Last season was an up and down one for Southmont boys basketball. An 11-10 season and a loss in the sectional to eventual state-runner up Parke Heritage saw the Mounties season come to an abrupt end.
This year with once again an upperclassmen led squad and Southmont will look to capitalize off of its potential.
The Mounties bring back three key starters in seniors Avery Saunders and Logan Oppy to go along with Junior Carson Chadd. Saunders averaged 14.3 points and 7.4 rebounds for Southmont a season ago while Oppy averaged 12 and Chadd 11 points and 6.5 rebounds.
In a season that was thrown into flux a year ago, the Mounties were one of just a few teams to play every single one of their scheduled games. This season Southmont will welcome back their fans and fifth year coach Jake Turner is looking forward to a more sense of normalcy this season.
“Last year we were fortunate to not be bothered much with quarantines or missing any games,” he said. “There was definitely a different feel last year with limited fans, pep blocks etc. It’ll be nice to get back to those environments again that we’re used to with Indiana Basketball.”
On the court to go along with the lineup of Saunders, Chadd, and Oppy, Southmont will send senior E.J. Brewer into the starting lineup and also junior Kion Cornelius to round out the starting five.
“We have we feel like we have three all-conference level guys in Avery, Logan, and Carson,” Turner said. “E.J. is a guy that was our sixth man a season ago and is a great athlete whose looked great in the summer. Those four guys are going to be at the core of what we do and we’re going to rely on them a lot. Kion’s been doing a great job of what we’ve been asking of him and his defense and energy has been great.”
Last season Southmont’s offense could score with mostly any opponent on their schedule, the issue was on the defensive side of the ball where the Mounties gave up 56 points per game to their opponent.
“If we’re going to be reaching our true potential, then we have to embrace that side of the ball,” Turner said. “Defense travels and gets you through your bad shooting nights so we have to be more disciplined in boxing out and not fouling. We should have a pretty long and athletic team and we’ll have to do a better job of rotating and helping one another out on the defensive end.”
The past few seasons both Saunders and Chadd have been able to go down low and score almost at will. Combine that with the shooting ability of Oppy and it made for a dangerous trio. However coming into this season Turner talked about how the trio is developing their overall game to become even better.
“Carson and Avery have really developed in terms of their jump shots,” Turner said. “Then you look at Logan who this summer really started to become a great scorer and not just a great shooter. He’ll attack the basket and getting fouled. Any of those three guys can lead us in scoring on any given night so scoring shouldn’t be an issue for us.”
Southmont opens up their season against North Putnam at home, a team that last season scored the most points of anyone on the Mounties schedule in an 84-58 loss for South.
Aaron Pickel (28 points) and Ellis Lyons (19 points) both had big games against Southmont a season ago and will be returning for the senior season for the Cougars.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us,” Turner said. “They’ve got some good experience coming back and do a good job on the offensive. The game last season against them was an eye opener for us and it was an opportunity for growth. I feel like we’re a different team than that game a year ago and if we can guard and run them off the three-point line we can beat them, but they can also beat us so it’ll come down to who executes better and who takes care of the basketball.”
Along with the season opener against the Cougars, the Mounties travel to Sheridan Saturday before an early-season county rivalry game at North Montgomery on Dec. 3.
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