By Brad Morris
The New Hope Christian Academy boys basketball team has become a mainstay in the Ohio Christian School Athletic Association state tournament, playing for the championship in five of the last six seasons and winning three titles.
After finishing as state runner-up last season to rival Calvary Christian, when they let a three-point lead slip away in the final 90 seconds, the Statesmen are aiming to return to the top of the association this season.
“Our chemistry is really fantastic, because these guys like to be around each other, and they also hold each other accountable,” New Hope coach Shane Roese said. “This is also probably the deepest team that we’ve ever had from top-to-bottom.
“A couple keys to our success will be buying in on the defensive end and playing the type of defense that is necessary to be a championship team. I’m more of a man-to-man guy, but this team has played better in zone and switching those looks up over the course of a scrimmage to keep our opponent a little off-balanced.
“Running an uptempo offense is another one of our calling cards and we want to get 50-to-60 shots per game,” Roese added. “We feel like we have a nice lineup that has the ability to score the basketball. We’ll probably have three double-digit scorers and another couple of kids a little below that.”
Six-foot-seven junior forward Lane Bruning anchors the lineup after a breakout season in 2021-22 when he averaged a double-double of 17.1 points and 10.6 rebounds.
“I’ve been really pleased with Lane’s leadership and the maturity that he is playing with,” Roese praised. “He’s encouraging our other players, helping them get in the right spot and he’s like having another coach out there on the floor.
“Lane is an inside-out player who we want to control the paint, and he has worked on his strength with that. His quickness gives him an advantage on the block to score and grab rebounds, and he can also step out and knock down the three. Lane is actually our best pure shooter and that includes from three-point range.”
Senior Clayton Rhyne is a 6-1 guard who transferred in from Amanda-Clearcreek after averaging 15.1 points a season ago.
“We’re excited to have Clayton, because he is a natural scorer and has a knack for getting the ball into the hole,” Roese said. “The better part of Clayton’s game is probably getting the ball to the rim and scoring off the dribble. Clayton can also pull up off the dribble and knock down the 10–to-12 foot jumper. He probably has the best mid-range game we’ve had since Isaac Roese was on our 2018 team.
“He’s an unselfish player who will give it up and he is going to complement our transition game.”
Five-foot-10 sophomore guard Hunter Cavanaugh is looking to build off a debut high school campaign when he averaged 7.3 points.
“Hunter has grown a couple of inches and is starting to fill out his body and adding some muscle,” Roese said. “He’s a scrappy, hard-nosed player who is a solid on-ball defender and can also shoot the ball well.
“Hunter is a very unselfish player, sometimes so unselfish he will pass up a shot that we have to tell him later that he probably should have pulled the trigger on. Hunter is the type of player we want to average in the ballpark of 12 points a night.”
Adam Rink, a 5-9 senior guard, will help man the point for the Statesmen.
“Last year was Adam’s first playing organized ball and he made tremendous progress playing the point for our junior varsity team,” Roese said. “Adam is the heart of our team, because he’s a fighter, he loves to compete on the defensive end and he has a high motor.
“Adam does a nice job of pushing the basketball, seeing the floor and he is a down-hill-type guard. He’s also a vocal kid on the floor and is encouraging to his teammates.”
The Statesmen will also look to utilize six-foot senior guards Ethan Cook (5.2 points, 3 rebounds) and Andrew Swank.
“Ethan has made a lot of progress and a lot of that comes from the commitment he made to the weight room, along with working on his outside shot. He’s added that in addition to being able to drive to the basket,” Roese said. “He’s a solid team player who has embraced his role, and he’s also a solid defender who will do the dirty, gritty work that is needed for the team to be successful.
“Andrew is a great on-ball defender, he has quick hands to where he can get a few steals and also has quick feet. Andrew is a young man who will come off the bench and can change the tempo of the game for us.”
The Statesmen will also look to utilize Tyler Cook, Xander Rink and Nathaniel Ames coming off the bench.
“Those guys have a lot of athletic ability and are good kids who are going to help us out over the course of the season,” Roese said.
New Hope (11-12 in 2021-22) opens the season on Wednesday against Eastern Brown in the Zane Trace Tip-Off Classic.
The Statesmen will take part in two tournaments in December, the Buckeye Elite Showcase at Shawnee State against Portsmouth and the Roundtown Holiday Classic against Westfall and either Circleville or Athens.
New Hope will also have a rematch against Calvary Christian in the Statehouse on Dec. 20.
“We feel like we’ve put together a competitive schedule, playing mostly OHSAA schools that will help prepare us to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” Roese said. “This is a team that could go 15-7 going into the OCSAA tournament or 12-10 depending on how things come together, health and a little bit of luck.”
The Statesmen will also have a fun trip to Knightown, Indiana on Jan. 28 to scrimmage Fairfield Christian in the gym the movie Hoosiers was filmed in.
“That’s something we’ve wanted to do for a few years, but COVID-19 kinda got in the way,” Roese said. “That’s going to be special for our kids to have the opportunity to play in that gym and, honestly, for our coaches to also coach in that gym. We set it up as a scrimmage, so it’s more relaxed and everyone can play on that floor and have fun.”
No. Player Gr. Ht. Pos.
3 Hunter Cavanaugh 10 5-10 G
4 Adam Rink 12 5-9 G
11 Nathaniel Ames 9 5-9 G
12 Andrew Swank 12 6-0 G
13 Clayton Rhyne 12 6-1 G
15 Xander Rink 10 6-0 G
20 Jon Arni 12 5-11 G
23 Ethan Cook 12 6-0 G
33 Tyler Cook 10 6-1 G
34 Lane Bruning 11 6-7 G/F
Coach: Shane Roese
Assistant coaches: Doug Gilliland, Grant Gilliland, Jay Neff, Dave Roese, Caleb Engen
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