The 2018 Mercy Health Elida Tip-Off Classic rings in the boys basketball season for many area high school fans this weekend.
Marking its 30th anniversary, the annual two-day tournament features the usual suspectw Shawnee, Lima Central Catholic, Elida and Bath. On Friday Shawnee will match up with Bath at 6:30 p.m. Fifteen minutes after game one Elida will play LCC. The consolation and championship games will take place on Saturday starting at 6:30. Presale tickets are on sale at each school for $4 for students and $6 for adults. All tickets at the door will be $7. Doors will open at 5:45 p.m.
All four coaches agree that this is a great opportunity to get an early glimpse of where there teams are at and what to work on.
Bath and Elida enter the tournament looking to fill holes after being hit hard by graduation. Lima Central Catholic and Shawnee have senior talent but will be looking to find some team chemistry.
Bath head coach Shawn Allen finds himself with a young, inexperienced squad after graduating six seniors and he points out that with them went 95 percent of the team’s scoring last year.
The Wildcats are coming off a 10-14 season with four returning letterwinners, Derek Grigsby, Steven Shook, Devan Grigsby and Josh Carmen, back this year.
Because of this Allen said he expects to play five to eight freshmen at the varsity level. The freshmen he is looking at will be Ian Armentrout, Jonah Wauben, Carter Parlapiano, Andrew Stahr, Cyrys Burden and Cole Paralpiano.
“Our freshmen class is very talented but there are probably undersized for varsity basketball,” Allen said. “They work extremely hard. Our older kids have bought into everyone’s going to play and we are going to play 10 to 12 guys probably until Christmas and maybe 10 guys throughout the year. I think we have done some good things but we have to find a scorer. We have to find a rebounder. We have to find all those roles that were solidified by seniors and we have to start over.”
Allen added the preseason has been a mixed bag of players stepping up while on the other hand showing their age and looking inexperienced.
In the two-day tourney, Allen will be looking for his players to be competitive and try to find their role on the team.
“We have to compete and try and get better,” Allen said. “We’ve done a whole bunch of things in scrimmages but the in tip off every kid tries to do more than they are capable and they get nervous. You think you have someone solid but had a bad night because they are scared or nervous and then you get other kids who step up. I think that is where we are at. It will be a process.”
Allen added that since a number of his younger players participated in football and doesn’t think the bright lights and big crowds of the field house will be a factor.
Even though there are a lot of unknowns facing Allen, the Bath head coach remains confident his players will develop as the season progresses and the Wildcats want to be in the thick of it at the end of the year.
The Bulldogs lost eight seniors to graduation but Elida head coach Denny Thompson said he feels he has the talent to be successful this season. The Bulldogs, coming off an 18-5 season, return one letter winner, Max Parker, however, there are a number of promising newcomers such as senior Matt Fish, Drew Biglow and Drew Brockert and juniors Dante Wheeler (Jr.) Dylan Buetner (Jr.) and Logan Johnson (Jr.), along with freshman Evan Unruh.
“I have really only have one guy who played significant minutes last year,” Thompson said. “If you look at percentages I think we lost 96 percent of everything we had last year.”
Thompson is not calling this a total rebuilding effort because they do have a number of upperclassmen on the roster, however, they have seen limited time at the varsity level.
“We are upbeat and hopeful we can put some things together,” Thompson said. “It comes down to how do these kids handle the limelight.”
Thompson added that he will not only be watching their skill set but how they react to situation and if they are able to keep their emotions in check and keep their composure under pressure and not panic.
With near capacity crowds at the respective games, the players will get a feel for playing under a microscope.
“It will be interesting to see how it goes but if we can get the learning curve sharpened up a little bit and make some strides I think we can be ok,” Thompson said. “We are expecting to be a tough out. If we can get some things put together and play to our potential we can be in the mix.”
LIMA CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Lima Central Catholic returns seven returners from last year’s 9-15 squad and head coach Frank Kill.
Junior Biggs Johnson and senior De’Montre Garner are two returning starters and will be assisted by returning letterwinners Seniors Ron Banks, Jeremy Allen and Dominic Riepenhoff, along with junior Michael Ripenhoff and sophomores Shawn Thomas and Nate Stolly.
“We have a lot of energy. A lot of excitement and a lot of athleticism,” Kill said. “Last year two years we have been kind of a halfcourt team and this year we are looking to push the tempo this year and that might allow us to score easier buckets.”
Kill adds that defense will be a major factor if the Thunderbirds are going to run this year.
Expectations are high for this team Kill said and he anticipates a competitive season but one thing he will be looking for in the tip-off classic is who is going to step up as a leader on and off the floor.
“We’ve always had seniors that have led by example and I need someone to step up vocally,” Kill said. “Someone who is going to take charge on the floor and after these last two years we need to come together as a team and understand our roles.”
Kill said he wants to make it a memorable season for his seniors and it will take a total team effort and as long as they do what they are supposed to do things will take care of themselves.
“With four seniors and three sophomores who is the star of the show?” Kill said. “Well it doesn’t really matter as long as the team does what it is supposed to do we are good. We are team first and individual accomplishments second.”
Shawnee is the most veteran team coming into the tip-off classic.
Coming off an 18-8 year the Indians return three senior starters in Justin Behnke, Johnny Caprella and Sheridan O’Neal, along with three returners, Senior Jake Hutchins and sophomores Tyson Elwer and Logan Maxwell.
Even though the Indians bring back a wealth of experience, head coach Mark Triplett said is looking for some team chemistry early in the year.
“We have a pretty athletic and deep group but they really haven’t played basketball together,” Triplett said. “The first practice of the season (earlier this month) was the first time we had our whole team together…we just never had everyone together so trying to learn how to play together and communicate and things like that but they are a hard working group and a fun team to coach.”
Triplett will looking to see how his team forms a bond that will lead to wins at the tip-off classic but warns to expect the unexpected over the two days of competition.
“There is a lot of different personnel with kids and you really know who is going to be out on the court,” Triplett said. “You watch scrimmages but lineups and rotations start to change a little bit and especially with our first game and so many new faces with Bath….We are going to go our and worry about us and worry about energy and effort and things we can control and not things our of our control and if we do that and play hard hopefully good things will happen.”
Triplett added that this is an early test but he wants to see improvement every day.
“I like our chances in the long run,” Triplett said. “I think the WBL is going to be a bear and I think any one can beat anybody.”
The same holds true for this year’s tip-off classic.