AMANDA — With three of its five top scorers, its two best rebounders and two of its top three leaders in assists lost to graduation, Amanda-Clearcreek will be looking to its returning players to settle into expanded roles this season.
“This is one of the best senior classes I have been around in terms of leadership and helping the younger kids in the program,” said Amanda-Clearcreek coach Jamie Justus, a past assistant with the program who returned to southwest Fairfield County after leading the boys basketball program at Nelsonville-York. “That’s also important, because we’re going to need our returning players to contribute more this season and they realize that and want to do what it takes for us to be successful in a very tough league.”
The Aces (16-8, 7-7 in 2019) return two starters in senior point guard Jayse Miller (10.6 points, 4.3 assists) and senior forward Jesse Connell (six points, 4.7 rebounds).
“Jayse will run the point, get us into the offense and be our floor general,” Justus said. “We’re looking for Jayse to score a lot more this season and we’ll need to set some screens that he can come off of and get to the basket. We’re also going to ask Jayse to guard the other team’s point guard.
“Jesse was a lock down defender last season and is a great competitor, like Jayse and the rest of our seniors are. We’ve been working with Jesse and our other post players on some post moves, and we’ll need Jesse to step up his scoring and rebounding this season.”
Senior guards Peyton Madison and Jeff Bolin came off the bench a year ago and will both have enhanced roles this season.
“We’re going to spread the floor with our offense and we’re going to have Peyton on the wing and use his athleticism to get to the rim,” Justus said. “Peyton is going to need to score and rebound a little more in addition to helping create some transition opportunities on the defensive end.
“Jeff was more of a spot-up shooter last season, but he really worked his tail off in the offseason and is a much more complete player, both offensively and defensively. Jeff can get to the basket and also still shoot the three.”
Junior Lane Stevens will help handle the basketball and junior Connor Lafferty offers the Aces some additional depth at guard. Junior Anthony Buckley will help Connell in the post.
“Lane is an excellent ball-handler and we have a couple of guys who can give Jayse a break from having to handle the ball, so we can use him in some different ways,”
Justus said. “Connor is an athletic guard, and Anthony is a physical kid at 6-4 who will help us rebound and give us some size in the post.”
The Aces can tap other sources for additional depth, including senior Isaiah McQuaid, juniors Brody Pugh, Nate Hunter and Drew Evans, and sophomores Cade Young, Tayvon Miller and Peyton Cassley.
Amanda-Clearcreek opens the season on Friday at defending Scioto Valley Conference and district champion Zane Trace in the final game of the day at the Tip-Off Classic.