EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of articles on the second annual Ohio Valley Hoops Classic Nov. 27-28 at Wilmington College’s Fred Raizk Arena. Twenty teams from around the area will converge on the WC campus to compete in this year’s event.
Blanchester vs. Eastern Brown
Saturday, Nov. 28, 2:45 p.m.
After going 3-18 in his first year, then 7-14 in his second year, head coach Adam Weber feels this season could be a breakout year for his Blanchester Wildcats.
“We want to establish a winning tradition here at Blanchester and we feel this team has the talent to win a league championship,” said Weber.
When he leads his Wildcat team into battle against the Eastern Brown Warriors in this year’s Ohio Valley Hoops Classic, he knows he will be facing the type of program he would like to establish at Blanchester.
“We have tremendous respect for coach (Rob) Beucler and his program,” said Weber. “We know to get where we want to go, we have to be able to beat teams like this.”
There is no doubt about the tradition of the Warrior program. Beucler enters his 21st season at his alma mater. He has a record of 308-147. He has won seven league titles in the always tough Southern Hills Athletic Conference. His teams made regional appearances in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2010. His 2002 team made it to the Final Four.
After winning SHAC titles in 2012 and 2013, the Warriors had a hiccup with a 9-13 record last season. Don’t expect them to be down long.
“Our success this year will depend on how quickly our young players develop and mature. Playing in this event against a good team like Blanchester will provide us a good early test,” said Beucler.
Marcus Day, Mick Hundley and Charles Bellamy all played big roles for Eastern Brown last year and return this year. Seniors Rich Kelch and Austin Doss, along with point guard Blake Rigdon, give the Warriors plenty of weapons as they look to compete for another SHAC title.
Weber’s Wildcats also have some weapons returning as they look to compete for a Southern Buckeye Conference National Division championship. Senior point guard Alec Richardson (12.3 ppg last season) will be a four-year starter and provides the Wildcats with excellent leadership.
Junior guard Dylan Miller also was a starter last season and averaged 9.7 points, while 6-4 senior Nick Grogg logged major minutes off the bench. Adding to the enthusiasm in Wildcatland is the fact that several players will move up from the 17-3 JV team of a year ago.
Beucler’s tenure at Eastern Brown has been characterized by the toughness of his teams, which is summed up by the phrase on their practice jerseys: “Only the bravest Indians grow up to be Warriors.”
For Blanchester to win, the Wildcats will have to match that intensity and not succumb to the defensive pressure of Eastern Brown. Weber’s ’Cats have a number of players capable of putting up big numbers on any given night. They will need a couple of those guys to step up and do so in order to beat the Warriors. It should be an entertaining game and will likely come down to the last few possessions before a winner is decided.