By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Blending is one of the first things Westview High School boys basketball coach Rob Yoder feels the Warriors need to accomplish during the 2012-13 season.
Five letterwinners return from a team that posted a 21-6 record (8-2 in the NECC) a year ago and captured the program’s second consecutive Class 2A sectional championship.
“We are trying to blend a group of individuals into a good team by next March,” the coach said. “We have some good experience back from last year and some good guys moving up from the JV that need to help us. We are going to have a very deep JV this season. We have 10 players on the JV and some of them are going to be helping us out on the varsity at times this year.”
The Warriors open the current season by hosting the Bethany Christian Bruins on Tuesday.
Yoder is beginning his 10th season at Westview. He has a 146-72 record over the previous nine campaigns.
The three most experienced returnees are 6-4 senior guard Kyle Miller, 6-3 senior forward Nic Raber and 5-10 junior guard Jordyn Bontrager.
“Nate and Jordyn both started every game last season,” Yoder said. “Kyle is our top returning scorer.”
Miller scored 191 points a year ago (9.1 per game). He had a high of 31 against Wawasee. He was one of the team’s top shooters, hitting 53.2 percent (59-of-111).
“Kyle is a really good scorer,” Yoder said. “He has worked hard on his game since last season. He has gotten himself into good shape and we are expecting him to play better on defense this season. That also means we are expecting to keep him on the floor more.”
Raber tossed in 163 points (6.0). He was another of the team’s leading shooters hitting 54.6 percent (59-of-108) and is the top returning rebounder at 3.1 per contest.
“Nic is a good player on both offense and defense,” Yoder said. “He helps us become a better team. He understands how to make us a better team. His size helps us to.”
Bontrager scored 108 points (5.8). He tossed in a high of 13 points against Northridge. He is the team’s top returning shooter from 3-point range hitting 42.0 percent (21-of-50). He made three treys in several games, including a 57-51 win over Fremont in the championship of the NECC tournament.
He averaged 3.0 rebounds and 2.2 assists per contest.
“Jordyn is at the gym all the time,” Yoder said.
“He is always putting in the time to get better. He is an awfully talented player who had a good sophomore season. This is his year so we expect him to have an even better season this year. He is a good outside shooter or he can score off the dribble. He is going to have the ball in his hands an awful lot and is going to have to be one of our leaders.”
The other two returnees are 6-3 senior forward Brett Yoder and 6-3 sophomore forward Chandler Aspy. Yoder averaged 1.3 points per game and Aspy 2.2.
Losses to graduation were Brant Yoder (14.5 ppg), Jerry Schwartz (2.4) and Nick Miller (.1).
A couple of players did not come out this year, including 6-3 junior Judah Zickafoose (3.8 ppg).
“Judah has decided to concentrate on baseball and some others decided not to play,” Yoder said.
“You anticipate having them, but every year you never really know how your roster is going to look until practice begins.
“We only have eight players listed on the varsity, but we have some depth. There has been a lot of competition for playing time. All eight of them are all going to play.”
The rest of the varsity players are 6-0 junior guard Damon Hershberger, 5-11 junior guard Jamar Weaver and 6-0 sophomore guard Daron Miller.
“Jamar has probably improved the most since last season,” Yoder said. “He is a good shooter.”
Westview hit 69.9 percent from the free-throw line a year ago. Raber was at 76.3, Kyle Miller 73.3 and Bontrager 68.3.
As a team, the Warriors hit 50.5 percent on all field goals and 35.8 from beyond the arc.
“We have the potential to shoot better as a team from the perimeter,” the coach said.
“We think that gives us a chance to improve upon last season’s record, but I’m sure a lot of the teams on our schedule feel the same way.”