22-23 Winter Preview: Blanchester boys basketball

Blanchester struggled in 2021-22, finishing 3-17 overall and 3-9 in the National Division. Two wins came over East Clinton.

Mike Malott, a former standout player for the Wildcats, takes over the program. He’ll be assisted by Keith Abbott and Hunter Bare.

Seniors on last year’s team who graduated in the spring were Brison Lucas, Seth Akers, Jacob Haun, Justin Hogsett and Gabe McVey. Lucas was the team’s leading scorer in 2021-22.

Long-time head Adam Weber also has moved on. He is tied with Bob Jacoby Jr. as the winningest boys basketball coach in BHS history. Weber was 91-112 in nine season and led the Wildcats to three league titles.

The returning players include Bryce Sipple, a starter, along with Zach West and Dylan Creager.

“We will have a nearly completely new roster,” said Malott. “We expect our junior and sophomore classes to play a big role at the varsity level.”

Malott said the lack of experience will cause a few bumps in the road during the season and how his team handles those situations and grows from them will be a key to a successful season.

“I think we will be pretty athletic and able to really push the pace,” he said. “We are undersized (and) our ability to compete on the glass will be a major factor if we are to have success in the SBAAC.”

Despite the shortcomings the team faces, Malott is not backing down. He sees this as a new beginning.

“With the start of a new era in the program we have a chance to set standards with our enthusiasm, attitude and chemistry that can be passed down to future players,” he said. “It’s a very unique opportunity for our group of seniors. The leadership they show can set the tone for years to come.”

One of the seniors who has no varsity experience is Dylan Estep, who has not played basketball since being in junior high school.

“He started coming out this fall to our open gyms,” the coach said. “He has made an amazing amount of improvement over the last few months. His attitude and hard work has won him a spot on our team. I’m really happy for him and expect him to contribute this year.”