Shawnee’s Andrew Tincher (right) drives around Springfield’s John Carson Jr. (left) during the Wildcats’ 50-42 win over the Braves last Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 at Springfield High School Gymnasium. The Braves are undefeated in CBC Kenton Trail play. Staff Photo by Bryant Billing
SPRINGFIELD — The conference title race for the Central Buckeye Conference’s Kenton Trail Division is as clear as looking through a broken window during a snowstorm with twenty mile-an-hour winds at midnight. Good luck on seeing any more than your fragmented reflection in the broken glass.
Last modified on Tuesday, 20 December 2011 10:57
“There’s a lot of parity in our side of the CBC,” Shawnee head coach Chris McGuire said after the Braves’ 50-42 loss at Springfield last Saturday. “It’s anyone’s game. The entire picture of the race can change in the next series of conference games.”
Tecumseh and Shawnee both currently sit atop the standings with 2-0 and 1-0 records, respectively. Tecumseh (3-2) has defeated Tippecanoe (37-34) and Stebbins (51-36) in league games, while Shawnee (2-1) defeated Kenton Ridge 59-50 last Friday in its first conference game.
Bellefontaine (3-2), who won the Kenton Trail last season, is at third place with a 2-1 conference record. Tippecanoe (2-3) is fourth with a 1-1 record, while Stebbins (3-1, 0-1 CBC Kenton Trail) and Kenton Ridge (1-3, 0-2) are both winless.
Four of the six conference teams have winning overall records, and McGuire said that is indicative of the strength of the conference.
“I don’t think there’s a bad team in the (Kenton Trail),” McGuire said. “Some teams are ahead of others and have a bit more experience, but we’re all in similar situations.”
All teams in the Kenton Trail are replacing at least two starters from last season. Tecumseh, Kenton Ridge, and Shawnee are replacing at least three starters from a year ago.
“Everyone is replacing their leading scorer from last season,” Tecumseh head coach Roger Culbertson said after the Arrows’ 46-27 loss to Butler on Dec. 10. “There’s some experience back, but everyone is losing their biggest scorers, and that takes some time to replace.
Shawnee began just last week after delaying the start of its season two weeks due to the playoff run of Shawnee’s football team. McGuire said Shawnee’s game against Springfield last Saturday was like the team’s third scrimmage.
“They’re a strong team, but it’s hard to judge them since they’re starting late,” Culbertson said of Shawnee. “They have some good players and could be up there at the top.”
Culbertson said even Stebbins, who has been at the bottom of the league since 2007, could compete for the title. Stebbins’ Khaleal McCormick is currently ranks second in the league in scoring with 17.3 points per game.
Neither coach made any predictions as to who would come out on top, however.
“I think it’s going to boil down to what team gels the quickest and comes together to put a string of wins together,” McGuire said. “It will kind of start to sort itself out in January and February, but it’s going to come down to who can come together the quickest.”
McGuire said one of the biggest keys to winning the conference would be to win road games.
“You’re going to have to win some big games on the road,” McGuire said. “If you can steal two or three (conference) games on the road, and then hold strong at home, you’re going to be in good shape.”
Both coaches said they fell their respective teams can come out on top.
“We’ve got to improve on some things offensively,” Culbertson said. “If we can get our offense along and keep up our defense, I have a lot of confidence in our chances.”
McGuire said the Braves are “raw” at this moment, and that the biggest factor to their improvement would be to develop some of the younger players and get experienced players back into basketball shape.
“We’ve got to clean up a few things,” McGuire said. “We’re still getting back into basketball shape. I think we’ve been getting worn down. But our kids have played well through this week. I think we can bring some of the success we had in our fall sports over to this season.”