On the day in 2013 when Mark Triplett was introduced as Shawnee High School’s boys basketball coach he said he wanted his teams to get out and run with the ball on offense.
This year’s Indians aren’t the first of Triplett’s team to incorporate elements of that style, but they might have done it better than the rest of them, averaging 71.5 points a game in an era of disappearing offense.
Scoring points wasn’t the only thing the Indians were good at, though. When all high school winter sports in Ohio were shut down because of the coronavirus, they might have been on their way to the greatest boys basketball season in Shawnee history.
And that helped make Triplett the Coach of the Year on this year’s edition of The Lima News boys basketball Dream Team.
Shawnee finished its season 25-0, including victories over Lima Senior, Ottawa-Glandorf and Findlay. It was ranked No. 1 in the Division II state poll and was preparing for a regional semifinal game when its season ended abruptly.
This year’s 25 straight wins came after a 24-3 season last year that ended one game short of the state tournament with a loss to Columbus South in the Division II regional championship game at Bowling Green.
George Mangas, this year’s Division II state Player of the Year, and Tyson Elwer were the only returning starters this season from the 2018-19 team, but it didn’t take long for guys who were back-ups last year to fill bigger roles.
Despite how it ended, Triplett said it was a highly enjoyable season.
“That’s the cool thing about this team. We were constantly moving forward and looking at ways we could improve but they were just a group of guys who truly enjoyed each other and loved being around one another. When you have a group like that — and it doesn’t hurt when you’re having the type of year we did have — we could kind of enjoy the moment and live in the moment while still finding ways we could get better for the next game,” he said.
With every starter except point guard John Barker coming back next season, there will be big expectations again for Shawnee.
“Every year is different. John Barker was absolutely our engine. We’re going to have to replace that. We have guys who are going to have to step up from a leadership standpoint,” Triplett said.
“I think they’re excited about that challenge. We’d go play right now. We definitely were disappointed with the way things ended. We’re proud of what the kids accomplished and nobody can take away from them what they did this year but it’s just kind of an unsatisfying ending,” he said.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414.