November 28, 2002

Young Tigers Have Big Shoes To Fill In 2002-03 Basketball Season

Graduating seven seniors, including five players that started at different points through the season might sound like bad news for most teams. However the Scotland County Tigers don't seem worried about the losses heading into the 2002-03 season with the confidence of a strong finish last year that saw several returning players gain valuable experience.

Adding to the optimism is the fact that the rest of league also sustained key losses to graduation, which should level the playing field this season.

First Year Coach Jaryt Hunziker hopes his team can improve on a 7-18 record last year, including a 2-5 mark in conference play.

"The success of this year's season depends on how strong our defense is along with the ability to be patient and score," Hunziker said. "I am hoping that our defense will create turnovers that will allow us to get out in the open court. The team has been very successful in the past by doing this."

Scotland County will look to its lone returning starter, Chase Moore, to lead this year's version of the Tigers. Moore led SCR-I with a 13.0 scoring average during his junior year. The 5'9" guard also averaged five rebounds a contest and was among the team leaders in assists.

"I feel he is one of the best guards in the area," Coach Hunziker said of Moore. "He needs to score consistently every game for us to be successful, but his outside shooting and ability to penetrate to the basket should open up scoring opportunities for others."

Jake Fogle and Michael Lodewegen are the two other upperclassmen returning varsity experience. Fogle averaged six points and four rebounds a game, giving the team another scoring option at the guard position. Lodewegen averaged three points and two rebounds and gives the team depth in the post.

Two juniors were among the players that helped SCR-I finish strong last season. Aaron Dale scored seven points a game and is the team's leading returning rebound man after averaging seven boards a game last year.

Clint Cottrell moved up from the junior varsity at mid season and was one of the big reasons for the team's improvement. The 6'4" forward averaged seven points and six rebounds down the stretch for the Tigers.

A successful junior varsity squad (12-4 last year) likely will promote several players to challenge for varsity jobs this season. Coach Hunziker listed Danny Roach and Nick Oldham as options at the guard positions while Andy Graham, a 6'6" junior will likely help the team's inside game.

Hunziker also has a pair of options in seniors Vince Rockhold and Andy Boyer, two players that did not play last season. Rockhold gives the team depth in the post and may push for a starting role while Boyer will play swingman, filling in at either guard or forward to take advantage of his size (6'2").

The Tigers took their lumps with graduation, losing all-conference performer Aarron Holt along with starters, Robbie Miller, Kirk Stott and Brad Holt and subs Logan Bogatzke, Tim Buford and Jason Glass.

Other teams took similar hits, with league champions Milan maybe the biggest loser to graduation. Gone from the Tri-Rivers Champs' roster are league MVP Ryan Wright as well as fellow all-league performers Brett Ford and Jonathan McKenny.

Brookfield and Clark County are the early favorites to replace Milan atop the league standings. Both teams are led by big men, as first team all-conference centers Damon Collins and Lance Boatman lead their respective teams. North Shelby, which tied with these two teams for second place in the conference, also brings back its top player, first teamer Ryan McCoy.

Brookfield has the best known returning lineup adding Gerrit Hane and Scott Paalhar as returning starters. Both were honorable mention all league last year. T.J Redd returns to North Shelby after earning similar honors last year to go along with McCoy and second teamer Bud Hardy.

Schuyler County ranks right up there with Milan with a long list of grads. Gone are all-league players Seth Minter and Trevor Tallman. The two teams are the only squads without a returning all-conference player.

Putnam County may move up in the standings led by first teamer Ian Gilworth and fellow junior Keith Smith who earned honorable mention honors last season. Knox County will have to find some other scorers to go with Laden Force in order to escape the league cellar this year.

The Tigers will try to move up the ladder in the league standings after finishing tied for sixth place last year.

While the competition in the conference is always tough, Scotland County may benefit from a new look in district play as the state shuffled schools prior to this year. Larger enrollments pushed Putnam and Clark County out of the conference. That leaves SCR-I battling with Knox County and Schuyler County as well as Princeton, Milan and Canton, with the later likely the early favorite for the top seed.

"With the new district, I feel like we should have the opportunity to do well in March," coach Hunziker said.

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