Boys Basketball Team Starts Season Pre-season #4

Posted on November 23, 2016 in Boy's Basketball, Winter Sports

MIER – Great things are expected this season from the Oak Hill boys’ basketball team.
But, as ESPN football analyst Lee Corso would say, ‘not so fast, my friends’.
First, there is the matter of replacing seven seniors from a 23-4 team that advanced to the regional final before losing to eventual 2A state champion Lapel on a last-second play. No doubt, the Golden Eagles have a talented core group, but blending in the newcomers will require time and patience, coach Kevin Renbarger said.
Caleb Middlesworth, Spencer Ballinger and David Arens were an impressive sophomore trio last year and now add Trayce Frank to the mix. Frank’s father Pete Frank was a standout for Oak Hill from 1980-83, and the 6-foot-4 junior brings even more length and offensive skills to a team overly blessed with both attributes.
“Talent-wise, we didn’t lose much with the addition of Frank,” Oak Hill coach Kevin Renbarger said. “But last year’s team was one of the deepest and most talented teams in all the years I’d been at Oak Hill.”
Oak Hill was accorded 2A’s No. 4 state ranking from the Associated Press, a reward Renbarger said was as much for the Eagles winning their second consecutive sectional title last March and the 52-51 regional loss to Lapel.
“It’s an honor to be ranked No. 4 in 2A, but it’s a reflection on what the team did last year and what the outgoing seniors did last year,” Renbarger said.
Renbarger, 154-92 in 12 years at Oak Hill, has only one senior on the team, Kordell Cabe who played in two varsity games last year. The graduates include top scorer Christian Livingston (13.0 points per game) and three others who usually started: Caleb Maggard (10.3 ppg, 7.4 rebounds), Chandler Julius (5.3 ppg, 3.6 assists) and Reese Metzger (4.9 ppg).
The 6-9 Middlesworth is the only returning starter and he showed off a feathery shooting touch while averaging 12.8 points and connecting on 40 percent from 3-point range (20-of-50). His uncle is Madison-Grant basketball great Kyle Runyan, and he has been recruited by mid-level NCAA Division I colleges.
While Ballinger and Arens came off the bench, both played nearly as much as the starters, and this year they will have greatly expanded roles. The 6-5 Ballinger averaged 8.0 points, and the 6-6 Arens added 7.1 points and 3.4 rebounds. Frank is 6-4 with point guard skills and played on home school teams before enrolling at Oak Hill.
“Those four you can mark down (as starters) with a Sharpie,” Renbarger. “The other spot requires a pencil and likely will change depending on matchups.”
Cal Mann, a 5-10 junior, played in 18 games last year and likely would have completed the starting lineup following a good summer. But Mann is just coming back from shoulder surgery and is another week away from being cleared to play in a game.
Reid Newhouse made an impression as an undersized but very strong 6-foot post player during the summer workouts, and 6-3 sophomore frontliner Konner Cabe and junior guard Renn Martin add to the depth. Renbarger singled out Martin for the 3-point shooting and energy he brings to the team.
The Eagles averaged 65.3 points last year and Renbarger said scoring shouldn’t be a problem. Defense also was a strength and opponents were limited to 42.8 points, but it could be a potential problem area due to the graduation losses and new personnel.
“We can get the ball in the paint and we can put the ball on the floor,” Renbarger said. “We can stretch defense out with our 3-point shooting. We have four kids who are dynamic scorers.
“We are not where we want to be on defense at this point,” he added. “It doesn’t mean that we won’t get there. With as much turnover as we’ve had and the new kids stepping into roles, in the short term it has been a challenge.”
Oak Hill hosts the sectional in March, but the regional field once again will be a challenge with Lapel or Frankton the biggest obstacles. Renbarger said Frankton returns everybody and added a transfer from Pendleton Heights and should be the team to beat in the Central Indiana Conference.
“Not only is (Frankton) the favorite in the conference, they are one of the two or three teams with a legitimate chance of winning the 2A state title,” Renbarger said. “They are extremely good. And Mississinewa has put in the time in the offseason and are driven. Those two are our first two conference games, and it will tell us right away where we will be in the conference race.”
Oak Hill opens the season at 7:45 p.m. today at Wabash.

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