HOLMES TOWNSHIP – The Wynford Royals may have to change their name to the Sharpshooters.
A year after shooting 40 percent from 3-point land, the Royals return a pair of shooters who topped that mark.
Seniors Braxton Tea and Alex Crall will be looking to light up the nets more than the NBA Jam video game. Tea shot 42 percent from deep while averaging 11.4 points a game – Crall shot 43 percent and averaged 13.2 points a night.
Between the pair, they connected on 97 long balls. Crall was a second team all-N10 player a year ago and Tea earned an all-N10 honorable mention.
“We have guys that can shoot the ball,” Wynford coach Jason Engel said. “We also have some nice post players that can score inside.”
The post will be manned by the one-two punch of James Ort and Nate Sparks. The pair dominated defensive lines together in football and will take their physicality to the hardwood in hopes of controlling the paint. Ort averaged four points and three rebounds a night. He shot 57 percent from the field — top five in the Northern 10.
Sparks is a 6-foot-7 load of a post player. He averaged three points a game and shot 75 percent from the field.
“We are a scrappy and physical group,” Engel said. “We have to play smart and rebound the basketball.”
Rebounding was a problem for the Royals a year ago. They finished third to last in the N10.
Junior Zach Hoffman will be the floor general at point guard. He averaged three points, three assists and two rebounds as a sophomore. Juniors Jordan Creel, Trey Stone and Jack Reed round out the Wynford roster. Reed averaged two points a night.
The Royals lost five players to graduation. Wynford will miss Hunter Miller and his 11 points and four assists a night. Austin Shutler and his eight points a night are gone as well as Keaton Teynor’s 5.3 points per game.
“We hope to improve every day and play as one unit,” Engel said. “It would be ideal if we could peak at tournament time. The N10 will be strong. There are a lot of good teams with some great coaches who will have their guys ready to go. We will work hard to get where we want to be.”
Engel comes to Wynford from Defiance Ayersville where he spent time as its junior varsity coach. The Mohawk grad is in the head coaching job of his career. He is already working to establish a new mentality among his players.
“My first day at Wynford, when I was introduced and met my players, I had a playbook, program and other handouts,” Engel said. “I had the numbers 60.7 points per game and 62.7 points allowed highlighted. We need to emphasize defense and every possession matters.”
He is also working to establish a new culture he has lived his life by.
“One of the things we have tried to get the kids to believe in is family,” Engel said. “Do everything as a family. Hang out together, do homework together, go to church together and play together. Family is very important to me and our basketball team.”