Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

November 21, 2012

Cougars pursuing deeper tournament run

Nick Gonnella
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — The South Decatur boys basketball team will feature a group of six seniors along with a younger nucleus that experienced success at the junior varsity level last year.

South appeared to be in position for a solid season and a chance to make a tournament run. The Cougars started 4-2, but went on to lose the next five games. South finished 8-12 in the regular season and lost to Oldenburg by six points in the sectional opener.

“We just never got over the hump,” said South head coach Tom Black. “We lost a lot of close games, and lost games in the fourth quarter. We start expecting to make a mistake, or miss a shot or turnover the ball. We easily could have won 12 games. They’d like to make a run at the sectional championship again. We should be able to throw our hat in the ring and expect to be competitive.”

Black looks forward to putting the program in a position to make positive strides and keep it going in the right direction.

“I think we’ll be competitive. We’ll win some games, and we’ll lose some games,” said Black, whose team is eyeing a winning season. “That’s certainly our goal, to win more than half of the games. The kids are working hard the past couple weeks. We were certainly competitive in our scrimmage against Henryville.”

Graduating in the spring were Michael England, Tyler Ewing, Josh Schwering and Kyle Cunningham.

Returning with the most varsity experience are seniors Byron Balser, Cameron Agnew and Jordan Hatton.

“Three seniors played quite a bit of varsity basketball,” said Black. They were all contributors and were all competitive. We certainly have some returning varsity experience.”

Hatton, who transferred from Jennings County his junior year, played full-time varsity.

“Jordan is a returning guy who played a lot of minutes last year,” said Black. “We’ll look to him to show some leadership, and ask of his team to play the basketball we need to be successful.”

Black sees flexibility among the lineup, with Balser, Johannigman and Kopplin being interchangeable at wing and post.

“Byron can face the basket, but he can also play inside,” said Black. “Johannigman can face the basket, but he can also play inside. Taylor Kopplin is versatile, too. We’re hoping that will work with the offense that we use.”

Black said Josh Miller, a 6-foot-3 senior, will contribute finesse and hustle.

Junior Andrew Wullenweber will play varsity full-time.

“He is certainly one of our major contributing players on our team,” said Black of Wullenweber. “He knows what kind of basketball we want to play, so he can fit right in and play the kind of basketball we’re going to play. We’ll find ways to shorten the learning curve for them.”

Kopplin and Johannigman were among the leading scorers on JV last season.

“Kopplin and Johannigman will have to get it in and do it right away,” said Black of their roles. “Johannigman played a key position on the football team this fall. We’re hoping that coolness under fire will translate to our team. I think those guys will step into some positions with a short learning curve.”

The junior varsity squad posted a 16-4 record.

“Kopplin, Johannigman and Miller, were all a part of that,” said Black. “We’re hoping that group of JV kids who are now seniors, will contribute that confidence we had last season. They certainly found a way to be successful without a lot of talent and athleticism, and had a great season. We hope that will mix in well with some seniors coming back.”

A few Cougars are playing South basketball for the first time. Myles Lewellyn transferred from Triton Cetnral and played JV basketball for them last season. Senior Taylor Campos transferred from North Decatur after basketball had started last season. Ben Tichenor decided to play basketball after playing football for South.

The junior varsity squad consists of 10 sophomores, while the freshman team will consist of 11 players.

Taking over the JV team is Jordan Stevens, who played college basketball at St. Joseph’s.

“The freshmen had a rough year, but they got more competitive as the season progressed, and they played close games. Coach Stevens is going to keep them positive and find ways to win. Played basketball with a lot of enthusiasm. We’re looking forward to Coach Stevens contributing to the program. We’re excited to have him join our program.”

Kelly Agnew will be the freshman coach, while Mark Koors will be Agnew’s volunteer assistant.

Doug Einhaus will coach the eighth grade team, while Shane Billingsley will coach the seventh graders.

“We’re very thankful for continuing to have them coaching the junior high,” said Black.

Contact Nick Gonnella at (812) 663-3111, x7003.