The sting of last season’s conclusion lingers, but it’s not hindering the team’s growth in the offseason.
Crothersville’s boys basketball team is using the experience as a learning curve.
This summer, the Tigers are putting in the hours inside and out of their home gymnasium.
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On Monday, the Tigers traveled to Clarksville High School for a shootout. The Tigers didn’t drop a game on the day, beating Orleans 73-63, Charlestown 52-40 and New Washington 50-47.
The Tigers also competed in the Henryville Shootout recently and are going a team camp at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology next week. The Tigers will play about 15 games at Rose-Hulman over a three-day span.
“We do weights and individual workouts Monday, Wednesday and Fridays for about two hours,” Tigers coach Greg Kilgore said. “The kids are working a little harder than they’re used to. We have a couple nice new additions and some old faces that have matured a lot over the spring and summer.”
The Tigers made it to the Class A Sectional 62 championship game this past winter but fell short to West Washington 53-41. The Tigers hadn’t made a sectional final since 2004, and the program hasn’t won a sectional title in 104 years of IHSAA membership.
Crothersville finished with a record of 15-11.
“We’re still talking about the sectional and how close we were,” Kilgore said. “We don’t want to be that close again. We were 7 minutes, 30 seconds away from winning our first sectional. We don’t want to send our seniors out on that same note.”
The Tigers will be without two key seniors from last year’s team, as they’ve lost Logan Brewer and Lane Wienhorst to graduation.
In two seasons, Brewer scored 917 points for the Tigers. The Tribune’s 2018-19 Jackson County Player of the Year scored 515 total points in his final season. He averaged 19.8 points and 6 rebounds per game.
Wienhorst, a four-year starter, was a constant for the Tigers. Kilgore said his versatility on both ends of the court and leadership will be missed this year.
While two key cogs have been removed, the Tigers still have a lot of weaponry on their roster.
The Tigers return the program’s all-time leading scorer in senior Josh Thomas as well as junior starters Timmy Burton and Cable Spall.
Thomas is trying to step into a bigger leadership role in his final season. Kilgore said Thomas recently called him to tell him the team needs to work harder.
“We need to get in shape. If we’re not in shape, we won’t compete,” Thomas said. “We’re going to play a lot of teams that are deep. We also need to work on our defense.”
Junior Ethan Shirley, a transfer from Brownstown Central, saw plenty of minutes at the shootout along with senior Carson Farmer and junior Quinten Keasler.
“I think Quinten Keasler will step up and do a nice job for us in the post. I think he’s starting to realize he is 6-5 and carries a little weight and can play in the post,” Kilgore said. ” I think Cable Spall has matured a lot and Carson Farmer has developed a lot.
“We’re not going to replace a Logan Brewer or Lane Wienhorst. What you hope is that one or two kids will get out of their comfort zone and fill some of the voids that Logan and Lane left behind.”
Spall, a guard, said the summer has been a good time to build team chemistry.
“We’re learning how to play together without Logan and Lane,” he said. “Us working together out here will get us ready for when the season comes along.”
Kilgore, who is entering his eighth year at the helm, said every team in the state is busy trying to get better this summer.
“The main thing is that everyone else is doing it,” Kilgore said. “I would love to take June and July off to spend time with my family and sit on my front porch, but every team in the state is playing somewhere between 18 and 30 games in the month of June. If you don’t, you’re going to be behind by the time that November rolls around.”
Keasler feels the team will be a force in the season and looks forward to the challenges ahead.
“We lost some guys, but I think we have guys that will step up,” Keasler said. “It’s going to be a fun season. The sectional is what we’re working toward.”