All 12 Southside boys’ basketball teams have seen action in the 2022-2023 season.
Center Grove is off to the hottest start with five straight wins. Southport, Beech Grove, Christel House Manual, and Decatur Central each have two losses. All 12 Southside teams expect to improve as the 2022-2023 season continues.
Several rivalry games have been played with Center Grove defeating Greenwood and Franklin, Decatur Central stunning host Roncalli, Greenwood Christian edging Lutheran, Southport dominating Perry Meridian in Battle of Perry Township, and, in a key 3A top team duel, Beech Grove upsetting NorthWood.
Here’ a capsule look at each team (all statistics are for this season):
BEECH GROVE (3A) – Reigning 3A state champion Hornets have a new look with first-year coach Joe Rihm and 6-6 junior standout Anthony Ball moving to Crispus Attucks and finally to Decatur Central … Rihm succeeds Mike Renfro (five seasons, 74-27), who resigned before season began … BG had three-game win streak snapped Saturday by North Daviess in Forum Tipoff Classic … BG was coming off Dec. 3 upset of 3A No. 1 NorthWood, 55-51 … Hornets have quickness and tenacity … veteran team with 12 seniors … only one player, Cam Brown (12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds), is over 6-5 … Rihm can go “big” with Brown and 6-5 Rylan Horen … plenty of backcourt experience with seniors Jeremiah Alexander (10.8 points, 5.0 assists, 2.0 steals), Jeremiah Tate (13.0 points, 2.3 steals) and Jaleel Edwards (11.0 points, 3.5 steals) – trio that can drive the ball.
“We want to place our hallmark on defense,” Rihm said. “We have to really work hard on defensive rebounding, sending five guys to the glass and being disciplined on the defensive end. We’re learning how to play smaller, but obviously we’re not where we want to be at the end of the season.”
Hornets’ depth comes from senior guards Adrian Holland and Skylar Thacker plus 6-5 junior Cantrell Byrd.
Hornets visit Roncalli, Saturday, Dec. 17.
CENTER GROVE (4A) - Trojans off to great start with former Indiana All-Star / ninth-year coach Zach Hahn ... five straight wins, including three wins against Johnson County foes ... posted 11-13 season last year, falling to rival Franklin in sectional championship ... Trojans pounded Martinsville, 75-38 Saturday … first season as independent after leaving MIC ... explosive offense (62.8 points) ... trademark in-your-face defense (45.5 points) ... key players: 6-3 senior Marcus Ankney, a 40 percent 3-point shooter, 18.3 points, 3.8 rebounds; 6-2 senior Ethan McComb (7.3 points); junior Joey Schmitz (14.8 points, 2.2 steals); 6-0 junior Jalen Bundy (7.0 points, 4.2 assists); and 6-5 junior Will Spellman (6.3 points) ... depth comes from 5-10 senior Owen Baker, 5-10 junior Dylan Meador, 6-6 junior Peyton Byrd, and 6-5 senior Garrett Messer.
“All nine varsity players are capable of shooting 3’s, as well as multiple guys that can make plays at the rim, and a fast-pace transition offense,” Hahn observed. “They are the most skilled group of players I have coached.”
Hahn continued, “Three keys for our team this year are the ability to get consecutive stops in a row, create turnovers leading to transition points, and rebounding defensively. We are excited about the togetherness, leadership, and maturity this team has shown thus far. “
The Trojans visit rival Whiteland Friday, Dec. 16 ... seeking fifth sectional title since 2017.
CHRISTEL HOUSE MANUAL (3A)
Second season as combined Christel House Manual (12-10 last season) ... closed with five straight wins before losing to Chatard in sectional.
“This is our second year being together with Christel House and having a full summer of bonding and team work,” second-year coach Robert Orkman said. “Our kids have worked extremely hard on the court and in the weightroom.”
Opened new season with losses to 4A Decatur Central and North Central ... then exploded for 106 points against 1A Victory College Prep ... CHM stands 2-2 ... Eagles have backcourt quickness and height up front ... returns with leading scorer, senior Donovan Pruitt, 127 points away from 1,000 career points ... freshman Dave Brigham Jr. (18.3 points) already making impact ... senior forward Javon Tyler (6.7 rebounds and junior guard Jaden Davis (3.3 steals) also lead.
“We look forward to being the hunter rather than being the hunted this season,” Orkman stated. “We return with three starters with one of Marion County’s top freshmen joining our team. We look forward to building on what we were able to accomplish last season.”
