By Brad Morris
AMANDA — It is about as close to a clean slate as a high school varsity program can get.
After graduating a large senior class and having one starter transfer to a new school, first-year coach Austin Smith has just one player returning with major varsity experience in 5-9 senior guard Tucker Shamblin, who averaged seven points a game last season.
“Tucker is going to handle the point for us and be one of our main scorers,” said Smith, who served five seasons as an assistant coach before being elevated when former coach Jamie Justus became athletic director. “We’re also going to depend on Tucker to be a leader and help along our younger and inexperienced players.”
The Aces (8-15, 3-11 in 2021-22) will also look to utilize seniors Levi Owens in the post and Miguel Lobo on the wing.
“Levi and Miguel don’t have much varsity experience, but they’ve been through the program and know what is expected,” Smith said. “We’re going to need both of them to also be leaders and to answer questions for our younger guys along the way.
“Miguel is going to guard the opponent’s best guard, he plays really hard and he is going to score on some hustle plays for us. Levi has a bigger body than last year due to the work he put in over the summer and fall. He’s going to be one of our bigger rebounders and he has worked to develop his game around the rim.”
Smith will also look to work in juniors Taylon Conrad and Jace Morrison.
“Taylon is going to defend the other team’s point guard when he is on the floor, and Jace is back out after not playing for the past three or four seasons,” Smith said. “Jace is around 6-4, so he is a taller player who will help out rebounding and defensively in the post, along with getting a few putbacks here and there.”
Smith expected sophomore Logan Stevens to have a starting role, but a broken leg late in football season will sideline him for most of the season. Another sophomore, Maddox Cupp, will also likely miss the opening weeks of the season.
“Logan is an athletic player who we were going to look to for some scoring, helping to handle the basketball and guarding the shooting guard or wing,” Smith said. “Maddox is probably one of the better shooters on the team and can also handle the ball some.”
The first-year boss will look to utilize Brody Elder and Brady Holbrook out of that same sophomore class.
“Brady is similar to what Miguel will give us at the three or the four and he is another player who has a motor and will really get after it defensively,” Smith said. “Brady is going to help us handle the basketball and take some pressure off of Tucker.”
Amanda-Clearcreek will also look to use a pair of freshmen in Brennan Rich and Tanner Rose.
“Tanner is around 6-1 or 6-2, so he can play more of a four,” Smith said. “He’s pretty skilled for a freshman, strong and athletically ready for the varsity level.
“Brennan can play a two or three, he can handle the ball a little bit and is also really athletic for a freshman. We want to use that motor he has and the energy he can create.”
Smith realizes that the Aces will likely be in for some growing pains this winter with getting their roster varsity experience in a highly competitive Mid-State League Buckeye Division.
“We are probably going to have a few struggles here and there with the youth and inexperience, but what we will be looking for is to develop our younger players, for them to play hard as a team and compete with maximum effort in every game,” he said. “We want to compete with teams and really make them work for it if they do beat us.”
No. Player Gr.
1 Taylon Conrad 11
2 Miguel Lobo 12
4 Landon Mills 10
5 Tucker Shamblin 12
11 Logan Stevens 10
13 Brady Holbrook 10
14 Levi Owens 12
21 Jace Morrison 11
22 Trey Hedrick 11
23 Brody Elder 10
24 Brennan Rich 9
25 Tanner Rose 9
33 Maddox Cupp 10
44 Peter Smith 10
Coach: Austin Smith
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