Holmes area high school boys basketball team previews

Holmes area high school boys basketball team previews
Justin Smith

Collier Cline, left, is one of three returning senior letterwinners for West Holmes.


The high school boys basketball season will begin Dec. 1.

Here are season previews for each school in The Holmes Bargain Hunter’s coverage area:


The Hawks advanced to the state tournament for the 19th time in program history last season.

With six letterwinners returning from that team, they appear primed to make another run at a state berth this season.

“We have a much more experienced team to start this year (compared to last year),” 19th-year coach Mark Schlabach said. “We should be better at the offensive end, but we are not as good defensively as we were last year.”

Returning letterwinners include seniors Sammy Detweiler (G), Alex Yoder (P) and Connor Beachy (G); junior Nick Wigton (G); and sophomores Alex Miller (G) and Ashton Shrock (G). They’ll be joined by newcomers juniors Sam Wengerd (G), Logan Hershberger (G) and Zeke Bodiker (P).

“Hopefully, we will be able to have more balance offensively (this season),” Schlabach said. “We need to get better at the defensive end and figure out our roles (to start the season).”

Hiland finished last season with a 19-10 overall record and a 7-5 mark in the Inter-Valley Conference South Division, good for a fourth-place finish.

“Sandy Valley won the league last year and has everyone back,” Schlabach said. “Indian Valley has a very talented team. Garaway will be good as usual. Everyone on our side of the league will be a tough game.”

West Holmes

The Knights endured plenty of turmoil last season including a coaching change midway through the season.

Despite that, optimism remains high around the program with former River View coach Ben Belden now leading the way.

“This team is going to run an up-tempo style of offense and pick up the pace a little more than what West Holmes teams have done in the past,” Belden said. “We will still hang our hat on being aggressive and pressuring on the defensive end. Overall, this team feels like it is better than previous records might indicate and is eager to go out and prove themselves this year.”

Three senior letterwinners are back this season — Collier Cline (G), Nate Fair (F) and Sam Sprang (G/F) — and they’ll be joined by newcomers senior Wyatt Schlauch (F/C) and sophomores Manny Camacho (F/C) and Lynn Cline (G).

“The players on this team have really good chemistry,” Belden said. “Many of them have played together for a long time since their days as youth basketball players. They like each other, and they share in each other’s successes. I think the beauty of this specific team will be its balance. We have many players who are candidates to lead us in scoring on any night, and all of them add something a little different to our team.”

Finding depth will be critical for the Knights early in the season.

“We have some upperclassmen returning with experience, but we will rely on many newcomers to play big roles on our team,” Belden said.

West Holmes ended last season with a 2-21 overall mark and a 1-13 record in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

“Being new to West Holmes, it’s hard to predict exactly how our conference schedule will play out,” Belden said. “I feel pretty confident that we will be a formidable opponent to everyone we play. Our goal is simply to compete at a high level and let the chips fall where they may.”


The Redbirds will enter this season with more varsity experience than they’ve had in recent years.

“Coming into the season with experienced upperclassmen will be nice,” third-year coach Jim Bates said. “The last two years, a lot of freshmen and sophomores had to play early varsity minutes.”

Six letterwinners are back this season including seniors Hunter Polen (F) and Dakota Shook (C) and juniors Judah Layton (F), Dilon Wade (G), Brady Gessner (G) and Lane Mack (G).

“This group is very coachable,” Bates said. “They get along well, which should help with team chemistry. Team depth could be an issue early. We will see who steps up for some much-needed varsity minutes.”

Loudonville ended last season with a 7-16 overall record and a 4-6 mark in the Mid-Buckeye Conference, finishing fourth in the conference standings.

“Lucas is the top choice (to win the MBC) right now until someone beats them,” Bates said. “They have a run of great athletes. Mansfield Christian has some move-ins and looked really good this summer. We’re still building and hope to keep improving by working hard.”


