Coming off a district championship boys basketball season, Washington hopes to continue its momentum with a new head coach leading the way.
Grant Young replaces Chip Sodemann as the Blue Jays’ head coach. Sodemann left WHS to become the basketball coach at Liberty High School in Wentzville.
Young comes to Washington from Union, where he coached the girls basketball program for one season. The Lady ‘Cats had a 16-9 overall record and a 4-3 mark in the Four Rivers Conference during the 2012-13 season.
A Union High School graduate, Young has a 253-138 record as a head coach, which includes girls coaching stints at Union, Wheatland, Neosho and Purdy. He also coached the Wheatland boys.
“I’m really excited to be at Washington and we’re all anxious to see what we got and what we need to work on. We have the talent to do some good things. We play a tough schedule,” Young said. “We had a good summer, which helped with the transition of a new system and new schemes. Our expectations for the season are high.”
Washington returns three starters from last season’s 19-10 district championship team that lost to Hickman in the Class 5 sectional round.
Leading the way is 6-6 senior guard Ronnie Suggs, who has already verbally committed to play at the University of Missouri.
Suggs, who averaged 17 points per game last season, will attend a prep school next year before heading to Columbia.
Brad Carpenter, a 6-0 senior guard who will play golf at Missouri State next season, also returns to the starting lineup. He averaged eight points per game last season and is one of the top three-point shooters in the area.
Jacob Mulkey, a 6-1 senior guard, also is a returning starter.
“We have two future Division I athletes with Ronnie and Brad. We’ll rely on both of them to score. Throw in Jacob, and we have three good athletes and leaders coming back,” Young said. “Ronnie is going to get a lot of attention from our opponents, but he has the ability to find open players. With the dribble drive offense we have, we have kids who can hit the three. Carp was a 43 percent three-point shooter last season. Our offense is set up to penetrate and kick, and we have guys who can do it.”
Other seniors on the team are 6-0 guard Patrick Menke, 6-4 forward Austin Subke, 6-4 forward Dane Meyer and 5-10 guard Christian Hardesty.
Every senior on the team has varsity experience. Menke and Hardesty should help with the scoring and Subke gives the team a scoring and rebounding threat from the inside.
Juniors on the squad are 5-11 guard Cole Schroepfer, 6-1 forward Mike Morgan, 6-2 forward Camron Shipley and 6-3 forward Jacob Huxol.
Also on the varsity roster are 5-11 sophomore guard Isaiah West and 5-9 freshman guard Trey Walsh.
“We have kids like Suggs and Mulkey who can attack the basket. Carp can shoot from anywhere. Walsh and West are spot up shooters,” Young said. “We have to be a physical team. Subke has stepped up and looks good in the post. We need him to rebound and give us an inside presence. We’re really focusing on defense, rebounding and allowing just one shot per possession to allow us to get into transition. Our defense has to set up our offense.”
Young said he expects other players to get varsity experience this season.
“We have a combined varsity and junior varsity roster that features 22 kids,” Young said. “You’re going to see some of our guys split time between the two teams.”
Other sophomores on the roster are Daniel Diener, Brendon Brinker, Mitch Barrow, Koby Lang, Clayton Walde, Will Davis, Christian Withers, Derrick Hillerman and Jacob Mohesky.
Washington is in the Gold Division of the Borgia Thanksgiving Tournament and opens Monday at 8:30 p.m. against Union. The Blue Jays meet O’Fallon Christian Thanksgiving night at 6 p.m.
The tournament concludes Saturday, Nov. 30, with the Gold consolation game at 1:30 p.m., the third-place contest at 3 p.m. and the championship game at 7:30 p.m.
“We have a very good schedule this season,” Young said. “We play at the Scottrade Center Jan. 9 against Holt. We also play Kirkwood at the GAC-Suburban Shootout and Jefferson City at the Sullivan Shootout.”
Washington plays at a jamboree against Pacific and Kirkwood Friday at Pacific starting at 5 p.m.
Young is being assisted by Mike Scheer, Adam Meyer and Clint Schneider. Cory Epperson, who played on the varsity team last season, suffered a torn ACL during the summer and will be the team manager this season.