Prep boys basketball: Edgewood trying to build on last year’s success

3:04 p.m Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 Journal-News Sports
Edgewood guard Garrett Gabbard (right) and Northwest guard Jamique Dogan dive for a loose ball during their game at Ron Kash Court in Trenton on Jan. 14, 2017. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

Edgewood High School’s boys basketball team crafted a pretty good season in 2016-17 and hopes to keep things moving in the right direction this year.

The Cougars were 15-9 last season, ending a six-year streak of losing records, and placed fourth in the Southwest Ohio Conference with a 6-6 mark. They also beat Loveland in the Division I sectional, their first tournament win since 2007-08.

“I love my kids,” said Edgewood coach John Thomas, who’s 99-96 in nine seasons at the EHS helm and will go after win No. 100 in the season opener at Fenwick on Dec. 5. “Can this team win 15 games? Sure they can. They can win more. Can we get ourself in a situation where we don’t and still play good basketball? Yes. We’ve got a very tough schedule. I don’t know if we’ve ever had a tougher out-of-league schedule.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us. These guys have got some buy-in to them and they’re tough, but we’ve got to play every night, and that’s not easy to do sometimes. Right now, I just hope they can beat Fenwick.”

The Cougars return three of their top five scorers, though they lost Nos. 1 and 2 (Eddie Driskell and Drew Reckart) to graduation.

Senior guard Garrett Gabbard (6-3) averaged 8.1 points per game last year, while senior center Ethan McCarty (6-4) and senior guard Austin Scott (6-2) chipped in 6.8 and 4.6, respectively.

Gabbard and McCarty are returning starters, and Scott and senior forward Jake Paulsen (6-3) both played in every game last season. Senior point guard Tyrevis Hill (5-10) is the only other returnee who saw action in double-digit varsity contests in 2016-17.

“We may be the type of team where we see different starting lineups based on situations,” Thomas said. “We’ve got some decent quickness and some kids that can shoot the ball, but the best thing I can say is they’ve got some toughness about them. That’s probably the best way to characterize them.”

Senior guard Trent Allen (6-2), junior forward Evan Brown (6-3) and senior guard Isaac Haskell (5-10) all bring a little varsity experience to the table.

Junior Isaiah Gambrell (6-6) and senior Dylan Richards (6-2) are competing in the post, with Gambrell recovering from an ankle injury heading into the start of the season. Junior Gabe Allen (6-1) is a backup point guard.

Thomas said Edgewood will put up more than a few 3-pointers. He said Scott, Gabbard, Trent Allen and Hill are the top long-range shooters.

“We’ve still got some habits that we’ve got to break,” Thomas said. “Defensively, we have some breakdowns from time to time. Offensively, we can get impatient. There’s a way to be quick, but not in a hurry. We need to distinguish that a little bit better.”

Asked if the Cougars are better suited for up-tempo play or a more deliberate style, Thomas replied, “I think at times we do both pretty well, and at times we don’t do either very well. Whatever we can dictate, whatever’s best for that night is what we want to be.”

He said three-time defending champion Northwest is clearly the team to beat in the SWOC. The Knights will host Edgewood on Dec. 8.

“I think you’re probably going to see better balance throughout the league than you have in the past, but Northwest is still the king of the hill until somebody beats them,” Thomas said.

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