Panther boys look to trample Mustangs

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Logan Hanchett, Sports Writer

It’s the start of a new season for the Bloomington South boys basketball team. Last year, South finished the regular season 23-2 and lost the regional semi-finals to New Albany, 65-45. Replacing the loss of Chance Coyle is going to be a tough task for the Panthers. However, South has the talent to do it, ranked No. 9 by OSports in the pre-season.

Slotting in at point guard for South will be returning starter Noah Jager. Jager, a 5-foot-8 junior, displayed poise distributing the ball last year. He also has been keen to put up his own shots from outside the arc.

Anthony Leal, the top class of 2020 recruit in the state, will be depended on by South this season. Leal already has offers from several D-1 programs, including Iowa and Maryland, with Indiana and others also showing interest. At 6-foot-5, the shooting guard is an explosive player who possesses a deadly three point shot. He has the potential to lead South to great things this season.

Grayson Rolen missed most of last season with an injured right hand, but he got off to a hot start in Thursday’s scrimmage against North. The 6-foot-2 senior guard finished with 28 points, guiding South to victories in three of four quarters. Alongside Leal, Rolen appears poised to present yet another perimeter threat for opposing teams.

Another key returner for South happens to be a sophomore. Connor Hickman, a 6-foot-2 guard, saw serious varsity minutes last season. He’s gotten taller since last year and is expected to be one of South’s top scorers.

Hickman’s fellow sophomore, Joseph Bomba, is an excellent perimeter shooter who should see more time this season. Bomba, a 6-foot-4 small forward, has the height and shooting ability to put up good numbers this season. Prep Hoops cited Hickman and Bomba as one of the top sophomore duos in the state.

While South has a field of shooters, the team may struggle inside the paint. James Bomba, a 6-foot-5 junior power forward, looks to fill that void. He didn’t see much time last season, but will be thrust into a bigger role following the departure of Ryan Parker. He’ll be crucial on the boards and elsewhere this season.

Opposing the Panthers will be the 3A Edgewood Mustangs who went 22-6 last year and won a sectional title. Senior point guard Joe Kido stands just 5-foot-6, but he has experience running the floor. He dished out 4.5 assists per game last year and possesses excellent ball control. Edgewood may lack size this year, but it has a group of perimeter threats.

Trevor Taylor, a 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 15.1 points per game as a freshman for the Mustangs last year. He’s a talented scorer with some range. Taylor is likely to match up against fellow sophomore Connor Hickman.

Kyle Rogers (G), Logan Slabaugh (F), Derek Farkas (G) and Cam Banister (G) round out the rest of the Mustangs’ core. Each is capable of hitting some deep shots, but Edgewood looks like a team that will live and die by the three this season.

On defending Edgewood’s guards, “Our plan will be the same as always. We’re going to play team defense and help each other out as much as possible,” junior point guard Noah Jager said.

Edgewood could keep things close if they get hot from the three point line. While both teams have some terrific guards, South has the edge size-wise and will create mismatches inside the paint. The Mustangs just don’t have anyone who can contain Anthony Leal. Last year South won 82-37. While it won’t be quite so bad for Edgewood this time around, South will still run away with things in the second half. OSports Prediction: South 76, Edgewood 48.