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Tell City and Perry Central came extremely close to knocking off the top two teams in their Class 2A basketball sectional last week.
Besides giving their fans two of the most exciting games in that sectional in years, they may have also given themselves confidence that they can play with big, bad Forest Park and Mater Dei.
Tell City and Perry Central have never beaten Mater Dei in the boys sectional.
Perry Central has also never beaten Forest Park in the sectional in the 12 years since the class format started. And Tell City last did so in 2000.
Forest Park and Mater Dei usually seem to come up with a big man or two that smaller Tell City and Perry Central teams have trouble handling.
But barring another big man’s moving to Forest Park, as Jordan Myers did from Reitz two years ago, next year the Rangers should have no one taller than 6-foot-5 in their lineup for the first time in seven years.
Colin Welp, a 6-foot-5 senior-to-be, figures to be the their starting center next year.
He did a good job in a reserve role this year, including getting six points and seven rebounds in last week’s 58-55 win over Perry Central.
But he doesn’t figure to be as unstoppable as the 6-8 Myers or 6-10 Clint Hopf have been in recent seasons. Both of them earned NCAA Division I basketball scholarships.
Mater Dei graduates its go-to guy, 6-7 Matt Dickerson, this spring. He had 25 points and 15 rebounds and shot an incredible 27 free throws in Friday’s 79-78 double-overtime win over Tell City.
The Wildcats also lose their starting forwards, 6-5 Bryce Huff and 6-4 Jared Eickhoff. Huff had 11 rebounds Friday as the taller Wildcats dominated the boards.
Marc Weinzapfel, a 6-5 sophomore reserve who had four rebounds but was 0 for 5 from the field Friday, is the only player taller than 6-2 returning next year from the Wildcats’ varsity roster.
And 6-3 sophomore Adam Wilmes was the tallest player on their JV team.
Tell City and Perry Central had no 6-5 players this year and don’t figure to have any next year. But still height disadvantages shouldn’t be the main reason either would lose to Forest Park or Mater Dei next year.
Both local coaches were cautiously optimistic about next year after the sectional, though both admitted there is a lot of work to be done between now and then.
The Commodores lose leading scorer Reuben A. Schwartz but return 6-2 forwards Alex Rogier and Ian Hahus, who were two of their top three scorers and rebounders this year.
They also return several quick guards, such as Reuben Y. Schwartz and Jake Schwartz, and sharp-shooting 6-1 swingman Trevor King.
Several players coming up from a 13-7 junior varsity team should also give them more depth than they had this year.
“There’s a lot of work to be done between now and the next time we play,” said Perry Central Coach Matt Carter after his team’s sectional game.
But he added that if the players do work hard in the off-season, the Commodores could be in the thick of the battle for the title next year.
Tell City graduates four starters and its top two reserves from this year’s team.
But the Marksmen return 5-10 forward-guard Trent Gunn, who is strong and quick; 6-1 sophomore swingman Sean Flannagan, who hit some key three-point shots this year and rebounded well for his size; and junior guard Mike Maddle, who also hit some key three-pointers after moving back to Tell City at midseason.
Alex Cole, a 6-4 junior who split time between varsity and JV this year, could be a late bloomer, as big men sometimes are (Joe Simms and Mark Finley played JV as juniors and later became college frontliners).
The Marksmen also had a 13-7 JV team. And two 6-2 sophomores from that team, Shane Weedman and Greg Hollinden, appear to be still growing.
“I feel good about our situation next year,” said Hayes after Friday’s game. “If we perform and play as hard as these guys did tonight, we have a chance to be very good next year.”