HAMILTON — Gerry Weisgerber is looking for even more progression from his Badin High School boys basketball team this year.
The Rams snapped a string of three straight losing seasons with a 14-10 record last year, and he believes the 2018-19 squad is stocked with potential.
“I’m optimistic,” said Weisgerber, starting the third season of his second stint at the Rams helm. “The biggest thing with this group is they believe they can. Now we just have to put the work in to do it. I’m hoping the success of the football season carries over into basketball.”
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Weisgerber, who is bearing down on his 300th career win (he’s 295-166 in 20 seasons at Badin), has no returning starters from his 2017-18 unit.
Justin Pappas, a 6-foot-5 senior forward, was the Rams’ leading returning scorer last year, but missed the entire regular season because of a knee injury.
Pappas did come back and play briefly in the Division II sectional tournament, and Weisgerber said his knee is stronger than ever this year.
“We expect him to be our main person inside and out,” Weisgerber said.
Other returning players with measurable varsity experience are 6-5 junior forward Zach Switzer, 5-11 senior guard Nathan Hegemann, 6-1 senior forward Seth Hargis, 5-10 senior guard Joe Walsh and 6-3 junior forward Spencer Giesting.
Switzer is the top statistical returnee — he averaged 4.6 points and 2.4 rebounds per game last season. Walsh had three double-digit scoring games.
“You look at a guy like Hargis,” Weisgerber said. “He does a lot of stuff people just don’t see. He just goes after things. He gets a lot of rebounds that I don’t know how he’s doing it.”
Also in the mix are 5-7 senior guard Easton Scowden, 5-8 junior guard Donovan Watkins, 6-2 senior center John Berg, 5-11 junior guard Alex DeLong, 5-10 junior guard Josh Hegemann and 5-8 senior guard Ben Grawe. The only player in that group with any varsity experience is Berg, and he played in two games.
“We’ve got good chemistry on this team,” Weisgerber said. “We have multiple guys who can shoot the ball, so we don’t have to rely on one guy giving us points. I think we’ve got seven or eight guys that are capable of giving us 8-15 points a game. And our quickness is pretty good. I think we’re quicker than we’ve been. Our guards are solid all the way through.”
And the team’s biggest area of concern?
“Defensive rebounding,” Weisgerber said. “We have to do a better job on the boards. We do have two kids in the 6-5 range, but we’re not overly big. It comes down to making that effort and getting in the proper position to box people out.”
He said Badin will continue to focus on man-to-man defense.
“We’re capable of being a good defensive team,” Weisgerber said. “When we’re not trying to block shots or make steals and just trying to keep people in front of us and maintain the ball, we’re pretty good.”
The Rams’ nonleague schedule has been strengthened with the addition of Springboro, Elder and Columbus Watterson.
“Our schedule is probably harder than it has been, but that’s fine,” Weisgerber said. “That’s how it should be. We should be playing tough teams to get us ready for the way the (Greater Catholic League Coed Division) is going to be and the big picture of getting ready for the tournament.”
Coach: Gerry Weisgerber (21st season)
2017-18 Record: 14-10 overall, 4-6 GCLC Central (third place)
OHSAA Classification: Division II
Schedule: Nov. 30 — at Cincinnati Christian, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 4 — Elder, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 7 — at Alter, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 11 — Northwest, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 14 — Carroll, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 21 — at Purcell Marian, 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 28 — at Edgewood, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 2 — at Columbus Watterson, 6:30 p.m.; Jan. 4 — McNicholas, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 8 — Bellbrook, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 11 — Roger Bacon, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 12 — at Mariemont, 7 p.m.; Jan. 15 — at Talawanda, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 18 — at Fenwick, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 22 — Springboro, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 25 — Chaminade Julienne, 7:30 p.m.; Jan. 29 — at St. Xavier, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 1 — Purcell Marian, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 8 — at McNicholas, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 9 — at Ross, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 12 — Summit Country Day, 7:30 p.m.; Feb. 15 — at Roger Bacon, 7:30 p.m.