SWBL SOUTHWESTERN BASKETBALL: Franklin, Brookville share preseason No. 1

The Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division is a tossup on paper, but somebody’s going to have the upper hand on the court very soon.

The Franklin and Brookville prep boys basketball teams tied for first in the Southwestern Division preseason coaches poll. Four first-place votes went to Brookville and three went to Franklin, which has won or shared the last seven Southwestern championships.

And wouldn’t you know it … they open the season against each other Friday night at Brookville.

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“I’d have to say Brookville has the most returning experience,” Wildcats coach Brian Bales said. “But I’m not going to take anything away from our group. This is where you want your program to be. Everywhere we go, we’re going to be someone’s big game or biggest game of the year in their gym.”

Bellbrook was third, Oakwood fourth, Monroe fifth, Valley View sixth and Eaton seventh in the voting. The only new head coach is Valley View’s Butch Stidham, though Denny Shepherd is making a return at Eaton after taking the last three years off.

Franklin will continue to push the ball and launch lots of 3-pointers, returning junior guard Zack Minton and senior post Brayden Hall. They combined for 18.6 points per game last season.

Brookville returns its top two scorers in senior point guard Jacob Gudorf (11.6) and senior guard Wade Turner (14.4). Turner is the leading returning scorer in the division.

THE PRESEASON POLL

Here’s how the coaches voted in the preseason Southwestern Buckeye League Southwestern Division boys basketball poll, with point totals and first-place votes (in parentheses):

1. Brookville (4) 44

1. Franklin (3) 44

3. Bellbrook 34

4. Oakwood 26

5. Monroe 22

6. Valley View 16

7. Eaton 10

A LOOK AT THE TEAMS

Here’s a team-by-team preseason look at the SWBL Southwestern teams, with information provided by the coaches:

1. BROOKVILLE BLUE DEVILS

Coach: Jeff Davidson (13th season)

2017-18 Record: 15-9 overall, 8-4 SWBL Southwestern (third place)

Returning Starters: Jacob Gudorf (6-2 senior point guard), Wade Turner (5-9 senior guard), Weston Turner (6-4 senior center)

Top Newcomers: Daniel Dominique (6-2 sophomore forward), A.J. Eller (5-10 sophomore guard), Manny Willis (6-4 junior center)

Team Strength: Experienced core group returning with some young players eager to contribute

Area Of Concern: Consistency

1. FRANKLIN WILDCATS

Coach: Brian Bales (12th season)

2017-18 Record: 17-6 overall, 10-2 SWBL Southwestern (first place, tied)

Returning Starters: Brayden Hall (6-3 senior post), Zack Minton (6-0 junior guard)

Top Newcomers: Kamry Fuller (5-6 junior point guard), Savon O'Neal (5-6 junior point guard)

Team Strengths: Quickness, defense

Area Of Concern: Lack of varsity experience

3. BELLBROOK GOLDEN EAGLES

Coach: Donnie Tate (third season)

2017-18 Record: 14-10 overall, 10-2 SWBL Southwestern (first place, tied)

Returning Starters: Braeden Gedeon (6-2 junior forward), Hayden Greene (6-2 senior guard), Caleb Scott (6-2 senior point guard)

Top Newcomers: Ryan Chew (5-9 freshman guard), Evan Lakins (5-9 junior guard), Eric Wick (6-4 junior forward)

Team Strengths: Good mix of returning starters (Greene and Scott will be three-year starters), defense

Areas Of Concern: Loss of top scorer and defender to graduation

4. OAKWOOD LUMBERJACKS

Coach: Paul Stone (18th season)

2017-18 Record: 12-11 overall, 6-6 SWBL Southwestern (fourth place)

Returning Starters: Darren Rubin (6-0 junior guard), Jake Sargent (5-11 senior guard)

Top Newcomers: Jack Armstrong (6-1 senior forward), Jimmy Galvin (6-2 senior forward), Daniel Hu (6-1 junior guard)

Team Strengths: Quickness, 3-point shooting

Areas Of Concern: Lack of size, depth

5. MONROE HORNETS

Coach: Kenny Molz (fourth season)

2017-18 Record: 5-18 overall, 3-9 SWBL Southwestern (sixth place)

Returning Varsity Players: Will DeBord (5-11 sophomore wing), Nick Osterman (6-2 senior post/wing), Shawn Poindexter (5-11 senior point guard), Caimanne Turner (6-4 junior post)

Top Newcomers: Nick Alfrey (6-0 junior wing), Bobby Borneman (6-5 junior post), Collin Deaton (6-1 sophomore post/wing), Tanner Perkins (6-3 senior wing)

Team Strengths: Mix of experience and coachable young men

Areas Of Concern: Responding to adversity, finishing games

6. VALLEY VIEW SPARTANS

Coach: Butch Stidham (first season)

2017-18 Record: 9-14 overall, 5-7 SWBL Southwestern (fifth place)

Returning Starters: Gio Geiger (5-11 senior guard), Cade Cradlebaugh (6-2 junior forward)

Top Newcomers: Max Shuey (6-0 senior forward), Ryan Thompson (6-4 senior forward)

Team Strengths: Speed, quickness

Area Of Concern: Lack of varsity experience

7. EATON EAGLES

Coach: Denny Shepherd (seventh season)

2017-18 Record: 1-22 overall, 0-12 SWBL Southwestern (seventh place)

Returning Starters: Owen Baumann (6-0 senior forward), Hunter Frost (6-2 junior guard), James Howard (5-8 senior guard), Isaac Manning (5-7 senior guard)

Top Newcomers: Dylan Jackson (6-1 junior forward), Travis Pittman (5-9 sophomore guard)

Team Strengths: Quickness, 3-point shooting

Area Of Concern: Lack of size

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