Prep boys basketball: Monroe optimistic about moving forward this year

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Prep boys basketball: Monroe optimistic about moving forward this year

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Monroe forward Tristan Backas (23) drives between two Fenwick defenders during a game in Middletown on Jan. 17, 2017. GREG LYNCH/STAFF

Kenny Molz is ready to kick the training wheels off.

The Monroe High School boys basketball coach believes his players are also ready to take the lessons learned in 2016-17 and ride on their own toward a more competitive 2017-18.

“We went through some growing pains last year with no varsity experience,” Molz said. “ We grew and improved as the season progressed, reaching .500 late in the season.

BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

“Although we stumbled towards the end, the returning players learned a great deal and used the lessons learned as motivation for the summer and preseason. The bar is set high this year.”

Monroe dropped its final five games last year to finish 9-14 overall and fifth in the Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division at 4-8.

The big plus for the Hornets is that not much was lost in graduation.

Tristan Backas, a 6-foot-4 senior forward, returns after averaging 16.5 points and 9.9 rebounds a game last season as a first-team All-SWBL player.

“He is going to be a three-year varsity player,” Molz said. “We really expect a lot out of him.”

Junior guard Nick Osterman (6-0) is back after averaging 5.9 points, while 6-2 junior center Matt DeHart also returns after averaging 4.3.

“Nick will be playing multiple roles this year with his versatility,” Molz said. “Matt has grown into a better scorer and continues to grow as a player.”

The returnees will be bolstered by first-year varsity player Shawn Poindexter, a 5-10 junior guard.

The 5-10 junior is expected to handle the point for the Hornets. Junior guard Tyler Hendricks (5-10), sophomore guard Sam Jeffers (6-3), and freshman guards Marty Zumbiel (5-10) and Will DeBord (5-10) will also work into the rotation.

BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

“We have made tremendous progress in the offseason,” Molz said. “These guys put in a lot of time and commitment, helping their chances for more success individually and collectively.”

Molz is hoping the progress parlays into a run at the division title.

“We hope to contend for a league title and be a lot more physical this year,” Molz said. “We have to be more consistent with our play and mental toughness for this to happen. Every year, it seems the league race is always tight and isn’t decided until the last week of the regular season.”

Monroe opens the season Dec. 1 against visiting Oakwood.

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