Blackbirds need to replace production from last year

By Max Householder - [email protected]

The 2019-20 Pettisville boys basketball team.

The 2019-20 Pettisville boys basketball team.

Photo submitted

The Pettisville boys basketball team hopes there isn’t much dropoff from last year despite losing a total of seven letter winners, four of which received postseason honors a season ago.

Gone for the Blackbirds are three of their top four scorers from last year in Detric Yoder (12.2 points per game, 6.3 assists), Sam Rychener (11 points per game, 7.6 rebounds), and Logan Rufenacht (9.1 points per game). Yoder was first team All-Buckeye Border Conference, first team All-District 7 and third team All-Northwest District; Rychener honorable mention All-BBC and in District 7; and Rufenacht honorable mention All-BBC and District 7.

They also lose Canidate Vickery, who was honorable mention District 7 after averaging 5.7 points and 4.2 rebounds per game during his senior season, plus Eli Grieser, Austin Horning and Caleb Keim.

The Birds do return a top player in senior Graeme Jacoby. He averaged 11.3 points per game and 6.9 rebounds as a junior, all while being named first team All-BBC, second team District 7 and honorable mention All-Northwest District.

Their other returning letter winner is Mitchell Avina (4.4 points per game, 1.2 assists).

“Even with only two returning letter winners from last season, our new group of players have been very coachable,” said fourth-year coach Brian Leppelmeier. “Throughout the preseason, the returners have been good leaders as we progress with this new team.”

Newcomers added to the roster include Max Leppelmeier, Josh Horning, Isaac Reynolds, Cayden Jacoby, Jaton Zuver, Payne Reiniche, Jake King and Dominic Heising.

The coaching staff hopes this group can fill the void lost by departed letter winners from last year.

“We graduated a solid group of seniors that were responsible for over 60 percent of our offense,” explained coach Leppelmeier. “Of the seven seniors lost to graduation, four of them were starters led by our leading scorer and area assist leader Detric Yoder. Our challenge to begin this season for our newcomers to the varsity level is learning and accepting the new roles for this team.”

Last year Pettisville posted an 18-7 record and was 11-1 in the BBC to claim a league title. However, with a less experienced roster in 2019-20, matching that success could be difficult.

“The BBC will be balanced and competitive this year,” said Leppelmeier.

Pettisville hosts Montpelier this Friday in league play to begin the season.

The 2019-20 Pettisville boys basketball team. 2019-20 Pettisville boys basketball team. Photo submitted

By Max Householder

[email protected]

Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010

Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010