Boys’ top scorer returns in Jones
After taking a step forward last season, the Northwestern boys basketball program looks to keep up the progress this year.
It won’t be easy. The Tigers graduated 10 seniors, including five of their top seven scorers from last season.
On the bright side, last year’s leading scorer is back in senior guard Parker Jones.
“Parker has to do everything for us,” said third-year head coach Billy Hallman. “He’s going to make us go. He was a starter last year and was really the main guy last year.”
Jones, a 5-10 guard, averaged 11.14 points last year.
Senior Brady Mengel returns after becoming a starter midway through last season. The 6-1 guard was the team’s third-leading scorer last year at 7.9 points per game.
“Brady is kind of that vocal leader and Parker is the leader by example,” said Hallman. “They have a good relationship with the other guys. They’ve all been playing together for the last seven years.”
Joining those two in the starting line up this season will be seniors Dustin Snyder (G/F) and Connor Hess (F), along with junior Rob Syfried (F). While Snyder played in 16 games last season, Hess played in just seven and Hess got in two varsity contests.
The first few players off the bench will be seniors Ryan McCann (F) and Dylan Lobach (F), junior Isaac Fatzinger (G) and freshman Sam Yadush (G). McCann saw time in 15 games last year but the other three will see their first varsity action this when they take the court this season.
“Last year I felt like we had a drop off after six or seven[players],” said Hallman. “This year I think we can go 10-11 deep. As long as everybody buys into their role.”
The rest of this year’s varsity roster includes senior Andrew Lister (F), junior Niko Fager (G) and sophomore Reuben Kemmerer (G).
The Tigers will look to play up tempo this year and stay out of the half-court game as they don’t have any players over 6-foot-1.
“We’re going to get up and down the floor,” said Hallman. “We have to. We’re not big, so we’ve got to run the floor. We do rebound well as a team. If we can rebound we can get out and run. We struggle shooting the ball because we shoot a lot of threes.”
Northwestern hopes to improve on last year’s 6-11 league record and their 9-13 overall mark. That was their best league record since going 7-9 in 2009-10.
“We feel like we can compete with anybody in the league,” said Hallman. “Our ultimate goal is to get make the postseason. Really we were two games out of making league playoffs last year. We lost a game at the buzzer and we lost one in overtime where we gave up a three at the buzzer. So we’re right there. We’re close.”
Hallman likes the improvement he has seen through summer and open gyms. This year’s group might lack experience at the varsity level, but it has been working together since just over a month after last season ended.
“We’ve made a ton of progress since April when we started open gyms,” said Hallman. “We don’t have a ton of experience coming back. That’s why we played summer league down at Cedar Beach, to expose them to it. Same with the tournament. By the end of the tournament we beat Dieruff at SportsFest. It was good for the guys to experience that and get a taste of winning.
They’ve only gotten better since then. We had a great turnout at open gym. The guys are committed. We feel good about it.”