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Post: Blog2_Post
  • Val T.

Argos boys basketball preview:

Updated: Nov 25, 2023

Richard, Stults are most experienced Dragons while 4 frosh await their chance


BY VAL TSOUTSOURIS

Sports Editor, RTC

J.J. Morris is no longer on the Argos basketball team.

He graduated and took his 1,231 career points to DePauw University.

Now it’s time for Sean Richard and Luke Stults to take over but with a supporting cast of four freshmen.

Argos went 66-29 with a sectional title in Morris’ four years on the varsity. Nate Manikowski, A.J. Mills and Elijah Osborn graduated with him.

This summer meant the team worked four days a week in June – two days a week by themselves and two days a week playing in scrimmages at places like Triton and Plymouth.

As coach Jason Breden starts his third season, the June work was key in carving out roles for the players replacing those that graduated.

It figures to be Breden’s youngest team at Argos. All four freshmen in the program are listed on the varsity roster.

“You could make the point that this offseason was very crucial because we had some very young guys that we needed to get up and running sooner than later,” Breden said. “And I give those young guys credit, especially the freshmen. They were showing up every day ready to work. I think they grasped what was expected and demanded of them, and so far, I think they have accepted the challenge in stride.”

Richard, a 6-2 point guard, is the only senior on this year’s team, and he might even take even more responsibility within the offense.

“He’s a solid ballhandler,” Breden said. “It’s nice when you have a guy that you can just feel safe with the ball in their hands. Like OK, if it’s in Sean’s hands, we’re in good shape. He’s a solid defender. With him being a versatile defender in size, he can guard guards, or he can guard big men if we need him to. He’s a solid rebounder and a solid passer overall, just a good solid player that we can do a lot of things through.”

Breden has noted that he has imparted his wisdom to his younger teammates.

“His leadership is one area that’s really been phenomenal this year,” Breden said. “He’s embraced that this is his team, more or less, as a senior. He’s just doing little things that have just really stood out to me, almost the most of my three years here. In between drills, he’s helping build guys up and he’s sharing little pointers to guys to help them. I’ve been very impressed with him.”

Stults, a junior forward, is Argos’ tallest player at 6-5. Argos went 6-3 over their final nine games, including two wins over rival Triton, and Breden credited Stults for much of that success.

But Breden also noted that most opponents emphasized stopping Morris, and Stults took advantage of opportunities that came as a byproduct of the attention that Morris merited. This year, Stults might have to generate his own offensive looks.

“That last month-of-the-season stretch, he probably averaged close to 15 points and eight to 10 rebounds (per game),” Breden said. “I really felt we finished the year strong due to his pure rebounding. And especially with the team we have this year, I wouldn’t say we’re oversized like maybe we’ve been in the past. So it’s going to be extremely crucial for Luke to rebound for us.

“I’m just a firm believer that rebounding solves a lot. You can have defensive breakdowns, but if a team happens to miss a shot and you can keep them to one shot with a good defensive rebound, you can limit sometimes the damage that defensive breakdowns can do.”

Hayden Hensler is the other junior in the program. He is a 6-2 forward who is in his second year at Argos.

“Now we’re expecting him to uphold our values and standards of our program,” Breden said. “I say values because he’s a great kid, a great student and a hard worker. And then standard is just our standard of play. I think he’s a guy that we’re going to really rely on to do both of thise things for us.”

The sophomores are Gabe McMillen, Mack Calhoun and Dominic Burns.

Calhoun, who stands 6-3, will be expected to rebound and add to the frontcourt depth.

Breden said McMillen and Burns will primarily be JV players, “glue guys in a good team culture.”

The freshman group consists of 5-8 guard Kenyan Beldon, 5-10 forward Fabion Olivares, 5-11 guard Mekhi Austin and 6-0 guard Zhayne Hellums.

Beldon will help with ballhandling and be a cutter off the ball while being a pesky defender as well.

Like Beldon, Austin started on Argos’ sectional championship soccer team, and Breden said he might have to help with ballhandling and defending.

Known for his steadiness, Hellums is “a great kid demeanor-wise,” according to Breden.

Breden described Olivares as “stocky” and “strong” who will help out as a screener. In his second year in the Argos schools, Breden called him “a high-character player.”

The new cast will try to reverse a defensive scoring average that went from 42.6 two years ago to 47.9 last year.

“The defensive identity of my teams is always I’m a man-to-man coach first without a doubt,” Breden said. “I’m just a firm believer that man-to-man, in my opinion, is still the best defense you can play if you can execute it and play it well. Obviously, it’s all player-dependent and opponent-dependent. So we’ve got to play to the strengths of our team. Last year, we had some good length with J.J. and Luke Stults. We also had some guys that maybe weren’t necessarily the best guarding the ball one-on-one.

“So against certain teams, we ended up playing some zone just to give us the best advantage and chance we can at being successful to win. As of right now, we’ve been working hard in our man-to-man principles. We’re trying to get up to speed in a lot of those principles. Man-to-man is always going to be the base defense at Argos. With that being said, it just comes down to personnel and more or less opponents. If we feel that playing zone or some other defense gives us the best chance to win a specific game or matchup, then we’re always open to mixing that in as well.”

Coaching changes

Former Bremen coach Jerry Smith returns to Breden’s staff as the varsity assistant. Bo Hines replaces Ian Kindig as the JV coach.

Schedule changes

Northfield (home, Dec. 20), Churubusco (home, Jan. 27) and Kouts (home, Feb. 3) are new to the schedule. They replace Fort Wayne Wayne, Peru and Tippecanoe Valley. Kouts made it to semistate last year and was the Class 1A state runner-up as recently as 2021.

The sectional returns to Triton from Feb. 27-March 2.

Class 1A, Sectional 50

ARGOS, Culver, Marquette Catholic, Oregon-Davis, Trinity Greenlawn, Triton, Westville

Schedule

Nov. 22 – at Bremen, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 1 – at West Central, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 5 – vs. LaVille, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 9 – vs. Jimtown, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 15 – vs. South Bend Career Academy, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16 – vs. Pioneer, 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 20 – at Northfield, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 2 – at Trinity Greenlawn, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 5 – at Bethany Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 9 – at North Miami, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 12 – vs. Oregon-Davis, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 16-20 – Bi-County Tournament (field includes Bremen, Culver, John Glenn, LaVille, New Prairie, Oregon-Davis, Triton)

Jan. 26 – at Lakeland Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27 – vs. Churubusco, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 1 – at Triton, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 3 – vs. Kouts, 1:30 p.m.

Feb. 6 – vs. Caston, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 8 – vs. Culver, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 13 – vs. South Central (Union Mills), 8 p.m.

Feb. 16 – at North Judson, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 23 – at Elkhart Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Feb. 27-March 2 – Class 1A, Sectional 50 at Triton





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