With runner-up finishes in both the Four Rivers Conference and Class 2 District 8 Tournament, the New Haven Shamrocks opened eyes in 2019-20.

Aaron Peirick’s team went 19-8 overall, 5-2 in the Four Rivers Conference.

“We finished second in both the conference and our district,” Peirick said. “That burned. We also hopefully learned how small the difference between winning and losing games is every night.”

With three starters returning, New Haven tied Owensville for sixth in the 2020-21 Four Rivers Conference preseason poll.

New Haven opens play Friday at home against California. Junior varsity action begins at 6 p.m.

The Shamrocks then head into the Montgomery County Tournament Nov. 30-Dec. 5.

Top players returning are point guard John Liggett, guard-forward Zachary Groner, forward Owen Borcherding, guard Jacob Engelbrecht and guard Matthew Otten. All are seniors.

Liggett averaged 13.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 2.9 assists and two steals per game.

Groner averaged 6.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and one assist per game.

Borcherding had 5.6 points and four rebounds per contest.

Engelbrecht recorded 1.7 points per game.

Otten checked in at 1.5 points per game.

“We need to fill the two guard spots and scoring and defensive presence and general great play that were vacated by Luke Gerlemann and Jay Eichelberger last year,” Peirick said. “I don’t think we need anyone to be those two, but I do think that our returning senior starters can all step up to help fill those roles and that Jacob and Sam (Scheer) can both be productive varsity players for us consistently. Our bench will be deeper and give us what we need on a given night as well.”

Gerlemann was New Haven’s top scorer last season at 15.8 points per game. He also averaged 4.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game. Eichelberger averaged 8.8 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 steals per game.

Players looking to make an impact include Scheer, a junior swing player, junior guard Logan Williams, junior guard Mitchell Meyer, junior forward Adam Homeyer and junior forward Charlie Roth.

Overall, the Shamrocks have 12 players on the varsity roster.

Peirick hopes his team can compete for the conference and district titles once again this winter.

“Everyone in the conference is good,” Peirick said. “It’s so hard to beat anyone in our conference. Our area is a great area for basketball and I don’t think you can go wrong watching any of them.” 

Peirick said there will be a fan policy with only half of the New Haven gym’s capacity being filled.

“We are allowing half capacity — 300 people — to attend,” Peirick said. “I’m not stoked about that. I think our gym is pretty special, especially when it is full and hot and loud.”

Peirick is being assisted by Tim Tallent and Derek Bailey.