By Chris Chaney
The Amelia Barons got off to a sluggish start to the 2011-12 basketball season and didn’t really right the ship until the calendar turned to 2012, going 1-7 in their eight games in 2011. However, with some players returning with varsity experience under their belts, head coach Craig Mazzaro believes this year will be different.
“Last year, we didn’t have any varsity experience, no returning players or anything and it took us until after Christmas before we started picking up things and doing the things we needed to do,” he said. “We had to go through a learning phase and this year we’re hoping that the learning phase is over and we’re to the winning phase now.”
That winning phase seems to have taken hold down the stretch of the season as the Barons turned their rough start into a respectable 8-4 finish in the regular season. Amelia turned around the results to both of the Southern Buckeye Conference games they lost in the first month of the year, splitting the season series with New Richmond and Goshen after losing the first time around.
Mazzaro attributed that to a learning curve that his young team had to overcome. Now, with that year of varsity experiences tucked away, the Barons return all but three players to the hardwood in 2012-13, including leading scorer Trevor Simon and a host of senior leadership.
“We have 95 percent of our scoring and rebounding back,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s automatic, but it’s better than not having any, that’s for sure.”
The Barons will suit up five seniors, but it’s a pair of juniors that could be the hinge for success this year in Simon and Tommy Hacker.
“We have two First Team All-Stars coming back,” he said. “Tommy Hacker, 6-foot-5 center who averaged about 10 points for us last year and Trevor Simon, a 6-foot-1 guard who was our leading scorer last year.”
Mazzaro said that regardless of their caliber of production the year before, everyone is going to have to go out and earn their playing time. He went on to mention some seniors he’s expecting to play big minutes in Dale Luginbuhl, Michael Crowder, Keegan Carson.
Mazzaro also expects the team to benefit from their offseason work outs, which he thinks have made a lot of players better and stronger.
As far as expectations go, Mazzaro thinks the sky is the limit.
“Last year we finished in second for the league and that was after that terrible start. I think the league is wide open and anybody can beat anybody, it’s all about who comes to play each night. We certainly expect to compete with everyone, but it’s wide open.”
The Barons kick off their season on Dec. 3 against Mount Healthy and will begin their quest for a league title a few days later on Dec. 7 when they travel to Western Brown.