Though it may be difficult in a fairly even Buckeye Border Conference this season, the Pettisville boys basketball team will look to repeat as league champions in 2020-21.
The Blackbirds had a very successful campaign a season ago, posting a 15-9 overall mark that included a 12-0 record versus BBC opponents. They have a trio of letter winners returning from that team.
Back are Max Leppelmeier (second team All-BBC/District 7), Josh Horning (honorable mention All-BBC) and Cayden Jacoby.
Leppelmeier averaged 9.7 points per game last season, Horning 2.4 ppg, and Cayden Jacoby 5.2 ppg.
“Even with only three returning letter winners from last season, our new group of players have been coachable during the preseason. Throughout the preseason, the returners have been good leaders as we progress with this new team,” said fifth-year head coach Brian Leppelmeier.
Newcomers the Birds will be adding including seniors Jake King and Dominic Heising; juniors Zakkai Kaufmann, Anthony Smith, Gideon Myers, Josh Basselman and Nate Rupp; sophomores Jaret Beck and Sean Adkins; and freshman Joey Ripke.
However, they will have to replace one of the best players in the area from a season ago, Graeme Jacoby (17 ppg, 9.1 rebounds per game). He was selected the BBC Player of the Year, first team both in District 7 and the Northwest District, and special mention All-Ohio.
Also gone for the Birds is Mitchell Avina (8.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg), who was honorable mention All-BBC and in District 7. Other departed letter winners are Isaac Reynolds, Jaton Zuver and Payne Reiniche.
“We graduated a solid group of seniors that were responsible for over 50% of our offense,” said coach Leppelmeier on the challenges his team faces this year. “Of the five seniors lost to graduation, two of them were starters. Graeme Jacoby, leading scorer, 1,000 point club, and leading rebounder, and Mitchell Avina, assist leader and third leading scorer. Our challenge to begin this season for our newcomers to the varsity level is learning and accepting the new roles for this team. We are going to lean on the experience and leadership of our three returning starters of Max Leppelmeier, Josh Horning, and Cayden Jacoby.”
The Birds look to remain atop the BBC, but it will likely be a tougher task this season as opposed to last.
“The BBC will be balanced and very competitive this year,” said the Blackbird head coach.
Pettisville begins the season at Hilltop on Friday, Nov. 27, with their home opener to be played the following night versus Delta.
Reach Max Householder at 419-335-2010