Even through a disappointing season last year, the Covenant Christian boys’ basketball team knew who its leaders were.
“We lost three seniors last year, so the question is, where is the leadership going to come from and whether we can come together and play as a team,” Covenant Christian coach Scott Flatt said. “I didn’t have any doubt about last year’s team regarding leadership.”
Those seniors — Jordan Clevenger, Aaron Gegg, and Ian Bobbitt — along with losing Ian Asher to transfer also raise another question for Flatt. How will he replace their offensive production?
“We lost a lot of scoring,” he said. “Probably 25 to 30 points.”
But Flatt remains confident that he has the potential on the team to improve on last season’s 7-15 record.
It all starts with the team’s four seniors (and one junior).
Kenton Hipsher — a transfer from Avon in his second year with the program who averaged 8.1 points and 7.6 rebounds last season — is expected to lead the team in both categories and is the team’s best defensive player.
Michael Sturm (1.5 points and 1.8 rebounds) and Jarek Brents (3.3 points and 2.1 rebounds) will also be asked to share in the scoring load. Each have spent all four years in the program and Flatt says, “are not outspoken, but solid kids and both are good leaders.”
Senior point guard Anthony Williams is new to the program, but is very quick and will be tough to stop off the dribble.
Trevor Johnson, a junior guard, returns with vast varsity experience and averaged 5.2 points, two rebounds, and one assist a game last season. He will also be looked at to share the scoring load, but is recovering from a wrist injury. As he continues to heal and until his shooting form returns, the Warriors will rely on his defensive prowess, as he’s one of the team’s top perimeter defenders.
Also expected to play several varsity minutes this season are juniors Cody Owen, Ben Tucker, and Tanner Orebaugh, along with sophomores Chris Seifert, Jake Marsh, and Ethan Smith.
Over the summer the team focused on offense.
“Mainly screens, motion, and movement,” Flatt said.
Defense became the main focus as the team opened practice this fall.
“I thought we took some steps backward last season and weren’t as strong as we could be,” Flatt said. “I personally think I made some mistakes as a coach at the beginning of the year that set them back. But we were much better at the end of the season.”
The Warriors will focus on more pressure defense, getting the ball to the scorers on offense, and taking better shots.
“I expect us to play a lot faster this season, we have very good team speed,” Flatt said. “But we will see how that’s working after our first game.”
Flatt also emphasized that the scoring must be spread around.
“I’ve always believed that you need to be balanced when it comes to scoring,” he said. “If you can do that, you’re much tougher to defend.”
But it all comes back to the question of leadership and scoring production.
“I have a great group of kids, I have no complaints, and they’re working hard,” Flatt said. “It’s a definite mix of younger guys without experience and transfers with the experienced guys. It’s been a different year with several questions, so I’m hoping to have some of those questions answered soon.”