SYRACUSE — The Wawasee boys basketball team features just two seniors to begin this season, but what a pair with which to begin.
Jake Thompson was the area’s leading scorer a year ago at 24.1 points per game, and more importantly now, he’s healthy, while fellow 6-foot-5 senior Ryndan Aaron is back after averaging 9.5 points and showing a step-in attitude while Thompson was hurt last year.
The Warriors started 8-4 with Thompson in 2011-12 before winding up 10-13 overall after he suffered a shoulder injury for the second straight year.
All-Area honorable mention point guard Jake Clark is among a handful of graduation losses.
Similar to recent seasons, 13th-year Wawasee coach Phil Mishler again plans on his team being high-volume with its substitutions, its 3-point attempts and its gambling on defense.
Two players on the 15-man roster, Kody Carpenter and Bailey Hershberger, are out for roughly six weeks each due to injuries, while a third senior on the roster remains sidelined until at least January under school academic guidelines.
“We always say that we want to improve every day, every game, but I think it’s even more important this year,” Mishler says. “I think the seniors will provide good leadership and give us some experience, but with a few players out and being kind of young, we’re going to have to develop and give our best effort every day.”
The Warriors open Tuesday when they host Fairfield, and they’ll be at home for a Class 3A six-team sectional this season after heading over to NorthWood for postseason last March.
Warrior coach Phil Mishler’s take ...
Jake Thompson’s been declared healthy, but in light of major injuries to both shoulders over the last two years, has he become at all skittish about contact?
“Naturally, I think he would be, but the way he’s practicing, no. Every single minute for eight straight days he hasn’t missed a beat. He’s going as hard as I’ve had a player go. He’s mentally here, he’s physically here, and he’s leading. He’s doing a very nice job. He played all summer with MBA, and I think those games probably allowed him to know he’s capable of getting hit and withstanding that.”
Who are your other projected starters or rotation regulars?
“Ryndan Aaron will obviously get a lot of playing time along with Jacob. Alex Clark and Chase Myers will be starters. The fifth we don’t know for sure. Gage Reinhard, Stori Bright and David Rocha are all sophomores, and all are battling well for spots. The starting five aren’t necessarily the best five. We’d like to find and go with an eight-man rotation. That’s why we have 15 dressed for varsity. You don’t know yet who will come through.”
Graduated Jake Clark was a familiar face at point guard the last couple years. Who takes over?
“I think Jacob can handle it, Alex (Clark) played there some last year as a freshman and can handle it. And we’ve got Gage coming on strong. Becoming the quarterback in football probably has something to do with it, but he’s just gained a ton of confidence. He’s a different player than I saw even this past summer.”
Lots of 3-point tries, lots of substituting and lots of defensive chance-taking have been recent norms. More of the same?
“I’d say yes on those things. On defense, we’ve got to make it happen before it gets down in the paint, because in the paint is where we’re weaker right now. And we want to get something from the bench. I think last year we had to adapt because of injuries and other circumstances that took away a few of our players. We just didn’t have enough depth to go with the speed. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get away from that and continue with the game plan we want.”
Wawasee boys basketball: Facts and figures
By the numbers
Wawasee’s record last season after Jake Thompson was sidelined for the remainder of it with a shoulder injury. The Warriors had gone 8-4 with Thompson.
Thompson’s career points, leaving him third among active area players despite missing 24 games due to injury over the last two years.
No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr.
10 Aaron Voirol PG 5-9 So.
12 Doug Hapner F 6-2 Jr.
14 Gage Reinhard PG 5-9 So.
20 Jake Hutchinson G 5-11 So.
22 Chase Myers F 6-5 Jr.
24 David Rocha G 5-10 So.
30 Jake Thompson G 6-5 Sr.
32 Bailey Hershberger G 6-0 So.
34 Ryndan Aaron F 6-5 Sr.
40 Alex Clark G 6-1 So.
42 Justin Ciriello F 6-5 So.
44 Garrett Balser C 6-5 Sr.
50 Stori Bright C 6-2 So.
52 Elijah Solina C 6-3 So.
54 Kody Carpenter C 6-4 Jr.
Coach: Phil Mishler (163-110 in 12 seasons, all at Wawasee).
Assistants: Nate O’Connell, Barry Singrey, Ed Waltz.
20 — Fairfield. 24 — at Angola. 30 — at Manchester.
1 — West Noble. 8 — Whitko. 14 — Warsaw (c). 18 — at Columbia City. 21 — at Mishawaka.
4 — at NorthWood (c). 11 — at Memorial (North Side Gym) (c). 12 — Central. 18 — Plymouth (c). 25 — at Concord (c) 26 — at Lakeland.
2 — Northridge (c). 7 — at Goshen (c). 9 — Central Noble. 12 — Westview. 15 — FW South 22 — at Tippecanoe Valley.
(c) — Denotes Northern Lakes Conference game.
Points: Jake Thompson 24.1*, Ryndan Aaron 9.5, Alex Clark 4.4.
Rebounds: Thompson 4.3, Aaron 2.8.
Assists: Thompson 2.7, Clark 0.6.
Steals: Thompson 2.2*, Aaron 0.5.
* — Denotes also led last season’s team overall.