When the Hillsboro Indians and Wilmington Hurricane take the floor on Friday night in this year’s Ohio Valley Hoops Classic, each team will be facing s familiar foe.
The two teams competed annually as members of the South Central Ohio League before its demise, not once but twice.
Wilmington went to the Southern Buckeye Athletic & Academic Conference where the Hurricane won last season’s championship with a 10-0 record in the midst of a 17-6 season. Hillsboro struggled in its first year of competition in the new Frontier Athletic Conference finishing 3-7 and 8-16 overall.
Wilmington will have to rely on its traditionally strong man-to-man defense early on as coach Mike Nozska will have to replace the three leading scorers from a year ago. Jeffery Mansfield, Layne Griffith and Matt Smith are now all playing for Wilmington College.
The top returnees for the Hurricane are seniors Cam Coomer and Willie Morris and junior Sam Jacobyansky, but Morris is currently recovering from an injury and his status is uncertain. Nozska will look to 6-3 junior Chris Custis and 6-6 sophomore Matt Butcher to provide help. Transfer student Marko Anicic could also be in the mix once he becomes more accustomed to the style of play.
While the Indians lost an inside force in Phillip Mycroft, coach Bruce Miles returns some weapons. Senior Ethan Watson is a three-year starter who averaged 14 points per game last year and has 77 career three-point field goals. He should break the 1,000 point mark this season. Josh Keets is another three-year starter who averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds a game last season. Seniors Mason Swayne and Reese Bloomfield, along with sophomores Ryan Scott and Brad Miller should contribute.
The Hillsboro-Wilmington game will be preceded by a big school showdown between Dayton Dunbar and Lakota East, and followed by another former SCOL matchup when East Clinton tangles with McClain.