MEMBERS OF THE ANTWERP HIGH SCHOOL 2017-18 varsity basketball team are, front row from left – managers Landon Brewer, CJ Eaton, Ben Savina; second row – Jayvin Landers, Blake Schuette, Divyne East, Boston Dunderman, Ashton Barnhouse, Brett Fulk, Austin Chirgwin; back row – Head Coach Doug Billman, Varsity Assistant Coach Shawn Brewer, Luke Brewer, Brayton Stuckey, Keaton Altimus, Cole Seslar, Ty Rebber, Jake Ryan, JV Coach Jason Hormann, Freshman Coach Boston Hormann. Kelly Pracht/Paulding County Progress
MEMBERS OF THE ANTWERP HIGH SCHOOL 2017-18 varsity basketball team are, front row from left – managers Landon Brewer, CJ Eaton, Ben Savina; second row – Jayvin Landers, Blake Schuette, Divyne East, Boston Dunderman, Ashton Barnhouse, Brett Fulk, Austin Chirgwin; back row – Head Coach Doug Billman, Varsity Assistant Coach Shawn Brewer, Luke Brewer, Brayton Stuckey, Keaton Altimus, Cole Seslar, Ty Rebber, Jake Ryan, JV Coach Jason Hormann, Freshman Coach Boston Hormann. Kelly Pracht/Paulding County Progress
By JOE SHOUSE

Progress Sports Writer

ANTWERP – The Antwerp Archers enter the 2017-18 basketball season with many uncertainties. Coming off a season that saw just eight wins against 15 loses, second year head coach Doug Billman returns three letter winners along with another 10 or so fighting for a varsity roster spot.

Antwerp finished at the bottom of the Green Meadows Conference standings with a 1-6 mark and hopes to put the pieces together for a better outcome this campaign.

Returning are three players who saw action at the varsity level including 5-11 Luke Brewer, 6-1 Keaton Altimus, and 6-1 Cole Seslar. The trio combined for 14 points per outing along with seven rebounds and four assists.

“Obviously we lack varsity experience. We need to develop as a team but we need that go-to scorer. With the graduation of Matt Jones, we lost a proven go-to player who would get his points. That’s what we are seeking for at this time,” said Billman.

Also graduated from a year ago along with Jones (15 points per game) are Brandon Pendergrast, Trey Mills, Matt Dooley, Hunter Noel along with Dylan Peters. The six averaged a combined 34 points per game.

“We are young with no seniors and so we need to improve everyday. Right now we are focusing daily on becoming better leaders and becoming comfortable with each other,” said Billman.

Several individuals with limited varsity experience, but who managed to see playing time on the junior varsity a year ago, include seven juniors and two sophomores.

Returning is big man Ty Rebber, who stands 6-5. A potential post player for Billman, Rebber has the ability to to blossom into a solid player in the middle.

Joining Rebber will be Brayton Stuckey, another junior at 6-2. Stuckey is coming off a solid football season and will make his presence known in the paint.

A couple additional six-footers will look for playing time as the Archers sort out their starting line up. Jake Ryan, a 6-1 junior, and Ashton Barnhouse, also a junior, will be available to mix it up in the middle.

Rounding out the junior class are Brett Fulk at 5-10, Divyne East at 5-11, and Austin Chirgwin. Fulk will challenge the post players for playing time while East and Chirgwin will be counted on for play at the perimeter.

“I think we are a team that is a work in progress, but based on our effort and energy so far in the preseason, this will be a team that will achieve its full potential,” commented Billman.

Two sophomores will make a push of the upperclassmen to get their share of playing time. Blake Schuette and Jayvin Landers, both standing at 6-0, played junior varsity as freshmen last year. Schuette is a solid player who can play inside and out on the perimeter. Landers will bring a dangerous shooting eye and a legitimate threat behind the arc as well as solid ball handling.

“This team has an excellent work ethic and our defense looks to be solid at this point. We have some length and several players that can play multiple positions,” said the Archer mentor.

When looking at the upcoming season and particularly the GMC, Billman gives the early nod to Hicksville and Wayne Trace as the favorites.

“Hicksville returns a strong nucleus from last year’s successful team. Wayne Trace returns some great size and athleticism and will battle for the top spot,” said Coach Billman.

The coach concluded that from top to bottom the league looks to be balanced and ultra competitive.

“We have a unique situation, in which we have no seniors on our team, so along with figuring out our offensive and defensive strengths, we are also trying to mold some leadership with our kids. We have absorbed and bought into some concepts and new ideas that will provide a solid foundation for season and our program,” concluded Billman.

The Archers opened the season on the road on Dec. 2 at county rival Paulding, followed by a Dec. 8 contest at Fort Jennings. The blue-and-white will be at home on Saturday, Dec. 9 when they entertain Edon.