By John Miller
Even with a few key players now graduated, the expectations haven’t changed for the Lebanon Yellow Jackets.
“Our expectations are the same as every year,” said fourth-year coach Adam Thornhill, who is seven wins away from 100 in his career. “We have some experience and a lot of talented new faces. This group will be quick and capable of playing at a very fast pace, with all players capable of shooting or getting to the basket. There will be a lot of competition in all positions which we’ve not always had. The real key will be playing together, five-player coordinated basketball.”
Last season, the Yellow Jackets posted a 6-20 record, including a 3-6 record in Ozark Conference play.
Five players have graduated, leaving playing time up for grabs this season. Among the graduates was shooting guard Trent Millsap, who was named First Team All-District for his play last year.
“They are a great group of men,” Thornhill said. “They helped us in building a tough-minded blue-collar culture.”
Only two players return, but senior guard Jack Ehrhardt—a four-year varsity player—is one of them. Ehrhardt averaged 14.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game last year. He was named Honorable Mention All-Conference and First Team All-District. He’s scored 896 points in his career.
“Jack has been a huge part of our varsity team all four years,” Thornhill said. “He is able to score from the outside but specializes in scoring off the bounce. We’ll look to him to provide leadership of our young team.”
Another returner is junior Will Richardson, who averaged 5.8 points and 2.8 rebounds last year and gained valuable experience at the varsity level last season.
Newcomers will be counted on to make an impact right away, and Lebanon will turn to eight new players this year. This group of newcomers includes seniors Junior Shockley, Clayton Richerson, juniors Jalen Jones and Terron Sizemore, sophomores Max Schooler, Dawson Zimdars, and Cooper Hudson, and freshmen Quenton Shelton.
Thornhill noted that Shelton will be the team’s starting point guard.
“Quenton sees the floor exceptionally well,” Thornhill said. “He’s also very capable of scoring from deep or at the rim.”
Thornhill also expects to have big years from Jones and Sizemore.
“Jalen and Terron are athletic guards with the ability to get to the rim or shoot from the outside,” Thornhill said. “They’re both pesky defensively and could have breakout years for us.”
While the Yellow Jackets do have a young core of players, the senior presence that Ehrhardt, Shockley, and Richerson provides could be vital.
“I am very excited for the season,” Ehrhardt said. “There has been a lot of hard work and preparation for this season. We will be a very young team, but we will not lack talent. I think we will surprise some people, and I’m excited to see what we can do.”