NEW MIAMI — New Miami High School’s boys basketball team took a step forward last season.
Jared Lee said it was nice, but the movement simply can’t stop there.
“A winning record, that’s Goal 1, but you don’t want to limit yourself to that,” said Lee, starting his second year as the Vikings’ head coach. “We’re looking to raise the bar a little bit this year. We like what we have, and we’re looking to get back after it.”
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New Miami was only 7-16 last season, and while that may not seem like a great thing, it was the program’s first seven-win campaign since 2007-08. The last winning record came in 2002-03.
The Vikings also won two Miami Valley Conference Gray Division games last year. In the previous nine seasons of MVC play, they were 1-113 — and the win was a forfeit.
New Miami finished 2017-18 with no seniors, so its entire starting lineup is back and ready to make some noise this year.
“I would say a winning record is a legitimate goal,” Lee said. “We’ve got a bunch of guys that can put it in the hole. I like that we don’t have to rely on one guy. So far, they’ve been incredibly unselfish. It’s what I’ve probably been the most proud of.”
The five returning starters are 6-foot senior forward Ronnie Bowman, 6-3 senior forward Nate Hobbs, 5-9 sophomore guard Jordan Robinette, 5-8 sophomore guard Trey Robinette and 5-7 sophomore guard Deanza Duncan.
Duncan (15.9), Trey Robinette (12.2) and Jordan Robinette (12.1) were double-figure scorers last year, while Bowman averaged 9 points and an MVC-leading 11.3 rebounds per game.
The Vikings put up 58.9 points a contest while giving up an average of 64.7.
“They’re probably tired of hearing me say it, but we were last in the league by a wide margin in points allowed per game,” Lee said. “It doesn’t take a very intelligent person to figure out if you can knock a few points off that and score at the rate we did last year, things are going to improve.”
New Miami has plenty of quickness and wants to push the pace offensively. Lee said the Vikings will pick their spots to use full-court pressure because they’re not terribly deep.
“If you play at the pace we do, you’re going to give up some points,” Lee said. “Last year, we just gave up too many easy baskets. You can’t be content with just giving up layups. Part of that was we started three freshmen last year and by Christmas we didn’t have a senior in the program, so there was inexperience. They were not used to playing the defense that we were playing. Now they’ve had a year to get used to me and Coach (Kevin) Lakes and Coach (Thomas) Roberts.”
Lee said the 3-pointer could be a significant part of the Vikings’ offense, with Duncan and Trey Robinette as the top long-range shooters.
With the team’s quickness and driving ability, though, Lee wants the first option to be attacking the basket.
“When we throw out there 1 through 5, we should be able to score the basketball,” he said. “We’re not really hiding anybody out there on the offensive side.”
Lee is looking for contributions from 6-1 senior guard David Cunningham and 5-11 senior guard-forward Gage Retherford, both transfers from Hamilton. Cunningham played in five games at the end of last season.
“We kind of got to dip our toes in the water with what David could do last year because he started so late. We’re excited to have a full year with him,” Lee said. “We’re looking for David and Gage to really help us out on the defensive end of the floor. They’re both strong, athletic kids. We’re looking to build some depth, and Gage really brings a toughness out there. Anything he can give us offensively is an added bonus.”
Jaron Phillips, a 6-0 junior forward, and 6-0 sophomore forward Brandon Ciavarella could also be helpful for New Miami, which opens the season at Oyler on Nov. 30.
Jordan Robinette likely will start the year as the point guard, though Lee said Trey Robinette and Duncan will also see some time in that role.
Who’s the leader of this team?
“Without trying to call anybody out, we really don’t have one right now,” Lee said. “We really need somebody to step up and take that leadership role.”
New Miami Vikings
Coach: Jared Lee (second season)
2017-18 Record: 7-16 overall, 2-14 MVC Gray (sixth place)
OHSAA Classification: Division IV
Schedule: Nov. 30 — at Oyler, 7 p.m.; Dec. 4 — St. Bernard, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 7 — at Lockland, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 — Seven Hills, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 14 — Cincinnati Christian, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 19 — at Cincinnati College Prep Academy, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 21 — at Cincinnati Country Day, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 28 — Hillcrest, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 4 — School for the Creative & Performing Arts, 6 p.m.; Jan. 8 — at Summit Country Day, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 11 — Clark Montessori, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 12 — Cincinnati College Prep Academy, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 15 — Norwood, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 18 — at Miami Valley Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 22 — North College Hill, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 25 — Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 26 — at Taylor, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 29 — Lockland, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 1 — at St. Bernard, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 5 — at Cincinnati Christian, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 8 — at Seven Hills, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 15 — Cincinnati Country Day, 7:30 p.m.