BENTON — You lose some, you gain some. Or in the case of Fairfield High School boys basketball, both.
In an unusual twist, four non-graduated Falcon veterans are not returning for at least three different reasons that coach Troy Beachy prefers not to discuss, beyond assuring that he doesn’t believe there’s anything signaling a trend.
Meanwhile, in the nice-timing department, Fairfield’s also picked up a couple players somewhat unexpectedly.
Forward Garrett Scott, who was good enough as a sophomore two years ago to rank third on the team in minutes, has opted to return to the program, while fellow senior and former JV player Brad Lantz, a 6-foot-5 center, is also aboard and should help.
“I really only want to talk about the guys who are here,” says Beachy, who begins his second season in charge.
Those who are here include senior center Alex Miller, who showed glimpses of busting out on his way to averaging 5.3 points and 3.0 rebounds overall for an 8-13 club last winter; Scott, who averaged 4.9 points as a sophomore; five others with varsity experience; and a pair of freshmen who have earned varsity looks.
The key departure is versatile and graduated All-Area honorable mention pick Chandler Kauffman, who averaged 15.1 points and 6.7 rebounds a year ago.
“At the end of the day, when you can go to practice and have it be fun, when you have a good group of guys who are also good in the classroom and come from good families,” Beachy says, “then wins and losses aside, you know you have something good. It’s a fun experience when you know you have kids who are going to work hard, and we have that.”
Fairfield, beginning its second season in Class 3A, opens Tuesday at Wawasee. The home opener is Nov. 30, when Prairie Heights visits.
Falcon coach Troy Beach’s take...
You indicate that your starters aren’t set. Who are the candidates to start?
“I’d like to name all our players, because they’re going to play. We’ve got three seniors with Alex Miller returning, with Garrett Scott, who’s played varsity before and is the quarterback of the football team, and with Brad Lantz, who has decided to come out. And then the juniors are John Stack, Nate Miller, Marcus Rodes, Zack Kropf and Thomas Martin, and then the sophomores are Joe Line and Josh Stephens, and Mitch DeWitt is a freshman. Those are my top 11, and I’m just not worried about who’s starting.”
Is it really that balanced?
“I think we’re going to be deeper and more talented than we were last year. Losing (graduated) Chandler Kauffman, he gave us a lot of scoring, and I don’t necessarily see that one go-to guy now, but I do see that we’re a lot deeper, and that excites me. One of the things we’re emphasizing is teamwork. We need to be unselfish and cohesive, and if we are, I think just about anybody could have a good night.”
What are some of the potential strengths of the team?
“I think one of our strengths is that we’ll be able to get the ball inside. Alex Miller started most of the year last year in there. I think Brad Lantz could have a nice year in there. Garrett has become more of an inside threat. I look at our forwards kind of leading us, and that opening things up for our guards.”
What about defensively?
“I see things that are carrying over from a year ago as far as how we communicate, the help, the on-ball pressure. I’m seeing things the first week that I did not see at the same time last year, so we’re better off right now than we were a year ago at this point.”
By the numbers
First-time venues on Fairfield’s schedule. Not only do the Falcons join the Tippecanoe Valley holiday tournament field this season, but they’ll get an opportunity to play at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, when they meet Bremen as part of a Dec. 28 shootout in Indianapolis.
Consecutive seasons that Fairfield has won at least one Northeast Corner Conference Tournament game.
No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr.
10 Garrett Scott F 6-2 Sr.
12 Zack Kropf G 5-10 Jr.
14 Josh Stephens G 5-7 So.
20 Marcus Rodes F 6-2 Jr.
21 Brock Geoglein F 6-1 Fr.
22 Mitch DeWitt G 5-8 Fr.
23 John Stack F 5-8 Jr.
24 Brad Lantz C 6-5 Sr.
30 Nate Miller F 6-0 Jr.
31 Joe Line F 6-2 So.
32 Thomas Martin F 6-1 Jr.
34 Clay Bontrager F 6-3 So.
40 Alex Miller C 6-3 Sr.
Coach: Troy Beachy (8-13 in one season at Fairfield).
Assistants: Dave Hamilton, Jeff Ulrich, Patrick Thompson, Jason Goon.
20 — at Wawasee. 30 — Prairie Heights (c).
4 — at Lakeland (c). 8 — NorthWood. 14 — Hamilton (c). 15 — Goshen. 21-22 — Tippecanoe Valley Holiday Tournament (with NorthWood, Rochester). 28 — vs. Bremen at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis (2:30 p.m., varsity only).
5 — at Eastside (c). 8-12 — NECC Tournament. 18 — at Westview (c). 25 — at West Noble (c). 26 — Northridge.
7 — Fremont (c). 9 — at Angola (c). 15 — Churubusco (c). 19 — at Jimtown. 22 — at Central Noble (c).
(c) — Denotes Northeast Corner Conference game.
Points: Alex Miller 5.3, Garrett Scott 4.9, Nate Miller 2.6.
Rebounds: A. Miller 3.0, Scott 2.3.
Assists: Scott 1.1, John Stack 0.8.
Steals: Scott 0.6, Zack Kropf 0.6.
* — Scott’s averages are for 2010-11. He did not play last season.