Created on Thursday, 29 November 2012 Written by AARON LaBATT
The first weekend of the prep basketball season can answer plenty of questions for coaches and the boys basketball teams from Benjamin Logan and Riverside are hoping for positive feedback when they kick off the season at Ben Logan’s Tip-Off Classic on Friday.
The Pirates play Botkins in the opener at 6 p.m., followed by the host Raiders taking on Mechanicsburg at 8 p.m. The tournament concludes on Saturday with the loser’s bracket final at 6 p.m. and the championship game at 8 p.m.
“We’re really curious to see how we play,” said Ben Logan head coach Dave Myers. “We have been up and down in scrimmages, but you can’t tell a lot from those. Our basketball I.Q. is high, though. We will come out and compete.
“All we are focused on this weekend is doing what we can do to get better. It starts on defense and getting stops. Then we have to go and take good shots and put the ball in the basket.”
Ben Logan defeated Mechanicsburg 77-56 in last year’s tournament to finish third. Myers feels it could be another good matchup on Friday.
“It’s hard to gauge how to play them,” said Myers. “They have a new coach and have back Brandon Purk, who had 14 or 15 points against us last year. He is athletic. They have some big kids inside, too, but they are similar to us because they don’t have a lot of experience. Mechanicsburg did lose 30 to 40 points of what they scored against us last year at this tournament.”
Riverside beat the host Raiders in the first round of last year’s tournament and was edged 49-46 by Botkins in the championship.
“Well, when you start your season off with a Shelby County team the stakes are higher,” said Riverside head coach Don Epps. “We are looking forward to seeing how we can compete with them. We are excited for Friday.”
Epps is making sure his team is prepared for an improved Botkins squad on Friday in the first round.
“They’ve got some scorers and good shooters back,” said Epps. “They play typical Shelby County basketball, which is hard-nosed and physical. They will be a very formidable opponent for us.”
Elsewhere around the area this weekend:
Kenton at Indian Lake
Indian Lake hopes to get its season started off on a high note when it hosts Kenton on Friday in non-league action.
The Wildcats struggled last season, but do return a large senior class with good size. Leading the way is Chase Black (6-6), Nick Lacey (6-2) and Jonah Colvin (6-1).
Indian Lake travels to Wapakoneta on Saturday for another non-league contest.
Springfield Shawnee at WL-Salem
West Liberty-Salem faces a tough task in the season opener Friday when it hosts Springfield Shawnee, the defending Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail champions.
The Braves return senior Jaelin Williams, who was the CBC Kenton Trail player of the year as a junior. He averaged 16.8 points per game last winter. They also return CBC special mention selection David Sawyer.
Fairbanks at Triad
Triad will test itself in the first game of the season Friday when it hosts Fairbanks in a non-league contest.
The Panthers were co-champions of the Northwest Central Conference last season. They return first-team all-league pick Philip Gibson.
Triad plays at home again on Saturday when it hosts Waynesfield-Goshen.
Mt. Gilead at Ridgemont
Ridgemont hopes to build on its successful 2011-12 season when it opens Friday at home against Mt. Gilead in a non-league meeting.
The Indians are coming off an 18-2 campaign. They defeated the Gophers 72-51 in last year’s season opener.
Ridgemont won a share of the Northwest Central Conference title last winter, but must replaced departed standout guard Davante Ratleff.
The Gophers play again on Saturday at home against Lehman Catholic.