SOUTH WEBSTER — The South Webster Jeeps, with third-year head coach Brenton Cole, are officially in year 1 A.B.
Or, as he was easily known by players, coaches and media throughout the Southeast District: Shiloah.
That’s because Blevins — the District 14 Coaches Association Division IV Player of the Year and easily an all-Southeast District Division IV first-team selection by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association — has graduated from South Webster, leaving behind big shoes to fill for not only scoring but perhaps more importantly rebounding.
The Jeeps, always playing up in schedule in the now nine-school Southern Ohio Conference Division II, went 15-8 (overall) and 9-5 (SOC II) — but Blevins was the biggest reason for that.
The six-foot five-inch senior standout averaged 19 points and 14 rebounds per game, and was a third-team Division IV all-Ohioan.
Cole commented that while it’s obviously easy to see Blevins’ scoring impact, not as much so was his rebounding ability on both ends of the floor.
“People that watched Shiloah play know, but if they didn’t, it doesn’t show up in the newspaper a lot of times. He had a lot of rebounds in every game besides his points,” said the coach.
Hence, that leaves this season’s Jeeps to pick up the slack, as South Webster also graduated four other individuals — including defender Sam Holstein and four-year varsity player Jacob Ruth.
Cole said Blevins’ graduation means other players — as a team — will shoulder the scoring and rebounding loads.
“As far as one guy like Shiloah getting us 30 points (a game), we have a couple of guys that can get quite a bit, but we will need even scoring this year to win games. Not just one guy getting 25 or even 30 a night,” said Cole. “We’ll be scouted of course, but we will be a tougher scout because now we have three or four or even five guys putting the ball in the hole instead of just keying on one or two.”
Leading the way will be senior Brayden Bockway — a 6-5 senior who scored 16 points per game and made third-team all-Southeast District (OPSWA).
Also in the middle is 6-4 junior and junior-varsity moveup Lane Bond, whom Cole said “is a lot to handle”.
Bockway and Bond are among those tasked to fill Blevins’ rebounding void, as seniors Gabe Ruth (6-0) and Andrew Smith (5-8) return along with 6-1 sophomore Trae Zimmerman — an off-the-bench scoring spark and expected rebounding picker-upper.
Aidan Andrews, a 6-1 junior, is another JV moveup — as six-foot Devyn Coriell comes back for his senior season after taking last year off due to injury.
Two other sophomores which will split time between varsity and reserve are 5-11 Brady Blizzard and 6-1 Cam Carpenter — and possibly freshmen Jaren Lower (5-10) and Will Collins (6-2).
Ruth, Andrews, Zimmerman, Blizzard, Lower and Collins come fresh off the South Webster soccer squad, which advanced all the way to the regional championship match.
Of the dozen on the roster, expect seven Jeeps to make up the regular rotation.
“It’s a small group right now, but I like what I’ve seen so far,” said Cole. “Half of our roster are soccer players, and hopefully we can carry that over with the winning tradition they have going. These kids are used to winning with soccer.”
And, the Jeeps will once again have to win with defense — something they didn’t always do last season.
“We have to pick it up and take pride on the defensive end again. We did that my first year, really taking pride in the defense. Last year, we were able to score more points, but it was more of a give-and-take of our offense scoring more points, but we gave up more points — too many points to be honest,” said Cole. “We need to get back to that mentality of holding our opponents’ points down and defending much better.”
The other larger SOC II squads, including defending champion Wheelersburg along with immediate challengers Waverly and Oak Hill, also know that the Jeeps will give them their best shot.
“I don’t want to knock us or any of the other teams, but we’re all chasing Wheelersburg and even Waverly and Oak Hill,” said Cole. “But that bodes well for us. It prepares us for the tournament and maybe we can knock somebody off.”
The Jeeps’ non-league schedule includes SOC I clubs Clay, East and Green — and Ohio Valley Conference frontrunners Fairland and South Point.
Cole said the schedule — and improvement over the course of the year in scoring, defending and rebounding — will only make South Webster better by the end of the campaign.
“Regardless of what the league brings, it’s always a goal for us to get back to the Convo (Ohio University Convocation Center for Division IV district and regional tournament) and make a run in the tournament,” said the coach. “We strive for taking steps every game and getting better and going forward. On both ends of the floor. Hopefully, we will be clicking and playing our best basketball by the end of the year for sure.”
Alas, let year one After Blevins begin.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Cole. “We have a great group of guys top to bottom.”
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved