The Buckeye Valley boys basketball team has shown an ability to grow and improve throughout head coach Andy Gast’s tenure.

After finishing 9-14 in the 2013-14 season, Gast’s first running the show, the Barons finished 15-8 the following winter and 18-7 last season.

Last year’s team was 12-2 in MOAC-Red Division play, winning the league title for the fifth time in six seasons.

The Barons were loaded with senior leadership. This year, though, with just one varsity player returning to the fold — senior forward Braxton Wells — BV’s ability to grow and improve will be put to the test big time.

“We graduated five key seniors that will need to be replaced,” Gast said. “We will be very young and inexperienced at each position on the floor, but we will hopefully benefit from playing a very rigorous non-conference schedule.”

The Barons open the season Saturday against visiting Delaware Hayes. They also have non-league showdowns against Briggs, Africentric, Bishop Watterson, Olentangy Orange, Marion-Franklin, South and Mifflin.

Wells was a versatile player who did a little bit of everything for the Barons last season. He averaged 5.5 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.

Gast said junior guard Ethan Crawford is also expected to see plenty of playing time.

“Ethan will provide us with scoring and he will also be our team’s best defensive player,” Gast said. “He will play a major role.”

Others on the roster include seniors Nathan Edington (6-7 forward), Nick Roden (5-9 guard) and Ben Spaulding (6-0 guard); juniors Aaron Watson (6-3 forward), Bronson Kurtz (5-10 guard), Austin Richard (6-3 forward), Elijah Jackson (5-9 guard) and Gavin Shearer (5-10 guard); and freshman Dylan Herbert (5-11 guard).

Despite the inexperience, Gast likes his group.

“We play hard and our kids are learning and being very coachable,” he said. “Even though we’re young, we will compete.”

By Ben Stroup

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Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.