Dragons move into new conference, seek 3rd straight sectional
BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS
Sports Editor, RTC
The Argos boys basketball team repeated as Class 1A, Sectional 50 champions last year. Thanks to players like Sam Manikowski and Owen Nifong, who combined for 2,004 career points, Argos is in the midst of its most successful run of teams since the mid 2000s.
If Argos is to make it three straight sectionals or if they are to win the first Hoosier Plains Conference title, it could be argued that the torch has been passed not to the returning seniors, but the returning juniors and the lone returning sophomore.
Caleb Ellis and Colin O’Dell also graduated from the team that went 67-31 over the last four years.
Five of the nine players listed on this year’s Argos roster are juniors – Michael Richard, Teddy Redinger, Jake Stults, Dylan Kindig and Kayden Brady.
“He’s all that and more,” Argos coach Gordon Mosson said when asked if Richard was the point guard or shooting guard. “He reads the floor pretty well with his passing, and he can get to the bucket with his drive. He’s a strong kid, really mature physically. And obviously, he’s one of our better 3-point shooters, and we want him handling the ball obviously for us quite a bit and getting us into the offense, but we also look for him to score by driving and hitting some outside shots.”
Redinger has shown the ability to hit the 3-point shot and drive to the basket. Now the coaches are working with him on an intermediate game.
“Teddy’s got a little bit more physical, which we like,” Mosson said. “And again, sometimes that just comes with maturity, and it just comes with experience. He’s also developed a nice little jump shot. Before, it was a 3 or a drive and a layup. He’s developed a pullup jump shot that he’s pretty effective with. So he’s made improvements. We’re going to need some scoring and some rebounding out of him, that’s for sure.”
Stults, a 6-0 guard, is one of the more athletic players on the team, according to Mosson.
“He’s had some self-doubt with himself in the years past, and it’s just a matter of him relaxing and going out there and playing. We need him to score. He has the ability to score. … We need him to knock down some 3s, and we need him to get to the bucket, that’s for sure.”
Kindig, a 6-4 forward, has “come a long way,” according to Mosson. He’s the younger brother of 2019 Argos grad and current JV coach Ian Kindig.
“His footwork has gotten better inside with his offensive moves,” Mosson said. “He has great hands. He has big hands, but he also has very good hands. He’s developed a nice little touch around the basket with both hands, but what might be his best attribute is that he’s a great offensive rebounder. … We’re counting on having a lot more inside scoring than we’ve had in the last couple years.”
Brady, a 5-11 guard, is competing for a starting spot, according to Mosson. He played mostly shooting guard on the JV as a freshman and point guard on the JV as a sophomore.
“He’s a shooting guard who’s capable of knocking down 3s. He’s definitely in the picture. There’s no doubt about that.”
J.J. Morris, the lone sophomore who stands 6-5, is the second leading returning scorer behind Richard.
“He’s really, really worked hard,” Mosson said. “He played AAU ball in the offseason, and he went to individual workouts a lot in the offseason. When we couldn’t do anything with him, he would still go to the individual workouts with someone else. He’s got stronger. He’;s matured physically. He’s a player. He’s very versatile. We’ve got him playing a post position. We’ve got him playing a wing position. We’ve got him playing as a back-up point guard. A 6-5 point guard, that’s a rarity in high school. But he has skill to do that. He’s a leader. He’s very vocal on the court. He encourages other kids. He’s a good teammate. So we’re looking for big things out of him.”
Sean Richard, a 6-0 guard-forward, is Michael Richard’s younger brother and the lone freshman on the varsity, though Mosson said he will see a lot of JV time early in the season.
“Physically, he has a varsity body,” Mosson said. “He’s very strong. He’s thick, and he’s really aggressive. I don’t know how much he’ll score as a freshman this year, but we think he can definitely help us on the boards and help us defensively. He’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s farther along than I thought he would be at this time.”
Caden Nifong and Zak Heiman are the only two seniors. Mosson said Nifong, who is Owen Nifong’s cousin, was the best player on the JV last year, according to Mosson.
“He’s going to play quite a bit,” Mosson said. “He’s another one that can play different positions. He just has a good feel and understanding about the game. … He’s effective going to the bucket. He’s effective with his pullup. We're hoping that his 3 will come along as the season goes.”
Heiman, a regional qualifier in cross-country, came out for basketball for the first time since his freshman season. A 6-2 forward, Mosson thinks he can help on the boards.
But the calling card for Argos basketball in the Mosson era might be defense. Argos allowed only 41.5 points per game last year and just 22.3 per game in three sectional wins.
He said they will play “quite a bit” of man-to-man defense, but they can be versatile there too.
“We’ve got some nice length to us, so you’ll probably see some zone out of us this year,” Mosson said.
Argos opens the season at home against Bremen Tuesday. While historical records are somewhat unclear, the Argos-Bremen rivalry goes back at least to the 1912-13 season.
Argos has added Plymouth to the schedule. They will meet at Argos on Dec. 4.
The Hoosier Plains Conference opener is at South Bend Career Academy on Dec. 18. The conference consists of six teams. Trinity Greenlawn, Bethany Christian, Elkhart Christian and Lakeland Christian are the other four teams.
Argos has also added North Miami to the schedule for Jan. 12. Whitko and Hammond Gavit have been dropped.
Argos plays all of the teams in their sectional during the regular season except for LaCrosse. The Bell game is at Culver on Feb. 11.