- Laurel Pfahler Contributing Writer
Badin High School boys basketball coach Gerry Weisgerber has been stressing the importance of seeing “just a little improvement” from his team each day.
To this point, the Rams have answered that challenge through a successful preseason and 2-0 start, despite missing their top returning scorer from last year because of injury. But now the first big test comes.
Badin hosts Alter on Friday in a Greater Catholic League Coed Division opener and meets visiting St. Xavier on Tuesday before traveling Carroll on Dec. 15. Alter is the defending North Division champion, and St. X is off to a 2-0 start.
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“We have a tough stretch our next three games, so that will be a big test to see where we’re at,” Weisgerber said. “Alter has some good size and they play some zone, which we don’t see much of, so it’s a big test to see if we can hit our perimeter jump shots that we know we’re going to count on a lot this season, and anyone in the GCL is going to be a tough opponent.”
Weisgerber said he liked what he saw in the first two games, wins against Cincinnati Christian and Ponitz last Friday and Saturday, respectively.
The Rams are relying on several inexperienced players while without 6-foot-4 junior guard/forward Justin Pappas, who averaged 8.3 points a game last year and was set to lead the team this season before suffering an ACL tear in July. He likely is out until at least February.
So far the seniors are stepping up, though. Forward Caleb Meyer, who came off the bench last year, is leading the team in scoring with 14 points per game, and guard Daunte DeCello, one of two returning starters, adds 9 points. Forward/center Jakob Tipton is the other returning starter who is once again contributing, and guard Kyle Young also brings back experience.
Everyone else is fairly new to the varsity level.
“We’ve come out pretty well,” Weisgerber said. “We’ve already seen improvement just from Game 1 to Game 2. We’ve got a lot of inexperienced kids playing, so I think our first game there were some first-game jitters, but the next night we were much more composed and playing more like we thought we could.”
Badin went from rushing shots Friday to finding a rhythm Saturday and knocking down more shots from the perimeter, Weisgerber said.
The defense also has been solid as the Rams have taken 10 charges through two games.
“They’re sticking their nose in and doing what’s necessary on the defensive end of the floor,” Weisgerber said. “That’s something we preach all the time, and it’s nice to see they are buying in. That plays into their confidence level.”
Badin is trying to push the tempo this year and has matched up well with the quicker teams so far in scrimmages and games.
This next three-game stretch features more physical teams, so Weisgerber said while the Rams still want to get out and run, they’ll have to beat the opponents more with their half-court game, particularly Alter.
Weisgerber said with the first-game jitters out, the Rams are prepared for their first league games. The confidence building started in the preseason with the scrimmages, and with the emphasis on getting “a little better each day,” it continues to grow.
“Through our scrimmages we saw different styles of teams, and that helped instill confidence showing they can have success against different kinds of teams,” Weisgerber said. “Our junior varsity team had a good season last year, our freshman team had a good year, so those guys have confidence knowing they can beat people, and then you combine that with the returning varsity players and their experience. I tried to build confidence in the scrimmages knowing we’ll see different types of teams so they can see they can play with anyone.”