The Bellwood-Antis boys basketball team had a fair amount of success last season, finishing with a 17-5 record in the regular season before being knocked off by Central Cambria in district playoffs.
The Blue Devils lost seven seniors from last year’s team, but also have three starters returning for the 2018-19 campaign.
The three returning starters should provide the leadership for the Blue Devils this season, but head coach Kevin Conlon will also be dealing with an otherwise young roster this year.
“We’ve had our ups and downs in the preseason,” said Conlon. “We lost our top three scorers from last year so we have a lot of talent to replace and a lot of new guys vying for spots. We have a lot of younger players on the roster as eight of our 14 players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores, so that can make practice challenging.
“But the kids are working hard and showing improvement daily.”
The returning starters are all seniors in Nathan Wolfe, T.J. Wyland, and Mason Yingling.
Out of those three starters, Wolfe averaged the most points with 7.6 ppg, while Yingling was just a step behind Wolfe at 7.0 ppg. Wyland put in 3.7 ppg, but he was the Blue Devils’ leading rebounder.
Conlon will also have a little bit more experience returning with senior Alex Frederick and junior Troy Walker getting more than just a few valuable minutes.
Still, Conlon will not decide until a day or two before the game as to who is starting for the opener.
“We have an idea of the five we will most likely go with, but the kids are still competing for spots as of now,” said Conlon.
One of the team’s strengths will be their size with nine of the 15 players listed at 6-0 or taller. Wyland, a 6-1 post player, and Wolfe, a 6-5 forward, will help with having much experience near the basket.
However, Conlon said a concern is their lack of consistency in scoring the basketball.
“Consistent scoring will be a challenge all season,” he said. “We need players to put the ball in the basket with more consistency.”
And although the Blue Devils are relatively young this year, that doesn’t mean that Conlon still has a few goals in mind for the season.
“Our goals are to compete for the ICC title and to improve as the season goes along,” Conlon said. “I want the kids to have fun and enjoy the season and make sure we are always improving.”
Wigfield will be assisted by Michael Wigfield.
Bellwood-Antis gets the season under way this evening on the road in the Backyard Brawl at Tyrone.
Seniors: Alex Frederick, C.J. Moss, Nathan Wolfe, T.J. Wyland, Mason Yingling. Juniors: Troy Walker. Sophomores: Dalton Davis, Zach Mallon, Zach Miller, Evan Morris, Trenton Pellegrino. Freshmen: Connor Gibbons, Jack Luensmann, Sean Mallon, Zach Pellegrine.
12/7 at Tyrone
12/13 at Williamsburg
12/18 at West Branch
12/20 vs. Mount Union
12/27 at Kiwanis Tournament, TBA, at Tyrone High School
12/29 at Kiwanis Tournament, TBA, at Tyrone High School
1/4 vs. Glendale
1/7 at Juniata Valley
1/9 vs. Southern Fulton
1/11 at Moshannon Valley
1/14 vs. Claysburg-Kimmel
1/16 at Everett
1/18 vs. Williamsburg
1/21 vs. Penns Valley
1/23 vs. West Branch
1/25 at Mount Union
1/29 at Glendale
2/1 vs. Juniata Valley
2/4 vs. Central
2/6 vs. Moshannon Valley
2/8 at Claysburg-Kimmel
2/12 vs. Tussey Mountain
All games start at 7:30 p.m. unless noted.