Eagles schedule has 10 1A / 2A opponents ... can refine skills during holiday break between Metropolitan Dec. 20 and visiting 4A Mooresville Jan. 4.
DECATUR CENTRAL (4A)
Longtime assistant coach Bryan Surber takes over helm for first time ... Hawks were 14-10 last season ... stand 3-2, held Franklin to 25 points and downed host Roncalli, 58-51 Saturday.
“We have good, young talent and size,” Surber said. “I think our size, with a mixture of athleticism - they all move well. Size, length, and athleticism.”
Key players are 6-0 KC Berry, No. 3 scorer from last year, off to good start with 18.3 points, 2.8 steals per game ... help comes from 6-6 transfer from 3A state champion Beech Grove, Anthony Ball (15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds); 6-7 senior Steven Rogers, 7.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists; and 6-4 soph Melakih Cunningham, 7.3 rebounds, along with 6-1 senior Raekwon Cunningham, 6-5 senior Aycen Stevens, 6-1 soph Eric Hobson, and 6-3 Ty’reese Burnett.
Hawks host rival Mooresville, Friday, Dec. 16 in Battle of Highway 67.
FRANKLIN CENTRAL (4A) – This is one of veteran coach Criss Beyers youngest teams with only three seniors … Flashes were 9-14 last season with close wins against Pike and Hamilton Southeastern … winless after five starts … senior trio starts: 6-1 Bryce Hoover, 6-1 Elijah Crockett, and 6-6 Tushan Tiwnana … Junior guard Joshua Moriarty and 6-6 freshman guard EJ Hazelett start ... expect injured 5-10 junior sparkplug Dhani Flannigan to recover soon … Flashes rely on soph Darrius Helm, juniors Valen Mosley and Damarion Nicholson off the bench ... depth comes from juniors Dominic Allman and Nehemiah Smith and sophs Zachary Naessens (Flashes football field goal kicker), Carson Back, and Elijah Thompson … points hard to come by, averaging 44.2 points, haven’t scored over 50 yet … compete in rugged Hoosier Crossroads Conference.
“We want to play quick, move the ball, and play tough defense,” Beyers said. “I think we played well in our first four games, but we are a very young team.”
Flashes host Zionsville Friday and travel to New Palestine Saturday … last four regular-season games are at home.
GREENWOOD (4A) - Sixth-year coach Joe Bradburn returns with patented Woodman style offense that tests defensive patience and a face-to-face defense ... coming off 9-14 campaign that included seven losses in row ...Woodmen are a combo of some experienced players and newbies ... 1-4 after rough weekend at Franklin and Columbus North where Bulldogs held Woodmen to only 30 points ... Woodmen have two returning starters in burly 6-5 senior Carter Campbell and 6-0 junior Jake Mosemann. Veteran returnees are 5-10 junior Jakeb Hornbeak, 6-1 junior Cade Kelly, 6-0 senior Nash Peterson, and 6-0 senior Jackson Kidwell. Newcomers include seniors Jabar Elemikan and Nathan Kremer, sophomores Ethan King and Wyatt Peterson and freshman Jase Bennett. Greenwood Gymnasium site of four-team holiday week tourney, Dec. 29.
GREENWOOD CHRISTIAN (1A) - Second-generation coach Jackson Williams produced 17 wins last season ... defeated Parke Heritage in opener … snapped three-game losing skid with 43-40 upset of host Lutheran Saturday … returning starters are 6-3 senior Blake Shewmaker, 6-1 junior Max Booher, and Ian Reed ... 6-3 senior Parker Satre returns after an outstanding soccer campaign with 5-11 soph Noah Reed. Depth comes from Cougars, juniors 6-7 Reid Smith and 5-10 Jordan Taulman, and sophomores, 6-1 Evan McIntire, 5-9 Ben Comerford, and 6-1 Zach Haynes ... traditionally rugged schedule against 10 teams above Class A that prepares GCA for playoffs ... closed last season with nine straight wins and trip to sectional title game against rival Lutheran ... like last season, Williams wants Cougars playing best ball when playoffs begin.
