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Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2024

Preview: Van Wert Cougars basketball

SCOTT TRUXELL/independent sports editor

Just one starter is back from last year’s 16-10 Division II district runner-up team, but that doesn’t mean the cupboard is completely bare for new Van Wert boys’ basketball coach Ben Laudick, who’s taking over for Mark Bagley, who stepped down after six seasons at the helm.

Ben Laudick

Nate Place, Drew Bagley, Lawson Blackmore and Blake Henry all graduated, meaning junior Owen Treece is the lone returning starter, and he averaged 10.5 points per game last season. Three seniors who lettered in 2018-2019 are back as well – 5-9 guard Clayton Proffitt, 6-3 forward Tanner Barnhart and 6-3 forward Jake Hilleary.

“Owen is capable of having big scoring nights and has a very high basketball IQ,” Laudick said. “Owen will carry the load for the team to begin the season as his teammates gain experience at the varsity level.”

“Clayton is a very good shooter from beyond the arc and despite his size has the ability create his own shot driving to the basket,” Laudick continued. “Tanner is a good rebounder and will be looked to at times to guard the opposing team’s best player.Jake has a good inside/outside game which could make him a hard guard because he has quick feet and can drive to the basket.”

Other players expected to contribute this season include 6-2 senior guard Keaton Brown, senior post players Spencer Adams (6-5) Parker Conrad (6-0) and Colin Place (6-5), and sophomore guards Ethan Brown (6-0) and Nate Jackson (5-10). 

“The complexion of our team will be speed, quickness, toughness, and athleticism with players who are versatile enough to play both inside and out,” Laudick said. “An important area of emphasis will be our team offense and our ability to score and make shots by running for layups, finishing post moves inside, offensive rebounds, and getting transition from our defense.”

“Rebounding will be a focal point on both ends of the floor because we will not be as tall as we were last season but we do have the athletes to get the job done,” Laudick added.

Van Wert’s non-conference schedule is the same as last season – Crestview, Lincolnview, Parkway, Lima Central Catholic, Wayne Trace, St Henry, Ottoville, Columbus Grove, Marion Local, Delphos St John’s, Kalida, Coldwater, and Bryan.

As far as the Western Buckeye League, Laudick believes three teams are contenders this season.

“Ottawa-Glandorf, Shawnee, and Defiance look to be the early favorites for a league title this year, but in the WBL you have to bring your best every Friday night because we have high quality players and teams across the league which make it very difficult to win,” Laudick said. 

“There may be times that teams are more talented, but we will play together and compete each night in order to find a way to win. As you watch this team play and develop over the course of a long season, you will see a great group of kids who like each other, share the ball, and will play hard giving their best effort every second of every game.”

The Cougars will open the season this Friday night at Crestview, then will host Lincolnview on Saturday. Both games will air on WERT 1220AM/104.3FM.   

POSTED: 11/27/19 at 4:49 am. FILED UNDER: Sports