ELKHART — Many high school boys basketball coaches have to be jealous of Elkhart Christian basketball coach Chad Hibbard.
Height can be hard to find and that's not a problem this year for the Eagles.
That added size is one reason ECA could be one of the most improved local teams.
The Eagles finished 9-14 last year, with a six-game losing streak to finish the season.
"We have a significant amount of height this year," said second-year ECA coach Chad Hibbard.
Providing opponents with difficult matchups will be 6-foot-7 senior Seth Jachimiak, 6-4 senior Luke Burns, 6-4 junior Noah Hunt and 6-2 sophomore Matt Burns.
"With those four alone we'll have a lot of nice height, length and versatility out there on the court," Hibbard said.
Jachimiak is back after missing most of last season with a rare disease to both knees.
"It was pretty major," Hibbard said about Jachimiak's health. "He had a procedure done on both knees. He's finally feeling good and I'm excited to have him for his senior year. Hopefully, he'll be able to have a great finish to his high school career."
Burns averaged 11 points a game last year and was the Eagles' top scorer.
"Luke Burns was a great player for us last year," Hibbard said.
Matt Burns is a Penn High School transfer.
"He tore his ACL a year ago," Hibbard said about the former Kingsmen product. "He's been fully cleared and he'll have full eligibility right off the bat for us, which is really nice. He'll make an immediate impact. He knows how to play bigger than he is."
ECA also appears to have depth and talent in the backcourt, where junior Bryce Coursen (9.4 ppg.), senior Charlie Maxwell and junior Bryce Schrock return.
"Honestly, I can't tell you who's going to start because all three have starting capability," Hibbard said. "Coursen is a great shooter. Maxwell is more of a point guard, He's got explosive speed, quickness and athleticism. Schrock swung between junior varsity and varsity last year. He got enough varsity minutes for you to feel that it's not brand new to him. He's one of those kids you love to have as a coach. Bryce is not the fastest, quickest or most athletic, but he knows what needs to be done on the court. Gritty and tough are part of his personality."
Another guard that might see varsity time is junior transfer Matthew Elmerick.
"He's played on various home schooled teams," Hibbard said about Elmerick. "Matt is only like 5-9, but he's a tremendous athlete and a fantastic shooter and ball-handler. He gives us even more depth at the guard position.
"I feel like we have a really solid eight-man rotation. I'm excited to have that kind of depth."
Hibbard hopes a new year brings better execution on both ends of the court.
"We weren't consistent last year on defense," Hibbard said. "That's a big priority. I believe we can be good defensively, but we have to be committed on that end. I'm pleased so far with our progress there.
"The second important thing is just playing well together. I saw better signs this summer. I don't want guys to be individuals out there. I'd love for us to function well as a unit on offense. If we share the ball I think we can be really tough."
Execution should improve with the players having a year of experience learning Hibbard's system.
"As the season starts you can tell a big difference," Hibbard said. "The guys have a little bit more understanding of what to expect. When you name a drill they know what it is now. You don't have to give them an explanation of the drill.
"There's a hard transition with a new coach. A few players struggled to buy in last year. Kids have bought in this year and are committed to what we're trying to do."
Hibbard would be disappointed if his team doesn't improve on last year's record.
"I definitely see us being able to have a winning record and competing for a sectional championship," Hibbard said. "I'm not say we're the favorite, but we have as good a shot as anybody to win the sectional."
This will be ECA's last year as an independent, as next year the Eagles will join the six-team Hoosier Plains Conference with Argos, South Bend Trinity, Bethany Christian, South Bend Career Academy and Lakeland Christian Academy.
"That will be good," Hibbard said. "I'm excited about that. It's something else for the boys to play for next year."
Coach: Chad Hibbard, second year