LUTHERAN (1A) - Watch out for high-flying Saints (1-1) ... put up 19 wins last year ... football team success helps overall athletic culture ... opened with home win against Cascade but upset Saturday by rival Greenwood Christian … fiery fourth-year coach Remus Woods has 53 wins in three seasons ... reached regional championship game last season ... Saints have size and speed ... frustrated by slow-down games … 5-10 sparkplug LJ Ward moves ball quickly with 6-5 senior “bigs” KJ Patterson and Kameron Patterson - a trio that combined for 35 points last season ... Woods leaning toward sophs, 6-3 Cayden Loescher and 5-9 Boss Jones to start ... pace of offense demands strong bench with 6-4 senior Micah Mackay off state championship football team, classmates, 5-10 Durray Smith and 6-0 Aiden Alialy, plus juniors, 6-6 Taurean Langston and 6-0 Cole Hess, and 6-6 soph RaiShaun McHaney ... Class A Cougars play “up” against eight 3A and 4A teams, including Marion County tourney ... close out regular season with five of last six games at home.
PERRY MERIDIAN (4A) - Mark James, “the dean of Southside coaches,” is in his 41st season, his fifth with the Falcons ... won 36 games in last four seasons at Perry ... has .64.0 career winning percentage ... five more wins to reach milestone 600th career win ... lost first three games before upsetting visiting Whiteland, 48-44 Saturday … points hard to find, averaging only 39.3 points per game ... goal is to hold opponents below 40 points … has size with returning starters, 6-6 Patrick Schott and 6-4 Richard Dube ... must find impact players among 6-0 seniors Brayden Jones and Parker Huntsman and juniors, 6-5 Ryan Terrell, 6-2 Joseph Brewer, and 6-0 John Mercer ... Plainfield visits on Dec. 16, Center Grove on Dec. 21 ... last won a sectional game in 2011; last sectional trophy in 2010.
RONCALLI (4A) - Michael Wantz, now assistant principal for student life, stepped away from coaching after 20 years with program record 271 wins over 20 years plus four sectional and one regional title ... former standout and 15-year assistant coach Jamin Wernke (RHS Class of 2002) inherits the helm ... opened by defeating Shortridge and Triton Central but then upset by Decatur Central ... Wantz leaves Wernke with two returning starters, 6-4 senior Luke Kegerreis (12.0 points) and 6-2 classmate Nolan Tunny (17.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists) ... Royals (2-1) have size and some quickness ... burly senior Trevor Lauck returns to basketball (9.0 points); junior Drew Kegerreis (6.0 points) adds pop ... more help comes from 6-3 senior Luke Skartfedt, 6-0 senior Shaun Byrne, and 6-0 sophomore Judd Selke ... seeking to avoid fifth straight losing season ... host own four-team holiday tourney on Dec. 29 Royals ... all five Circle City games among final eight games of regular season.
SOUTHPORT (4A) – Cardinals posted first winning season (14-12) since 2015-2016 … Cardinals off on 3-2 start with narrow losses to Ben Davis in overtime and Crown Point in close Forum Tipoff Classic game Saturday … fifth-year coach Eric Brand has team he really likes – quick on defense and penetrating on offense.
“This is a great group of kids that play hard, in general,” Brand said. “It all goes back to the defensive end to be successful. We still have to guard against those mental letdowns.”
Cardinals have super experience with eight seniors … Starters are 6-2 Indiana All-Star candidate A.J. Dancler, who can penetrate most defenses on the dribble, 6-0 Keyon Miller, 6-6 Nickens Lemba, 6-5 Jayden Pinkston and 6-4 Jeff Pinkston … 10 deep with bench of 6-1 Tanner Percifield, 6-4 Shane Handlon, Terrion Washington, 5-10 Jye Rudolph, and 6-4 Jack Turner.
Cardinals visit Bloomington North Saturday and host Mt. Vernon Saturday … begins stretch of five straight road games Dec. 20 at Avon … have a Dec. 30 date at 1:30 p.m. against Plainfield in Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
WHITELAND (4A) - Warriors off to 2-3 start under fourth-year coach Nate Cangany ... coming off banner season with Mid-State and Johnson County championships ... repeating depends upon how fast a foursome up from JV can adjust to varsity ... returning starters are 6-4 senior Austin Willoughby (11.3 points) and 6-1 junior Wiatt McLaughlin (14.0 points, 2.7 steals) ... help coming from senior center Brayden Roy (9.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists), junior guard Jaskirat Banwait (3.0 assists), and senior guard DJ Helm ... up from JV are seniors Avery Scifres and Maalik Perkins and sophs Gavin Stubbe and Ethan Edwards ... three straight home games (Dec. 16, Center Grove; Dec. 20, Seymour; and Dec. 22 Roncalli) before traveling to North Vermillion holiday tourney Dec. 27.