XENIA — Basketball can be at its highest level of excitement when games are played at a fast tempo.
Several area teams may try and up the pace this season, but potentially no team more than what may be seen from Xenia.
Two phrases stuck out from Buccaneers head coach Mike Arlinghaus while instructing his team during a recent scrimmage and neither of them came during the normal course of play.
As his team came back to the bench for a huddle after a timeout, the question he had for them was, “Why are we walking?” When one of the scrimmage periods ended and players were heading to the locker room for a break, his instructions were clear: “Don’t walk.”
Ideally there is going to be running and high intensity play from Xenia this season, according to Arlinghaus, and it appears it’s being preached in different ways at all times.
The Bucs during that same scrimmage session focused on full-court pressure no matter how the other team was gaining control. Pressure on the player with possession didn’t stop just because the ball moved across halfcourt. Xenia frequently pushed the ball back up the floor after allowing a basket or grabbing a rebound and would cut toward the basket with or without the ball using quick movement to stress the defense.
Even during a glorified practice, that style is enough to get the blood pumping and like what you’re watching.
While they may be moving quickly on the floor, other teams like Bellbrook are hoping for quick movement on the scoreboard. According to head coach Donnie Tate, the Golden Eagles plan to let it fly from outside the arc while they figure out which of their young players will mesh with the role.
“I think people are going to like watching this team play,” Tate said. “We’re going to shoot a lot of threes.”
Scoring across the board has a good chance to be up with the talent many teams are returning.
Every starter from a year ago are back for Fairborn and Greeneview. Cedarville’s Drew Koning and Tyler Cross, along with Legacy Christian’s Andrew Riddle and Parker Burke are double digit scoring combos looking for repeat performances. And Sean McKitrick at Carroll is one of the best shooters from deep and it would not be a surprise if he flirted with averaging 20 points per game once again.
Boys basketball will get its season underway starting on Wednesday, but most teams are waiting until after the week of Thanksgiving.
When they do begin playing, there are several notable games to look out for across the county. Beavercreek starts off playing on Black Friday in the Rebounders Classic and hosts 2022 state semifinal participant Alter in January. Greeneview in December will travel to Versailles, which went 20-1 a season ago, before participating in the competitive Holiday Tournament at Miami Trace near the holidays.
Bellbrook will take off from Ohio to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for a three-day showcase at the same time and earlier in December will play in the Coach Q Holiday Classic in Lima. Xenia will leave its gym to host a game at one of the best venues in Southwest Ohio in Benner Fieldhouse between Christmas and the new year.
(Statistics from 2021-22)
2021-22: 15-10, 6-8 GWOC (4th), lost to Fairmont (57-50) in sectional finals
Coach: Isaiah Williams (0-0, 1st year)
Players to watch: Kyle Putnam, Sr. (7.1 ppg, 31.4 3pt%, 81.8 FT%); Daniel Jefferson, Sr. (2.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 46.8 FG%); Isaiah Williams, So. (4.5 ppg, 0.8 apg, 48.8 FG%); Liam Gluck, Jr. (2.6 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 52.0 FG%); Lance Caswell, Jr. (0.3 ppg, 0.4 rpg)
Outlook: Six seniors depart from last year’s team which means new roles for players to step into this season. A difficult early schedule won’t provide a lot of time to get settled in.
Bellbrook Golden Eagles
2021-22: 16-9, 10-3 SWBL (3rd East), lost to Alter (75-55) in sectional finals
Coach: Donnie Tate (62-76, 7th year)
Players to watch: Carson Labensky, Sr. (10.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 33.9 3pt%); Luke Driskell, Jr. (8.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 51.1 FG%); Austin Webb, So. (8.0 ppg, 43.8 3pt%, 80.6 FT%); Kellen Solomon, Jr. (1.6 ppg, 2.0 ast/to); CJ Scohy, So. (DNP)
Outlook: A young group where depth will be tested. Bellbrook hopes to light up the scoreboard with solid long range shooting while facing a challenging schedule.
