It seems like every year the Delaware Hayes boys basketball team has to replace its top scorer, and this season is no different.
Will Yoakum, who averaged 19.2 points per game last season, has moved on to play at West Liberty at the NCAA Division II level.
Yoakum joins a list of former Pacers currently playing at the college level such as Griffin Kinney (Appalachian State), Mike Wells (Saginaw Valley State), Phil Frentsos (Ashland), Alex Stevens (Ohio Dominican), Khalil Iverson (Wisconsin) and Zach McIntire (Mercyhurst).
Outside of Yoakum, the Pacers lost Kameron Beekman, Sam Midura and Anthony Rodgers to graduation.
So, who’s next?
Odds are that it’s junior Terin Kinsway, who averaged 11.3 points, seven rebounds and just short of two assists per game – the latter two led the team last season.
Kinsway not only enters his third season at the varsity level, but his third season as a starter.
“He works at (his game) so much that even when we don’t have anything for him – he’s always working on something in the gym or at the (YMCA),” said Delaware coach Jordan Blackburn, who is entering his ninth season. “I always forget that he’s only a junior because he’s a three-year starter and he just gets it.”
Still, 19.2 per game is a lot of points to replace. So, where will Blackburn look for production?
Spoiler alert: it’s not going to be just one guy.
“We don’t need to replace (Yoakum) with one guy,” Blackburn said. “It’s the same thing on defense. Sam Midura was one of the best defenders we’ve ever had. I don’t think we can replace him individually.”
Outside of Kinsway, the Pacers return four letterwinners led by sophomores Nate Griggs (guard), Addison Harvey (guard) and Paul Burris (forward) and senior guard Tracey Sumner.
Blackburn has high hopes for his newcomers to the varsity level. Seniors Paul Frentsos (guard) and Dominic Byers (forward), juniors Jwan Lyles (forward) and Jack Weller (forward) and freshman Ryan Smudz (guard) should all contribute this season.
“We’ve had a lot of guys that have had very good offseasons and have put in the time,” Blackburn said. “I think the offseason that these guys have had is something that just continues to help us grow.”
Delaware finished 11-12 last season, including 4-8 in OCC play, which was tied for fifth in the OCC-Cardinal behind champion Hilliard Bradley.
The Pacers lost at Dublin Scioto in the first round of the tournament – it’s second straight opening-round exit.
“Last year was the youngest (team) we’ve ever had,” Blackburn said. “We were a one-point loss away from having an eight-game winning streak (early in the season) playing two freshmen and a sophomore.”
Delaware opens in the Grove City Tip-Off Classic against Independence Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. and will play either host Grove City or Mifflin the following day.
Buckeye Valley boys basketball coach Andy Gast can relate to Norman Dale.
With eight players on the roster, it is going to be a lonely bench on the Baron sideline this season.
But Gast (fifth season) thinks what his Barons lack in numbers, they’ll make up for in skill and effort.
“They’re all really good basketball players,” he said. “All eight of our guys will play a lot of minutes and be really solid contributors.”
Senior Ethan Crawford (guard) highlights a group in which all eight got varsity experience last season on a squad that finished 7-16 overall and fifth in the MOAC at 5-7.
“I don’t think you’ll necessarily see his stat numbers increase. That’s (because) our younger guys are getting better and I think Ethan’s going to benefit from that,” Gast said.
Crawford led the team in points and assists, but also led in shots at 194, which was 60 more than second most. He also led the team in turnovers with 69, which wasn’t a problem for Gast. He said he needed the ball in Crawford’s hands.
This year, seniors Elijah Jackson (guard) and Austin Richard (forward) and sophomore Dylan Herbert (guard), who all saw significant time in either starting roles or off the bench, should help Crawford with the load.
“We’ve got a couple of other guys that will be able to take the load off of Ethan’s shoulders and keep him fresh. I think he’s going to be a better player because of that.”
Sophomore forwards Clark Newland and Max Stokey and junior guards Luke Lucas and Stone Foltz should all be big contributors as well. At 6-foot-5, Stokey is the tallest player on the team.
“We would hold teams to 40 and lose – we just did not have the scoring last year,” Gast said. “I think, hopefully, this year we’ll have a better ability to score the basketball.”
The MOAC loses Jonathan Alder, but gains Clear Fork and Ontario – two programs that have had success in recent history.
Along with those two, Marion Pleasant, Marion Harding and North Union present tough competition for the Barons in what Gast called “a balanced league.”
BV will face a tough non-league schedule, as always. The Barons face county competition such as Big Walnut (away Dec. 1), Olentangy Orange (home Dec. 2) and Delaware Hayes (away Feb. 16).
BW is BV’s season-opener and Orange opens the home slate.
Outside the area teams, Bishop Watterson (home Jan. 9) and Heath (home Jan. 27) are also key games on the non-league schedule.
“I’ve tried to make our schedule tough because I think it makes us better,” Gast said. “To be a really good team, you’ve got to play those great teams.”