ROCKTON — Hononegah was tough in football, winning back-to-back undefeated NIC-10 titles. They should be just as tough — physically, anyway — in basketball, with many of the same players, starting with 6-foot-8, 340-pound center Kaden Carnes, 6-4 forward Nick Pierson and guards Drew Grygiel and Sam Tresemer.
“Between our success in basketball and our success in football, those guys are used to winning,” coach Mike Miller said. “Hopefully, that’s going to translate for us this year.”
Point guard Caleb Donaldson moved away, leaving 5-10 guard Zach Hedrington as Hononegah’s only returning starter. Hedrington is a good 3-point shooter — and he’s not alone.
“If you grow up in Hononegah, you have to be able to shoot the 3,” Miller said. “We have a lot of guys who have the ability to space the floor, and with some big kids inside, hopefully we’ll be a team that’s difficult to guard.”
Carnes may be massive, but he also moves well. He could be hard to deal with if Hononegah shooters prevent defenders from collapsing inside.
“Kaden is a really, really good athlete for his size,” Miller said. “He’s got great hands. Being as big and strong as he is, the other coaches are going to have to have a plan on how they defend him for sure.”
Hononegah’s 3-point shooting should be the Indians’ X-factor.
“Shooting covers up a lot of weaknesses,” Miller said. “That’s going to be one of our strengths. There are going to be some nights we look really good because of how we shoot the ball.”
Matt Trowbridge: 815-987-1383; email@example.com; @matttrowbridge
Indians at a glance
Coach: Mike Miller (26 years, 516-255)
Last season: 20-9 (11-5)
Predicted finish: 4th
Returning starters: Zach Hedrington (5-10 Sr. G)
Other key players: Nick Pierson (6-4 Sr. F), Drew Grygiel (6-1 Sr. G), Sam Tresemer (6-0 Sr. G), Kaden Carnes (6-8 Sr. C), Christian Mazurkiewicz (6-2 Sr. F), Benji Golter (6-1 Jr. G), Isaiah Zawlocki (5-10 Jr. G), Justin Jackson (6-7 Jr. C), Chris Akelaitis (6-3 Jr. F), Sam Scott (6-2 Jr. G), Nate Tell (5-10 Jr. G), Trent DeVries (6-1 Soph. G), Jarrett Strate-Lutzow (6-4 Soph. F), Carson Roberts (6-0 Soph. G), Gabe Roessler (6-0 Soph. G).
Strengths: 3-point shooting, post play
Weaknesses: Quickness, lack of experience
Outlook: Hononegah seems headed toward its third consecutive 20-win season. On a hot shooting night, the Indians could beat any team in the conference, but could also be upset on a night their 3-point shooters are off.