ACAC seems to be going in, this question may not be answered until late in the second half of the season, but Randall said he always points to East Allen County Schools and rivals Heritage, New Haven and Leo. New Haven, Leo and Woodlan are now all in the same sectional. Last year, the Warriors beat Heritage by three points in the conference tournament and lost to the Patriots by four in the regular-season rematch on the road. This year’s regular-season game is Jan. 19 at Woodlan.