Two fast starts, one impressive finish and an 11-game winning streak were among the highlights supplied by Johnson County programs during the 2012-13 boys basketball season.
Unfortunately, the county failed to net a single sectional title for the first time since 2009.
The season featured a pair of first-year head coaches, Franklin’s Jerry Bomholt and Whiteland’s Matt Wadsworth. Standing alone at the opposite end of the tenure spectrum would be Greenwood’s Bruce Hensley in his 24th season leading his alma mater.
Among the more startling story lines came out of the county’s southern regions.
Edinburgh, which was supposed to be in rebuilding mode after graduating every one of its starters from last season’s 23-3 Class A semistate qualifier, apparently never received the memo.
Using players who for the most part were second-teamers a year ago, the Lancers jumped out to a 10-2 record to shock everyone with perhaps the exception of their coach.
“A lot of people kind of wrote us off,” third-year Edinburgh coach Drew Glentzer said. “We had role players back from the Final Four team who wanted to prove themselves, and I think they did that. They showed up for every game except one (a 76-60 home loss to eventual sectional champion Baptist Academy on Jan. 26), so I guess that’s what I was proudest of.
Led by guard Caleb Giles, the Lancers for a second consecutive year started five seniors. Glentzer hints this streak is about to come to an end, however, as next season’s sophomore group could take up as much as four-fifths of Edinburgh’s starting lineup.
Glentzer also called these Lancers the smartest team he’s coached. Four of his players carry a grade-point average of 4.0 or above.
Bomholt’s Grizzly Cubs opened the season with losses to Center Grove and Decatur Central before rattling off 11 consecutive wins. The ninth proved particularly sweet, with Franklin avenging the earlier loss to the Trojans in the title contest of the Johnson County Tournament.
Franklin will graduate three seniors, including point guard Keenan Wood. Don’t shed any tears. Starting forwards Tyler Thomas and Nick King will be back along with a host of other talented underclassmen, who will attempt to improve on a won-loss record (15-7) that was a marked improvement over last season’s 8-14.
Indian Creek’s 5-0 start eventually mushroomed into an 8-2 record. The Braves struggled closing out games the latter half of the season, finishing 10-11 after eight of their final nine losses came by eight points or less. Senior-to-be point guard Brett DeHart returns for what will be his third season in the starting lineup.
Center Grove, with a 10-13 record, recorded the Trojans’ first losing season since the 2008-09 team finished 8-13. The program’s difficult Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference schedule prepared it well for the postseason, coach Cliff Hawkins’ group making it to the final of the Center Grove Sectional before losing a 48-47 heartbreaker to Franklin Central.
The Trojans in the form of three starters return plenty of firepower for 2013-14 — swingman Tyler Bryant, forward Michael Benkert and point guard Ryan Pendygraft.
Whiteland finished 8-14. It is the 10th losing season in 11 years for the Warriors, who behind senior center Dejan Davis managed some exciting moments for their fans. Six-four forward John Hubler will be the lone starter returning for a program graduating seven seniors.
Greenwood Christian Academy lost seven of its first eight games but rebounded nicely to finish 10-11. The Cougars played regional-bound Baptist Academy three times, winning the first by eight points and dropping the final two by a combined seven points.
As for Hensley’s Woodmen, they started the season as poorly as a team could by going 0-9 with an average deficit of 22.2 points. But after defeating Indian Creek 66-53 in the county tourney, a confidence was installed that made Greenwood a completely different outfit down the stretch.
Winning seven of their final 11 games enabled the Woodmen to produce a 7-14 record. All but two of Greenwood’s players — seniors LaRon Patterson and Raddell Waddy — return next season, including top scorer Jaren Hornbeak.
“More than anything it was their attitude. It was like the light came on. I think they got tired of losing,” Hensley said, attempting to pinpoint the origins of his team’s 180-degree turnaround. “I would say this team from where we started from probably progressed more than any group I’ve ever had. I’m certainly excited about next year and hoping we can build on what we did this season.”