Badin basketball, coming off best season in 21 years, continuing football team’s success

The Badin High School boys basketball team enjoyed its highest win total in more than two decades last year, but the Rams are hoping to build off that with a league title and deep run in the tournament this season.

Friday’s game at Alter could go a long way in setting them up to achieve those goals.

Badin finished 17-7 last year for its most wins since 1997-98, but the team is off to a 9-2 start this season and sits in a three-way tie for first in the Greater Catholic League Co-Ed Division. The Rams are 4-1 in league play along with Alter (8-1) and McNicholas (9-2), who they face next on Tuesday.

“This will be a big game,” Badin coach Gerry Weisgerber said. “Alter was the preseason favorite to win the league, and the early season is showing they deserve that. They have a lot of size, a lot of length and they play an excellent match-up zone that gives people fits. It’s a big test to show where we stand. We’ve had a good start the first half of the season and now the strength of the schedule takes over.”

The Rams last won a league title in 2007-08 when they finished 14-10 overall and 7-7 in GCL play back when teams were required to play crossover games with the GCL South teams. They were 0-4 against Moeller, Elder, LaSalle and St. Xavier but 7-3 against the rest of the GCL and that was good enough to win the Central division title of the Co-Ed league.

This year, the GCLC is combined into one division. Purcell Marian (Central) and Chaminade Julienne (North) were the champions last year. Alter’s last North title came in 2016-17.

“Our goals are to compete for a league title and compete for a district title, and that’s what we are working on,” Weisgerber said. “Looking at the big picture, it’s getting ready for tournament time and to get to that level we have to get through the league because that’s what gets us ready for the tournament. If we can compete in the league, it’s a good sign.”

Weisgerber has been pleased with how Badin has opened the season, especially considering how long it took in the preseason to get the football players back following the Rams’ 9-4 finish on the gridiron. He knew he had a strong squad returning with five seniors all bringing significant varsity experience and some quality underclassmen ready to step up into bigger roles.

The seniors include 6-foot-5 forward Zach Switzer, 6-3 forward Spencer Giesting and guards Donovan Watkins, Alex DeLong and Josh Hegemann. Hegemann leads the team with 12.4 points per game, while Switzer adds 10.5, Watkins averages 8.6 and Giesting chips in 8.5 points.

Junior Andrew Larkin has blossomed into a key contributor as well, adding 9.0 points per game.

“We’re a little better than I thought, but I thought we could have a good first half even with the length of the football season,” Weisgerber said. “Depth is probably our strength because we have a number of players that can score for us and defend, so we’re not relying on one or two people to carry the load.”

The offensive output has been greatly improved from last season when now graduated Justin Pappas was the only player scoring in double figures, averaging 12.3 points per game. Switzer was the second leading scorer at 8.3 points per game, and Hegemann was only averaging 3.8 points.

Hegemann said this year’s group has even better chemistry and last year’s seniors set them up for success by establishing high expectations.

“It’s a tight-knit group,” Hegemann said. “We play well together, and it doesn’t matter who’s scoring the most, so long as we get the job done. Everyone supports each other, and we have a lot of guys who could score 20 points on any given night.”

That has helped Badin bounce back from both of its losses. The Rams dropped a 67-56 loss to Purcell Marian on Dec. 10 and responded with a 66-55 victory over Fenwick the next game. Then, they followed Saturday’s two-point loss to Edgewood with a 67-59 win over Roger Bacon on Tuesday.

Both Edgewood and Roger Bacon play a zone defense, and although Alter’s is run differently, Badin now enters this matchup feeling more comfortable against that type of coverage. Normally, the Rams face a lot of man defense.

“We’ve responded well, but especially with the Roger Bacon game we were able to find a rhythm and get back on the right track for this game against Alter,” Hegemann said. “It’s a big game that could set the tone for who’s in the run for the league title. Alter is one of the top teams, so it could be a good momentum builder for the rest of the season.”

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