The good news for the Big Walnut boys basketball team is it has three experienced seniors back to run to the show this winter.
Ben Saxe, a 5-11 guard, 6-4 forward Alex Kelso and 6-7 post Henry von Hollen all return.
“Ben will handle the ball offensively, score and shoot the ball well for us,” second-year coach Brett Bartlett said. “He will probably be asked to defend the other team’s best guard as well. Alex will be asked to score inside and out and rebound the ball for us at both ends and Henry will hopefully provide some leadership for us. He is one of our best one-on-one defenders and shot blockers.”
Even with the senior triumvirate, though, the Golden Eagles are still pretty darn young, with the bulk of the roster rounded out by four sophomores. Not exactly bad news, but Bartlett said there will most certainly be a learning curve.
“We have a core group of sophomores who will be thrown into the varsity starting lineup this year,” Bartlett said. “They all have a pretty solid understanding and feel for the game … the biggest question mark will be their ability to adjust to the speed and physicality of the varsity game. Each of them can do a little bit of everything.”
The four sophomores likely to play key minutes include 6-0 guard Brody Lawhun, 6-1 guard Jordan Koebel, 5-7 guard Nathan Montgomery and 6-3 guard Carson Becker.
Overall, Bartlett said his group has a good understanding of the game, can shoot the ball well from outside and should bring good chemistry to the court. Being as young as they are, though, the Eagles just aren’t very physical yet.
Big Walnut will enter the season without three contributors from last year’s squad. Just how quickly the young guys can fill the shoes of Kaleb Phillips, Austin Becker and Chase Adams (Phillips transferred to Highland; Becker, a top MLB prospect, broke two different fingers on his right hand at two different times last year; and Adams tore his ACL in Week 10 of the football season) will go a long way toward determining just how good they can be.
Big Walnut opens the season tonight against visiting Worthington Kilbourne.
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.