The Pirates graduated several key pieces from last year’s regional qualifying team, but with several talented players returning, they remain a threat to make another deep postseason run this season.

“The five seniors who graduated had been varsity starters the past two seasons,” eighth-year coach Terry Rowe said. “With many key players still on the football field due to their success, we are looking forward to them getting in the gym at some point. We are excited for the opportunity to see the growth of our new starters and key players off the bench throughout the upcoming season. Once we get the full team in the gym, we will have a better idea of what our strengths and weaknesses will be.”

Returning letterwinners include seniors Gabe Amicone (P), Jenson Garber (G), Jackson Reifenschneider (P) and Wyatt Wallick (W) and junior Blaine Raber (G). They’ll be joined by incoming juniors Bronson Speedy (W), Brady Geibel (W), Bennet Wallick (G) and Chett Troyer (P).

“We expect our three top players to be the first three players off the bench for us last season,” Rowe said. “Those players are Gabe Amicone, Jenson Garber and Blaine Raber. Each player brings a set of basketball skills and athleticism that will be greatly needed as we break in a group new to varsity or playing a vastly different role than they did last year for us.”

Garaway finished last season with a 22-5 overall mark and earned a share of the IVC South Division title with a 9-3 record.

“The league from top to bottom will be very good,” Rowe said. “Sandy Valley, Hiland and Indian Valley have many key players returning from successful teams last year. Claymont and Tusky Valley have key young players returning, as does Ridgewood. Each night will be a great challenge for our players.”


Triway’s boys basketball team has been a steady force for as long as most area basketball fans remember. And for the longest time, the Titans were in that reload, not rebuild mode.

Last year, though, it was more about rebounding — and not the kind that follows missed shots. Coach Ben Holt’s squad needed to regroup a bit last year to regain its stature, especially in the Principals Athletic Conference.

During the 2021-22 season, Triway had what was once a rare losing campaign, stumbling to a 7-16 record and finishing 4-8 in the PAC. It was the Titans’ first losing season under Holt, who has had the Titans headed in better directions of late.

To their credit, the Titans did bounce back and are now coming off a 2022-23 season that saw them go a solid 14-10 overall and 11-3 in the PAC, good for sole possession of second place behind Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, which ran the 14-game conference table.

Triway lost some pieces from that squad, with four letterwinners graduating. They’ll need to find a replacement for leading scorer Zack Miller, who poured in 19 points per game last season en route to first-team PAC and Inland District honors.

“Losing a top scorer for us in Zack Miller will be hard to replace,” Holt said. “But some of the guard experience we have coming back will be crucial to our success.”

Back in the fold are sophomore guard Braydon Holt, who earned honorable mention All-PAC honors after averaging 13 points as a freshman, and senior forward Drew Bishko, who matched Holt’s scoring output and landed on the All-PAC first team as well as getting an Inland District honorable mention.

That pair will be joined this year by fellow returning lettermen Cale Drown (senior guard) and Ron Bricker and Landon Frank (junior forwards).

“Our strength will be our ability to play multiple ways,” Holt said. “With the experience back, we should not be fooled by anything thrown at us.”

Looking to contribute will be newcomers Luke Snowbarger (senior forward), Jakoda Hammitt (junior guard), Stephen Shickluna (junior forward), Bruin Flinner (freshman guard) and Jalen Hacket (freshman forward).

“We have some experience coming back, but the ones who have not played varsity minutes before will need to be able to step in and be productive when called upon,” Holt said.

CVCA was the class of the league beyond record alone and dealt Triway a pair of one-sided defeats.

“The top teams are once again CVCA, Canton South and Northwest,” Holt said. “And if we play to our capabilities, we could have a say in the title as well.”

The Titans will kick things off Dec. 1 with a home game against Northwestern of the Wayne County Athletic League. Their league opener will be a week later against Northwest, also at home.

Triway will get its first crack at defending champ CVCA on Dec. 22 on the road. The Royals will visit The Pit on Jan. 26.

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