If you caught a Logan Elm boys basketball game in the second half of last season, then you haven’t missed anything.
The Braves (11-11, 8-6 in 2019) return all five starters from the stretch run last year as they look to pick up the pace a little more in 2020.
“We’re stronger and more mature this season, so we want to try and force the tempo a little more than we did last season and take advantage of our athleticism,” Logan Elm coach Doug Stiverson said. “We’ve worked hard on the defensive end in the preseason and we want to pressure the ball more.
“On offense, we have a good mix of kids who can get to the basket and who can shoot the three, so we want to run our offense a little faster and spread the ball around.”
The Braves’ back court starts with juniors Isaac Ward (14.8 points), Jason Sailor (10.5 points) and Jeremy Wietelmann (7.3 points, 3.6 rebounds).
“Jeremy is going to run the point most of the time. He’s probably our best passer on the team and has been shooting the three pretty well in the preseason,” Stiverson said. “We want him to get to the basket a little more and create a little more off the dribble.
“Isaac has really improved his mid-range game to compliment his shooting from three. He has also added some strength to where he can finish around the basket more. Jason is a strong on-ball defender and also got stronger in the offseason. He can create his shot off the dribble.”
Junior Gabe Chalfin (9.2 points, 3.7 rebounds) has added a couple of inches to his frame, and Stiverson noted the progress Chalfin made in the offseason.
“Gabe has probably made the biggest jump from last season,” he said. “Gabe has expanded his game from being able to take it to the basket to also being able to shoot the three. We’re looking to take advantage of him being a little longer to be one of our consistent scorers and also one of our better defenders.
“We’ll ask him sometimes to guard a player taller than he is, but we think Gabe can do it with his length and athleticism.”
Senior Jared Harrington will play the post and receive help around the basket from juniors Trace Smith and Tyler Baer.
“Jared is going to have an important role of rebounding, being a good screener and also finishing some more around the basket this season,” Stiverson said. “We don’t have a lot of size, so we’re going to count on Jared being an enforcer defensively at around 6-foot-3 and keep guys off the boards.
“Trace is moving up from junior varsity and he had a really nice offseason. He’s going to do that dirty work of screening and rebounding, as well. Tyler is also a good rebounder and his size and length at 6-1 are going to be important to us, especially on nights when we face a taller lineup.”
Senior guard Luke Baldwin is expected to provide scoring and defense coming off the bench.
“Luke is playing with the confidence of a senior,” Stiverson said. “He can shoot the basketball, and he’s also a very good defense and is scrappy on the defensive end.”
The Braves open the season on Friday against Washington Court House at the Zane Trace Tip-Off Classic.