After losing its top three scorers from the 2009-10 season, the Marion High School boys basketball team will be a different squad this season.
The Warriors offense revolved around undersized senior post players Eric Vogel and Isaac Hett last season. Hett’s midrange shot and Vogel’s tough drives were keys to the Warrior offense. Fellow senior Wil Case added long distance shooting to spike offensive production.
“We’ll probably have growing pains early,” coach Jeff McMillin said.
McMillin said the team will be more guard-oriented this year, including more presses and pressure man-to-man defense.
“I think we’ll be an improved ball handling team,” McMillin said.
Senior Jordan Versch leads the corps of returning guards. Versch started last year at the beginning of the season, while senior Mitch Cady was relegated to the bench with an injury.
“He’s got a good midrange game,” McMillin said. “All college commentators bemoan the lack of midrange play.”
Senior Dillon Richmond will also be called on to score. In a position much Hett’s last year, Richmond is a wing player who will operate on the perimeter and in the post. McMillin said Richmond is most comfortable facing up defenders from about 12 to 15 feet from the basket.
The catalyst for the Warriors offense will be sophomore point guard Jordan Hett. Hett was the Warriors sixth man last year, filling in at point guard for Drew Maddox and shooting guard. McMillin said Hett has a strong understanding of the point guard balancing act — knowing when to distribute and when to shoot.
“He can play a good game without scoring,” McMillin said of Hett. “He’s also one of our best shots. He’s not selfish.”
Junior Mikael Antoszyk will also play the point. Occasionally, the Warriors will play Antoszyk and Hett together to have two quick ball handlers and sure passers on the court at the same time.
Bolstering the Warriors group of guard and wing players are sophomores Austin Pedersen and Jacob Harper. McMillin said Pedersen and Harper are both long athletic defenders and are deft shooters.
The Warriors may struggle in the paint this season, rebounding being an early worry for McMillin.
“We’re going to have to have everybody rebound,” McMillin said. “Are we going to limit them to one shot on offense?”
The Warriors rotation of big men will include senior Dane Purkeypile and juniors Scott Jones and Colin Eurit, although Richmond, Pedersen, and Harper could play forward in smaller running lineups.
“Colin is one of our most improved guys,” McMillin said. “Most of his improvement was in the summer.”
Deciding not to divulge a starting lineup before the season, McMillin said a rotation of eight or nine players would all see significant playing time. Looking to see some time off the bench will be seniors Derek Stuchlik and Brendan Meierhoff and sophomore Ethan Hett.
The Warriors have a tough schedule from the onset of the season with possible games against Berean Academy and Remington in the Marion Classic Tuesday through Saturday.
“We have a good group of guys that work really hard. We’ll have guys that will step up,” McMillin said. “We should be a team that will be a lot better in March than in December.”