The Carlisle High School boys basketball team has been a consistently strong Southwestern Buckeye League unit in recent years, and that isn’t expected to change this season.
The Indians have multiple key pieces returning in 2016-17 and hope to be in the hunt for the SWBL Buckeye Division championship.
“We got injured last year and had some internal stuff that happened. You’ve got to keep them all together, and you’ve got to keep them healthy,” second-year Carlisle coach Don Ridinger said. “We’ve kind of adopted a ‘We Are One’ saying this year. If we play as a family, we can play well.
“We were a little bit behind because of football, but having an older team has allowed us to move quickly with some of the stuff we want to do. Because we’ve been doing it for a while, it’s like review for a lot of them.”
Carlisle lost Daulton Butler and his 16.8-point scoring average to graduation, but returns seven of its top 10 scorers from a 14-9 team.
Justin Flor, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, is a returning starter, along with senior guards Seth Butler and Adam Goodpaster. Senior forward Logan Baker and junior point guard Jake Moore also got some starts and played a lot last season.
Ridinger likes the Indians’ size with Flor, 6-5 senior forward Steve Summer, the 6-3 Baker and 6-2 senior forwards Caleb Boy and Brad Harrison.
“We’re definitely a big team, but I have guards with good quickness as well,” Ridinger said. “We’re going to push the ball and get after it a little bit, but I think our size will allow us to pound the ball inside in the halfcourt.”
Flor averaged 10.3 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last year while setting a single-season school record for blocks (89). Boy didn’t play in 2015-16 and will bring a physical presence to the floor.
“Caleb could be a sleeper,” Ridinger said. “He’s a defensive guy that’s going to get a lot of rebounds and some garbage around the rim. I think he’ll make things happen on the defensive end.”
He has a number of guys that can shoot the 3, especially Goodpaster, Butler, Baker and Flor. But Carlisle will focus more on its inside game than a lot of long-range bombing.
Adding depth will be senior guard Austin Spencer and sophomore guard Joe Gay.
“I think we could have very balanced scoring,” Ridinger said. “We’ve been really working on communication while on the court. With an older team, you would think that would be kind of a given, but it’s been the thing we’ve been really stressing this preseason.”
He sees a lot of parity in the Buckeye Division. Northridge has won three straight titles, but was hit hard by graduation. Carlisle was 9-3 in league play last year — three games behind the Polar Bears, but four games ahead of third-place squads Waynesville and Preble Shawnee.
“I can’t pinpoint one team that’s heads and tails above the rest,” Ridinger said. “I think we definitely have the potential to compete night in and night out with the other six teams in our half of the league. But 22 games is a long season, and it’s always hard to win on the road in the SWBL.”
The Indians will open the season with a Buckeye contest at Waynesville on Friday.
Coach: Don Ridinger, second season
2015-16 Record: 14-9 overall, 9-3 in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division (second place)
2016-17 Schedule (all start times 7:15 p.m. unless noted): Dec. 2 — at Waynesville; Dec. 6 — Monroe; Dec. 9 — Northridge; Dec. 13 — Preble Shawnee; Dec. 16 — at Madison; Dec. 22 — at Middletown Christian; Dec. 27 — at Valley View; Dec. 30 — at Dayton Christian; Jan. 3 — Franklin; Jan. 6 — Milton-Union; Jan. 13 — Dixie; Jan. 17 — at Xenia Christian, 8 p.m.; Jan. 20 — at Preble Shawnee; Jan. 21 — at Tri-County North; Jan. 24 — Brookville; Jan. 27 — Madison; Jan. 31 — at Milton-Union; Feb. 4 — Badin; Feb. 7 — at Dixie; Feb. 10 — Waynesville; Feb. 14 — at Twin Valley South; Feb. 17 — at Northridge