The boys’ basketball season is officially underway and, based on the atmospheres at several local gymnasiums, local hoops fans are ready for what appears to be a special 2019-20 season. The preseason Associated Press poll released Wednesday has Jeffersonville at No. 8 in Class 4A and Silver Creek at No. 1 in Class 3A.
Defending state champion Silver Creek opened up at home against Columbus East on Wednesday night. No surprise in that game. We already knew Trey Kaufman and the Dragons were poised for a huge season. but several big matchups took place Tuesday night.
Following are three things we learned from those opening night games.
1. T.J. Proctor may be one of the area’s most underrated players.
Proctor not only had 16 points in Christian Academy’s 37-36 loss to Floyd Central but he helped slow down Jake Heidbreder as the Warriors held the Highlanders’ lead guard to six points after the first quarter.
Proctor also put his playmaking ability on display, setting up Ethan Carrier with a 3-pointer off a drive and kick during a back-and-forth second half. Proctor and Bailey Conrad scored all 11 Christian Academy points in the second quarter as the Warriors climbed within 19-16 by the break.
“I feel like T.J. Proctor’s a hard matchup for anybody. He did that all year for us last year,” coach Steve Kerberg said.
As good as 6-foot-6 forward Bailey Conrad is, Proctor will be just as important if Christian Academy is going to be a legit Class A state title contender.
2. Several freshmen are going to make an impact.
New Washington’s Matthew Arthur had 14 points in his varsity debut to help the Mustangs top rival Charlestown.
Rock Creek’s Ladarius Wallace had 11 points in his first varsity start as the Lions nearly rallied to knock off Henryville.
“He’s going to be special,” Rock Creek coach Chris Brown said. “His, and our, best basketball, I think, are ahead of us.”
Floyd Central’s Caleb Washington hit an early 3-pointer in the corner and scored in the paint as the Highlanders put together a strong first quarter. He was also a factor on the glass, keeping the ball alive after a missed shot for the Highlanders to get the go-ahead bucket in the final minute.
Washington finished with eight points but may only be scratching the surface of what he might be this season offensively. Just as important, Coach Todd Sturgeon complimented his play at the defensive end.
“I thought it was really good. He got rebounds for us. He made a couple shots early and then defensively, we switch and guys have to guard a lot of different people. When other people run plays and you’re in a different spot. When you’re a a freshman, that’s pretty demanding. He was out there guarding Proctor on the point some and Conrad some in the post. I thought, for a freshman, competed pretty well,” Sturgeon said.
Borden freshman guard Tommy Devine had seven points in his first varsity action.
3. Three Southern Athletic Conference teams won on the same night, highlighting what could be a strong year for those Clark County teams
Henryville, New Washington and Borden all picked up wins and hope to bounce back from losing seasons.
Henryville’s victory against Rock Creek was only its third season-opening victory since 2000, which corresponds when the Hornets began playing season-opening games against Silver Creek.
Coach Jared Hill projected a big season for junior Westin Allen in the preseason and Allen got the year off to a strong start with 16 points.
Hill praised Austin Contreras for the guard’s play in crunch time. Contreras made a steal and basket after driving the length of the court to seal the contest with 14.4 seconds remaining.
“Last year, he kind of got thrown to the wolves, but he learned a lot, and he played great,” Hill said. “That play he made at the end of the game, that was a big-boy play. He was huge.”
Borden, meanwhile, beat Eastern for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
“It was a good home opener for us,” Borden coach Doc Nash said. “We played really hard, I’m proud of all our kid’s efforts. We need to clean up the mental side of things but we played with a lot of heart and desire. It was a lot of fun to watch and be a part of.”
New Washington’s victory included four players reaching double figures, led by AJ Walter’s 17 and Jesus Diaz’s 15.
“I’m pretty proud of the way we played in the first game,” May added. “Defensively I wasn’t too happy with, there was probably five or 10 possessions where I thought we really broke down, and I thought there was a stretch there in the third quarter where we let fatigue dictate how we were playing. And some of the turnovers there at the end, we’ve got to clean those up. But that’s getting pretty picky there. I’m pretty proud of their effort and the way they played together.”
Reporter Josh Cook and correspondent Jon Reiter contributed to this report.