2021-22: 16-10, 4-6 GCL (4th), lost to Roger Bacon (63-38) in district finals
Coach: Tim Cogan (126-95, 10th year)
Players to watch: Sean McKitrick, Sr. (19.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 37.8 3pt%); Michael Stefanek, Sr. (3.2 ppg, 0.8 ast/to); Tanner Smart, Sr. (3.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 40.9 FG%), Sammy Deep, Sr. (3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 51.5 FG%); Nick Kaiser, Jr. (2.3 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 1.7 apg)
Outlook: McKitrick is one of the best scorers in southwest Ohio and a matchup issue for many opposing guards. Carroll’s roster acts as one of the most cohesive groups in the area.
2021-22: 20-5, 13-3 OHC (2nd South), lost to Catholic Central (43-41) in sectional finals
Coach: Ryan Godlove (12th year, complete record unavailable)
Players to watch: Drew Koning, Sr. (14.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.3 apg); Tyler Cross, Jr. (10.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.6 apg); Jack Czerniak, Sr. (2.8 ppg, 1.2 rpg); Mason Johnson, Jr. (1.0 ppg, 0.3 rpg); Jackson Howdyshell, Jr. (0.5 rpg)
Outlook: Cedarville may have one of the best returning 1-2 combos in the OHC. Which players grow into their new supporting roles may determine how far they will go.
2021-22: 1-22, 1-17 (6th Valley), lost to Centerville (73-33) in sectionals
Coach: Billy Harchick (8-59, 4th year)
Players to watch: Ty Williams, Jr. (10.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 79.2 FT%); Caelan Bush, Sr. (7.6 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.3 apg); Jaxson Roschi, Sr. (6.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 42.1 FG%); Dom Graham, Sr. (5.6 ppg, 0.9 spg, 30.9 3pt%); Darius Davis, Sr. (5.1 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Outlook: A year of growing pains could potentially pay off with the top six scorers all returning. Fairborn last finished with a .500 record in 2019.
2021-22: 14-9, 10-6 OHC (4th South), lost to Madeira (61-57) in sectionals
Coach: Kyle Fulk (110-96, 10th year)
Players to watch: Carter Williams, Sr. (11.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 41.3 FG%); Myles Witt, Sr. (7.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 3.4 apg); Ethen Caudill, Sr. (10.7 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 48.3 FG%); Jordan Erisman, Sr. (13.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 1.2 ast/to); Ben Myers, Sr. (5.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 57.1 FG%)
Outlook: The Rams may be one of the most experienced groups coming back in the state with last year’s team having no seniors. Should be considered one of the favorites to win the OHC.
Legacy Christian Knights
2021-22: 12-10, 9-3 MBC (3rd), lost to Tri-County North (76-65 OT) in sectionals
Coach: Steve Seitz (0-0, 1st year)
Players to watch: Andrew Riddle, Sr. (15.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 86.9 FT%); Parker Burke, Jr. (16.7 ppg, 3.8 apg, 38.9 3pt%); Thomas Park, Sr. (4.0, 2.1 rpg); Blake Schwartzkopf, Jr. (1.7 ppg, 1.7 rpg); Jacob Thompson, Fr. (DNP)
Outlook: The top-two returning scorers in the county will get to feed off one another once again. Supporting role needs to grow around them.
2021-22: 8-15, 8-10 (3rd Valley), lost to Fairmont (80-28) in sectionals
Coach: Michael Arlinghaus (8-15, 2nd year)
Players to watch: Damien Weaver, Sr. (11.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg; 4.7 apg); Alijah Withers, Jr. (7.8 ppg, 2.1 spg); Joey Dawson, Sr. (6.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 53.8 FG% at Belmont); Ayden Rose, Sr. (9.0 ppg, 1.3 spg, 33.1 3pt%); Kellan Starks, Sr. (6.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 52.1 FG%)
Outlook: Xenia has some added height which could aid one of the better rebounding teams in the league. Weaver is a player of the year candidate.
Yellow Springs Bulldogs
2021-22: 16-5, 10-2 MBC (1st), lost to Cedarville (64-50) in sectionals
Coach: Nick Trimbach (23-37, 4th year)
Players to watch: Eli Eyrich, Sr. (5.3 ppg, 5.9 apg, 8.1 rpg, 3.3 spg); Jason Knemeyer, Sr. (1.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg); Ethan Knemeyer, Sr. (0.9 ppg, 1.7 rpg); Josh Clark, Sr. (2.1 ppg, 1.8 rpg)
Outlook: A lot to replace with five productive seniors, including the league’s player of the year, all having graduated.