By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
For Indiana high school basketball fans, it’s time to ascend into that depressing part of the year called spring, summer and fall.
At least we have Indiana and Louisville looking at making Final 4 runs and the Pacers in the NBA playoffs to tide us over a bit.
For now, all high school fans have is the prospect of next year — a new beginning filled only with hope.
Of course, the No. 1 question will be, can Borden repeat as champions?
Here’s a look at what you can expect from your team in the 2013-14 boys’ basketball season:
So can Borden repeat?
As sectional champions, yes. As state champions, it’s very unlikely.
Gone are Jalen McCoy, Michael Lynch, Billy Kirchgessner and Cody Bachman — four two-year starters.
Back is Garrett Vick, who will probably be expected to take a Brandon Beam-type leadership role from the 2011-12 season.
The cupboard isn’t bare. Josh Ruedinger and Josh Vollstedt both did a nice job when called upon this year and in the tournament. Vollstedt hit one of the biggest shots in the fourth quarter in Saturday’s victory and Ruedinger — along with fellow-senior-to-be Zach Gillam — gives Borden more size than it has had in a few years.
With Lanesville, South Central Christian Academy all experiencing similar turnover as the Braves, it appears to be a wide-open sectional field.
Rock Creek leads the way in returning experience and athleticism. If sophomores Will Brown, Ronald Karenzi and Gedeon Nzombi continue to improve their skill level, the Lions may become the team to beat. Tanner Gerth, Devin Burt also return along with several young, athletic Lions.
New Washington also loses an awful lot at the top of its roster. Devin Herron, Logan Miles and James Clemons will be expected to lead an inexperienced Mustang squad.
While it would be a mistake to count out a Lou Lefevre-coached team, Clarksville has to be the favorite in Class 2A, at least as far as local teams go.
Aidan McEwen and Austin Johnson will certainly be missed, but Andrew Jones and Calvin McEwen have turned into bona fide stars in Clarksville. If Jason Connell can find some young players to go around them, the Generals should be back in the regional next season.
Crawford County and Paoli both have a lot coming back as well, and could push Clarksville for the title along with Providence.
Eastern is strong in some of its younger classes but will probably be a year away from contending.
Henryville loses three starters from a winless team. Four freshmen and sophomores saw significant time for the Hornets in their first year under Dan Carmony, so eventually things should turn around in Henryville.
Corydon, with 6-foot-8 junior-to-be Bronson Kessinger, and defending champion Brownstown Central are the heavy favorites again in 2013-14.
However, Silver Creek may slip into that conversation.
The Dragons won seven of their last nine games and return a large portion of their production. Junior Shae Durham and sophomores Gabe Bauer and Jake Steele lead a group of six Silver Creek underclassmen with a significant amount of varsity experience.
North Harrison is in a similar situation as Silver Creek. The Cougars had their best season in years and return most of their talent.
Silver Creek and North Harrison are expected to be among the top teams in Southern Indiana next year. Whether its on the same level as Corydon or Brownstown yet will be the question.
Charlestown has some young talent coming, but the Pirates will have to endure the loss of Chris Braun and Aaron Daniel. That — along with missing Justin Conrad and Wesley Sexton — will mean a rebuilding year in Charlestown.
It will be interesting to see how Drew Ellis, Keenan Williams and Myles Harvey respond to increased roles in 2013-14, but there’s little doubt that the Red Devils are the favorites to win their third consecutive sectional crown.
But New Albany may have something to say about that. The Bulldogs will certainly miss Jermaine Parrish at the point, but Leondre McBirth, Jeff Byrne and Chad Hudson are a talented trio. They could be a sleeper.
Bedford North Lawrence endured one of its worst seasons in the past few years, but the Stars return nearly everyone and have a strong sophomore class. They could be the darkhorse.
In the end, there will be a ton of contenders, but no one should be surprised if its Jeff, Borden, Clarksville and Brownstown playing for regional championships again in 2013-14.