With varsity experience on their side, the Washington Blue Jays hope the 2012-13 boys basketball season is a breakout one.
Washington lost just two seniors and return most of their scoring from last season’s team that went 10-15 overall and 4-3 in the GAC North.
“This is my third year here and we have a lot of kids on the varsity team who have been with me the whole time,” said Washington Head Coach Chip Sodemann. “They know my terminology and they know what to expect. It’s made our practices very competitive.”
Washington is seeded fifth at the Borgia Turkey Tournament, opening against fourth-seeded Cardinal Ritter Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 7:30 p.m.
The Blue Jays have three full-time starters back this season and a total of five players who have started on the varsity level in the past.
The team’s top two scorers are back this season in senior 6-3 guard Luke Schroepfer (14.8 points and 4.6 rebounds per game) and junior 6-5 guard Ronnie Suggs (12.3 ppg).
“The biggest thing I expect from Luke and Ronnie this season is leadership. They both know what to expect in practice. They both know how to prepare for road games. I want them both to be leaders,” Sodemann said. “I also want them to make sure they get everyone on the floor involved. I want them to make plays not only for themselves, but for our other guys. That will take some of the load off of them.”
Also returning to the starting lineup is senior 6-4 forward Jared Walde, who averaged 5.9 points and 6.1 rebounds per contest last season.
“We know what we’re going to get from Jared,” Sodemann said. “He’s a great kid who always gives everything he has on the floor.”
Other varsity returners who have started in the past are senior 6-0 forward Luke Hasenjaeger (3.6 ppg) and junior 5-11 guard Brad Carpenter (8.4 ppg).
“We’re playing Luke out of position. He’s seeing time in practice on the inside. He’s a smart player who’s picking it up. Our inside players have been injury prone in the past, so we need a couple more bodies to learn those spots,” Sodemann said. “Brad has the ability to shoot the ball from long distance. When he’s open, we want him to take those three-point shots to help stretch the defense.”
Junior 6-5 center Dane Meyer and junior 5-11 guard Patrick Menke both have seen varsity playing time, but both were slowed by injuries last season.
Varsity newcomers are senior forward Trevor Lampkin, junior guards Cory Epperson and Christian Hardesty, junior forwards Austin Subke and Jacob Mulkey and sophomore guard Cole Schroepfer.
Sodemann said the Blue Jays don’t have a true point guard.
“We’ll have a point guard by committee. Any one of our guards can bring the ball up,” Sodemann said. “Instead of a traditional point guard, we’ll have three point guards at different times.”
In addition to their own tournament in January, the Blue Jays also will play in the Borgia Turkey Tournament to start the season and the Meramec Tournament during the holiday break.
Washington also plays in GAC-Suburban Shootout against Lafayette Dec. 15 at the St. Charles Family Arena, the Sullivan Shootout Dec. 22 against Lindbergh and the MFA Oil/Break Time Shootout at Mizzou Arena Jan. 27 against Rock Bridge.
Washington competes in the GAC Central, playing two games each against Ft. Zumwalt North, Ft. Zumwalt South and Holt.
“We play a tough schedule. The three tournaments we’re in all are very solid. We have nonconference games against teams like Parkway Central, Lindbergh, Rock Bridge and Lafayette. Our three conference opponents will be very solid. It’s probably the toughest division in the GAC. We hope our schedule prepares us for our district tournament.”
Washington has been assigned to Class 5 District 10 with Northwest, Rolla, Lebanon and Waynesville.
This season’s district tournament will be played at Rolla High School.