GNADENHUTTEN -- A looming challenge for Coach James Herman and the Indian Valley High boys' basketball program is how to replace four seniors, including two of last season's three leading scorers.
With the departure of Jamie MacAdam (16 ppg) and Brett Cox (13 ppg), Herman loses about 30 to 40 percent of last year's scoring. Cox also led the team in charges taken and blocked shots. MacAdam became the program's leading three-point shooter and now owns the school's single-game scoring high, a 35-point effort versus Tusky Valley.
MacAdam earned second team post-season honors from District 5 and the PAC while Cox was a first team selection from the PAC and an honorable mention pick in District 5.
Also lost to graduation were Bryce Allensworth and Cole Craddoc from a squad which posted a 16-8 mark and a Division II Sectional triumph over Maysville before being ousted from tourney play by New Philadelphia.
Entering his fourth season at the helm of the IV program, Herman has pretty much seen it all in his years of coaching here in Tuscarawas County as well as previously in South Carolina. That veteran outlook will serve him well as he awaited the conclusion of the Braves' ultra-successful football season.
"I've always felt it takes players about four weeks to get football out of their systems," Herman remarked. "If our football team makes a deep playoff run, we'll just have to wait for some of our players. It just means we may not have our basketball legs until after the new year."
Herman can count on a good core of returning players, led by Shawn Mills (6-2 guard), who averaged about 15 points per game last season. Brady Byers ( 6-5 forward) will also return with his 11 ppg and eight rebounds-per-game resume. Both are multi-year letterwinners.
Other returning players with varsity experience are seniors Konner Cool (5-6 guard) and Bailey McBeth (6-2 guard) along with junior Caden McGuire (6-0 guard).
The remainder of the varsity roster looks to be filled out by senior Jared Kerns (6-3 forward), juniors Brandon Anderson (5-10 forward), Coby Eckstein (6-2 forward) and Brock Weber (6-1 forward) along with sophs Dalton Bolon (5-10 guard) and Brady Cotsmire (5-10 guard).
"We will look to continue to play the way we have in the past," Herman explained. "Look for us to play up tempo and try to attack with our defense as much as possible, and we can do that out of our zone defenses.
"Rebounding could also be an asset for us because our kids are quick,"the IV coach continued. "Right now, we just have to wait for the football kids to get here. Obviously, we won't know too much about our team until well into December."
In addition to Eckstein and Anderson, this season's junior varsity team could also include juniors Tyler Kramer (5-10 guard), Cam Parrish (5-9 guard) and Jared Byers (5-7 guard); sophomores Tobie Myers, 5-10 guard), Maguire Sell (5-7 guard), Dakota Skelly (5-7 guard), Jordan Hartzler (5-7 guard), Easton Guspyt (5-10 forward), Evan Neininger (5-11 guard), Conner Ferguson (6-0 forward), Hunter Host (5-11 guard), Brett Rentsch (5-10 forward) and Andy Couts (6-1 forward); along with frosh Jarrett Helter (5-7 guard) and James Metzger (6-1 forward).
Due to play on the freshmen squad are Andrew Gazkik, Cory Carlisle, Bronson Phillips, Caleb McConnell, Ricky Martinelli, Trevor Ault, Nathan Brown, Adam Porter and Josh Thornton.
Herman is not quite sure how the PAC race will shape up.
"Four of the schools in the PAC made the football playoffs," he said. "Last season, we lost seven games to five different PAC schools which made it to their district tourneys. It's a very demanding league from top to bottom.
"I think our non-league contests with Buckeye Trail and Claymont could be very entertaining and there may be some adjustments to our early schedule if our football team keeps winning."
Assisting Herman at the high school level will be Rich Gilmore, Scott Long, Steve Carlisle and Aaron Hrena. Blair Emler will direct the freshman team. Jimmy McPeek and Matt Carroll will handle junior high duties.
(Note: Team photos for Indian Valley boys' winter sports were not available due to the football team playing in the Region 13 title game.)