By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
This could be the year for the Concord High School boys basketball team to make a run in the Class 4A state tournament.
The Minutemen return an impressive eight letterwinners for last season’s 18-5 squad (5-2 in the NLC) and that has veteran coach Steve Austin excited about the possibilities.
“We have the potential to a really good team,” the coach said. “We have a ton of experience back. There are a couple of players that have been in the program for four years and others three years. The kids are very smart and they know how to win games. We are physically strong and very athletic. All of that could add up to a very good season.”
The Minutemen open the season Friday at John Glenn.
Highlighting the returnees are 6-6 senior forward Franko House (335 points) and 6-3 senior forward DuWhan Alford (151). Both are NCAA Division I athletes as House has signed to play basketball at Ball State and Alford is committed to play football at Eastern Michigan.
Both are entering their fourth season of basketball at Concord.
“House has worked on his ball handling and shooting during the offseason,” Austin said. “He is physically strong. He has some work to do on his defense. He got in foul trouble at times last season and we need him on the floor as much as possible this year. We have to get him a few more touches this season. We also would like to see a little more leadership from him as a senior.
“Alford is shooting the ball better than I have ever seen him. The other day in practice he made eight, nine or 10 3-pointers in a row. He is another senior that we are expecting to be a leader.”
Alford and House were both on the Concord football team that fell just one game short of playing for the Class 4A state championship.
“We have several players (eight) that were on the football team and were are hoping there is a carry over from that season to the basketball one,” Austin said.
Another key among the letterwinners as 5-8 junior guard Ramon Johnson (65).
“He is our point guard,” Austin said. “He has made great strides in handling the ball since last season.”
Other returnees are 6-2 senior forward Dakota Simon (23), 6-7 senior center Ghaneah Wayker (63), 6-4 senior guard Dylan Wynne (28), 6-2 junior forward Adam Glanders and 5-10 junior guard Jacob Kronk (4).
“We need a good season from Wayker,” Austin said. “He started out last season well and then he got hurt before returning strong at the end of the season. Glanders started some games a year ago. He is athletic and quick. He can rebound and handle the ball.”
The rest of the varsity players are 6-2 senior guard Cain Crowley, 6-3 sophomore forward Brett Austin (coach’s son), 6-1 sophomore guard Danny McMahon, 5-9 sophomore guard Jerrell Pointdexter, 6-5 sophomore forward Filip Serwatka (5) and 5-10 sophomore guard Ryan Tepe.
“Serwatka is a skilled offensive player,” the coach said. “He was our leading scorer with 19 points in our scrimmage (against Mishawaka Marian).”
Defense has been a point of emphasis so far in practice.
“Defense has been the main focus,” Austin said. “At this point in past seasons we have usually spent about 70 percent of our time on offense and the other 30 on defense. This year it has been the other way around. The rest of the coaching staff has convinced me to do it this way. We figured the offense is going to come.”
Before getting to the state tournament Austin has his sights set on the NLC title, something the Minutemen have not won since the 2004-05 season.
“We want to win the conference title since it has been awhile,” he said.
Fairfield is no longer on the schedule and the Minutemen will now be playing Wapahani in the IPSAC Shootout on Saturday, Dec. 22 at Indianapolis Marshall.
Losses to graduation were Jason Spriggs (304) and Seth Huxford (202).