SR-C boys hoops: Conference titles and the best record ever

March 6, 2019

The Shelby-Rising City boys basketball put together its best season in program history going 17-7 in 2018/19.

Before this year, the best a group of Huskies had ever done was a 10-12 mark three years ago. The historic season also included a regular season title and tournament championship in the Crossroads Conference.

Three seniors, Austin Coffin, Max Hoatson and Wyatt Whitmore, say goodbye to their varsity careers but do so with a legacy that will be hard to follow.

“It was quite the accomplishment, what these seniors were a part of,” said head coach Grant Gabel. “During last year’s 8-14 season, we were close in a lot of ball games. To be able to reverse our fortunes this year and be able to have a lot of success...I’m real proud of this group.

“It’s the most successful we’ve ever had as Shelby-Rising City. “There’s a lot of things to be proud of, and a lot of things we’re still going to be hungry for. Obviously, the ending wasn’t what we wanted, but we take strides every year to get better, and hopefully the kids can use the success that we had this year to help them go even further.”

Shelby-Rising City’s memorable season came to an end after losing to No. 3 Utica Centennial in the sub-district championship. Centennial went on, won the district title and earned the No. 4 seed for the state tournament.

Though the Broncos took that result by 20 points, the Huskies were ranked at points during the season and showed glimpses of what could be ahead with continued growth.

“Now that the basketball season is over with, we’ve shown we can play in high-caliber games, championships games and be successful at that,” Gabel said. “It’s a big building block.”

Though it was a new level of success, it wasn’t a complete surprise to Gabel who said he thought with his returning group they could be a tough opponent for teams.

Much of the Huskies success came from the defensive pressure they put on opponents. That pressure led to an average of just over 42 points against.

“Our number one goal was getting the job done on the defensive end,” Gabel said. “I thought we did a great job out of our press this year. We pretty much pressed in every single game. We did a lot of good things on the defensive end.”

Coffin, Hoatson and Whitmore set the tone on that end of the court and leave behind the blueprints for the next group of leaders.

“You can’t replace those guys,” Gabel said. “When we look back hopefully we can string a couple of successful seasons together and we’re going to look back to this senior group. This senior group got the ball rolling. Finishing 17-7 as conference regular season champions was huge for the program.”

Despite the loss of that trio, Gabel hopes the Huskies can be as good if not better when players step into new roles.

“What we have coming back with Jett Pinneo, our second-leading scorer, Bailey Belt, Antonio Lopez, Alec Wieseman all have valuable experience.,” Gabel said. “I think we can be just as good, if not better with the team we have coming back.”

Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at DVDsports@lee.net