Chargers Grow Through Early Season Woes to Earn SAC Title
Boys See Bright Future Ahead
March 14, 2019
The boys basketball season has come and gone.
After starting off the year with three straight losses to quality opponents , the Chargers righted the ship and made this season one to remember and collected their second straight SAC Championship, sharing it with Homestead and Northrop.
The Chargers struggles early this season, clearly feeling the effects of losing key Seniors last year such as Riley Perlich, Nathan Fish, Reece Swoverland, and especially Arius Jones.
After losing to an experienced Penn team on the back of Drew Lutz’s 23 points, nine assists, and eight steals, the Chargers took to the road to face their Sectionals semifinals opponent from the previous season in East Noble. The Chargers lost the game but led going into the fourth quarter. However it was a SAC loss to Concordia that finally woke the Chargers up.
“(At) Concordia (we) didn’t play very well at all, close game. After that we kind of figured out who we were going to be what we were going to be able to do and I thought we had a nice little run there” said Head Coach Marty Beasley.
A nice little run it was as the Chargers went on to win four straight before running into Homestead in the SAC Holiday Tournament to close out 2018.
When the team came back from winter break they picked up right where they left off, winning eight straight, six of which were conference games, allowing them to take control of the conference with that eighth win coming against Northrop.
“The players really liked the win at Northrop and that was kind of, you know, the game that we played really well. Thought we were tough, thought we defended, (the players) executed the game plan to a tee” Beasley added “That also kind of put us in the drivers seat of the conference so that was kind of a big win, a good crowd, good stage”
However the momentum from that win would not carry over into the next week as the Chargers dropped three straight for the second time this season. All three losses came against high quality opponents, the first two coming in the form of then- 4A #2 Carmel on Saturday, following the Northrop game, and then a last minute 40-38 loss to Huntington North, who went to win their sectional.
While those losses certainly weren’t what the Chargers had hoped for, no loss hurt more than the home loss to Homestead in the final conference game of the season. Had the Chargers won that game they would have been the sole SAC Champion, instead having to settle for a three way split after Bishop Dwenger knocked off Northrop, giving the Chargers the share of the title.
Nonetheless, Beasley views the conference championship as a show of what they were able to do this season.
“For a group of guys who we had a new team coming back. I think that’s a huge, huge accomplishment and that’s something they’ll be able to say they did the rest of their life”
But the Chargers weren’t done yet, after finishing out the regular season the Chargers went in to Sectionals as a favorite to reach their first regional since the 2015-16 season.
In the first round the Chargers were up against Northrop in a rematch from two and a half weeks prior. After a slow start, the Chargers fell behind, allowing the Bruins to run down the clock for the last minute of the first quarter and the first three of the second quarter with a lead of 11-4. After a slow second quarter the Chargers were down 15-7 at halftime but the game was still within reach.
Late in the third the Chargers made a run and were able to get the deficit down to three with a score of 21-18 but the deficit proved to be too much after the Bruins scored the last four points of the third quarter and the Chargers would never again cut the lead to less than four and the Bruins went on to win 41-31, ending the Chargers season.
“We just did not play the way that we have played leading up to that point, and (it’s) disappointing however one game can not define your season, one game can’t be the last impression you have, you (have to) think about the whole and the whole year what they have accomplished and what they did together and so forth, so i’m very proud of them”
Beasley was also very positive when discussing the impact this years Seniors had both on and off the court.
“Obviously with Dan (McKeeman), David (Ejah), and Preston (Shearer) they got a lot of minutes but Luke (Relue) and Gaven (Vogt) were just as important on the bench. Luke and Gaven were incredible on the bench and just keeping everyone involved in the game and talking to the seniors on the floor, the guys on the floor that were playing and being a leader that way, those two guys were as important as anybody on our team and we don’t win conference without them”
Moving forward the Chargers will feel the loss of McKeeman and Ejah, who led the team in scoring with 13.9 and 14.3 points respectively.
However the pipeline is arguably in better condition than it was at this time last year. Leading the charge next year will be current Juniors Richie Gross and Ray Vollmer as the lone returning starters. They’ll likely be joined in the starting lineup by Sophomores Ryan Preston and Sam Strycker.
Depending on what type of look Beasley wants to throw opponents the last spot could belong to a number of candidates. At this point it looks like Freshman Jalen Jackson could earn that spot after his stellar showing in leading the Chargers comeback in Sectionals. The problem with that lies in four guards being in the starting lineup. Should Beasley opt for more size, 6’8″ Freshman Logan Lankenau could make the lineup or 6’2″ Junior Seth Kock who now has a year of varsity experience under his belt.
But whichever direction Beasley and the Chargers opt to go in, this year looks to have set them up for future success.