Mount Gilead returns three key members of last year’s 14-10 boys’ basketball team, but will have to find other contributions from a group of players without much varsity experience.
Head coach Tom Cooper, in his 12th season of being the team’s head coach, returns seniors Jason Bolha and Seth Young and junior Mason Mollohan. Mollohan averaged 12 points and 11 rebounds, while shooting 56 percent from the field on his way to earning accolades from the MOAC, Central District and District 11. He also led the MOAC in rebounding. Bolha tallied 7.2 points and 2.6 assists, while Young added 5.9 points, two rebounds and two assists and shot 46 percent from three-point range to be in the top 20 in Ohio.
However, MG graduated a lot of talent. Tyler Bland, Zack Hosack and Austin Vanderkooi all averaged double figures in scoring and finished with various awards. Also gone are Gavin Mills and Blake Ross.
“Over the last three years, Hosack, Bland and Vanderkooi were key players on teams that went 51-22,” said Cooper. “They won two sectional titles, an outright MOAC title, set the school record for wins as sophomores (21) and went 14-5 versus the Morrow County Schools. They did things the right way. They were good teammates and good students. They will be hard to replace.”
Cooper has a number of players he’s hoping can enter the mix and help the team continue to pick up wins, citing senior Tommy Beers; juniors Adam Linder, Nick Dyer, Brandon Stevens, Brad Landon and Micah Tuggle and sophomore Liam Dennis as newcomers.
“Our biggest strength is that we return three really skilled varsity basketball players at key positions,” said the coach. “Bolha, Young and Mollohan give us a well-rounded offensive attack. We will not be easy to zone or match-up against because we should be able to score in multiple ways. Our other strength is that we have a lot of young players that have really worked hard to improve their skills and their bodies. Our young players play extremely hard and are pretty good defensively.”
Cooper noted that his team should have a lot of speed, but added that, along with an overall lack of experience, they also are relatively undersized.
In the new KMAC, Cooper looks at Northmor as the favorite, while also listing Highland and Danville as contenders.
“Our goal is to keep improving and keep pushing our program in a positive direction,” he said. “We want to focus on being great teammates, playing efficient team defense and rebounding the basketball. We really need to improve defensively and on the boards. If we stay healthy, this should be a very enjoyable team to watch play. They will play hard and will play together.”