DUNLAP — When it comes to making an extended state tournament run, Concord High School boys basketball coach Steve Austin says “if we’re ever going to do it, this has to be the year.”
He doesn’t mean that literally in terms of the program beyond this year, but it does sum up the sense of urgency around McCuen Gym, at least for the seniors involved.
And led by Franko House, the Minutemen feature a half-dozen seniors.
House, a Ball State University recruit, enters his final season with a chance to become just the second player in Concord’s rich history to be named an Elkhart Truth All-Area first-team selection three times. The other is four-timer Shawn Kemp.
House averaged 14.7 points and 7.8 rebounds last winter, and he has often in his career been at his greatest when the stakes have been highest.
A year ago, the Minutemen went 18-5, their best mark in the last seven seasons, but they could not solve mighty Memorial in either the Northern Lakes Conference race or the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional.
Other returning starters include DuWhan Alford and Adam Glanders, while graduation took All-Area first-teamer Jason Spriggs and Seth Huxford.
Thanks to an extended state tournament run of its own by the football team, the basketball opener has been pushed back to next Friday at Glenn. The home debut is Dec. 7 against Penn.
Concord coach Steve Austin’s take ...
It seems Franko House has been about the big moment. If he can see his whole senior year as one big moment, how good can he be?
“I think the pressure’s off with him signing early (at Ball State). No. 1, I’d like to see a lot of leadership out of him. You don’t automatically see that out of seniors just because they’re seniors. I’d like to see him really take off. He’s a great player, but he’s been passive at times all three years. I want to see him dominate from day one. He can do just about everything, post up, shoot outside, pass, rebound.”
Who are the others penciled in to start or play major minutes?
“DuWhan (Alford), it’s going to be his fourth year on varsity. He’s going to give us a strong presence inside with rebounding and everything else. Ramon Johnson, I think he’s our key. If he handles things well (at point guard), we can be tough. He’s pretty athletic and he’s gotten bigger. Adam (Glanders) came on last year and gives us so much energy. He can do a lot of things and he’s a pretty good shooter. Right now, Ghaneah (Wayker) would be at center for us, but he’s being pushed in there by Filip Serwatka. He’s a pretty multi-talented big kid who can also dribble. Then Dylan Wynne, Dakota Simon and Jacob Kronk are some of the others with a chance to play a lot. We’ve got a lot of players and we need to mix in some of the juniors and sophomores.”
The majority of your roster was also involved in the deep football run. What are the effects of that?
“We’ll probably start out pretty slow until we get in basketball shape, but we do a lot of years. A lot of guys are huffing and puffing after five minutes. The first couple games we’ll have to do a lot of subbing. We’re way behind with putting stuff in, so we’re keeping it simple. But the other thing is, they came so close in football (before losing in the semistate) that I hope they’re still hungry. That’s why I like them playing more than one sport. That hunger carries over.”
Any changes in store, and what are the goals for this team?
“We’re putting more emphasis on defense. Usually at this time of the year, we’re about 70-30 offense, but we’re about 70 defense right now, because we know the offense will come. The other coaches have convinced me to do it that way. As far as goals, we have a senior class that’s been playing together a long time and we definitely have (winning the Northern Lakes) conference as a goal. We’ve always come close with this group, but never gotten it done. And then we want to make a good run in the state tournament. That’s why we’ve got that emphasis on defense. You can always have a bad night offensively, but there’s no reason not to play well defensively.”
By the numbers
Consecutive seasons since the Minutemen last won a Northern Lakes Conference title. They were second to Memorial last season and second to Warsaw in 2010-11.
Winning seasons by Concord in the last 12 years, best in the area.
No. Player Pos. Ht. Yr.
10 Ramon Johnson G 5-8 Jr.
12 Dylan Wynne G 6-4 Sr.
14 Jerrell Poindexter G 5-9 So.
20 Adam Glanders F 6-2 Jr.
22 DuWhan Alford F 6-3 Sr.
24 Cain Crowley G 6-2 Sr.
30 Franko House F 6-6 Sr.
32 Brett Austin F 6-3 So.
34 Jacob Kronk G 5-10 Jr.
42 Ryan Tepe G 5-11 So.
44 Dakota Simon F 6-2 Sr.
50 Danny McMahon G 6-1 So.
52 Ghaneah Wayker C 6-7 Sr.
54 Filip Serwatka F 6-5 So.
Coach: Steve Austin (385-241 in 27 seasons overall; 63-27 in 4 seasons at Concord; 4-17 in 1 season at Edwardsburg, 160-93 in 11 seasons at Northridge, 18-28 in 2 seasons at Richmond, 140-76 in 9 seasons at SB St. Joseph).
Assistants: Chris Swartout, Jim Read, Tim Osborne, Eric Gaff.
30 — at Glenn.
7 — Penn. 14 — Memorial (c). 18 — Lakeland 22 — vs. Wapahani at Indianapolis Marshall (12:45 p.m.). 28 — at Marian in NIC/NLC Shootout. 29 — Mishawaka in NIC/NLC Shootout.
4 — at Goshen (c). 8 — at SB Clay. 11 — Plymouth (c). 15 — at Central (North Side Gym). 18 — at Warsaw (c). 25 — Wawasee (c). 26 — at LaPorte.
2 — at NorthWood (c). 7 — Northridge (c). 12 — SB Riley. 15 — Jimtown. 19 — at Mishawaka. 22 — Westview.
(c) — Denotes Northern Lakes Conference game.
Points: Frank House 14.7*, DuWhan Alford 6.9, Adam Glanders 5.3, Ramon Johnson 2.8, Ghaneah Wayker 2.8.
Rebounds: House 7.8*, Alford 3.6, Wayker 1.9.
Assists: House 2.5*, Alford 2.0, Glanders 1.6.
Steals: House 1.3, Glanders 1.3, Alford 1.2.
* — Denotes also led last season’s team overall.