All 5 starters return for an optimistic Badger group

Badger begins by hosting Pymatuning Valley.

2017-18 Badger Boys’ Basketball Preview
Head Coach: Josh Upshire
Record: 12-11

More:High School Basketball previews from other teams

The Good News
“We’re expecting a big year,” states coach Josh Upshire. “We return all five of our starters and our full 8 player (rotation) from last year’s 12-win team.” The squad will be led by junior Aiden Miller – who paced the Braves a year ago by scoring 16.3 points while shooting 31.8% of his three-point attempts (28-88). Miller also hauled down 5.9 rebounds and dished out 1.5 assists last season. Senior Logan Popovich put together a solid stat line of 11.5 points, 3.5 assists, 2.9 steals, 2.9 rebounds as he led the team with a 71.4% free throw percentage (55-77). Popovich also hoisted the most three-point attempts (129) while sinking a team-high 38 trey’s (29.5%). From Miller’s junior class emerge Jacob Eucker (8.1 ppg, 2.2 apg) and Keith Barto (5.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), both will be counted on this season to continue to contribute to the success of the Braves’ program. Sophomore Logan Lendak averaged 5.8 points as a freshman as he also pulled down 2.8 boards and saw his assist per game average fall just under 2-a-game (1.9). Senior Bobby Myers and junior Curtis Houser each tallied a 2.8 scoring average to go along with 3.2 rebounds. “A strength of ours,” indicates Upshire. “is our want to get better as a team. The guys have shown up to everything this summer and have bought in.”

2017-18 Schedule
Dec. 1 – Pymatuning Valley, 7
Dec. 5 – at Bloomfield, 7
Dec. 8 – Mathews, 7
Dec. 12 – at St. John
Dec. 15 – at Maplewood, 7
Dec. 19 – at Lordstown, 7
Dec. 22 – Heartland Christian, 7
Dec. 27 – at Campbell Memorial, 7
Jan. 2 – Bristol, 7
Jan. 5 – at Grand Valley, 7
Jan. 9 – Southington, 7
Jan. 12 – at Pymatuning Valley, 7
Jan. 16 – Bloomfield, 7
Jan. 19 – at Mathews, 7
Jan. 24 – at Newbury, 12:15
Jan. 27 – Mineral Ridge, 7:30
Jan. 30 – at Windham, 7
Feb. 2 – Grand Valley, 7
Feb. 6 – at Heartland Christian, 7
Feb. 13 – Maplewood, 7
Feb. 16 – Lakeview, 7
Feb. 23 – TBA

Challenges
It’s been an uphill climb for Badger basketball in recent memory. The Braves last completed a playoff run with at least two wins back in 2002 – the last time Badger advanced to the Regionals by topping Warren JFK, 55-50, in the Division III Hubbard District championship. Over the course of the last 12 years (2006-2017), the Braves have won a total of two post-season games.

Coach Upshire points to his team’s strength as concerning. “We’ve been in the weight room this summer two to three times per week to get stronger.”

Last 10 Years
Overall Winning Percentage: 33.5% (70-139)
League Championships: None
Playoff Record: 2-10
Sectional Championships: None
District Championships: None

2016-17 Team Stats
Scoring Offense: 56.5
Scoring Defense: 57.2
Rebounding: 32.4
Field Goal Percentage: 36.8%
Three-Point Percentage: 28.4%
Free Throw Percentage: 61.1%
Turnovers: 18.9

2016-17 Results
Windham 57 Braves 47*
Braves 59 Conneaut 45
Lordstown 63 Braves 57 OT
Braves 75 Bloomfield 19
Braves 83 Nexus Academy 59
Grand Valley 69 Braves 47
Windham 67 Braves 61
Braves 57 Mineral Ridge 54
Maplewood 72 Braves 43
Braves 51 Newbury 49
Braves 60 Mathews 44
Braves 68 Bloomfield 37
Pymatuning Valley 72 Braves 57
Braves 62 Southington 60
Grand Valley 60 Braves 45
Bristol 76 Braves 35
Braves 69 St. John 60
Braves 44 Lordstown 39
Maplewood 72 Braves 37
Braves 80 Heartland Christian 57
Braves 60 Mathews 58
Southington 61 Braves 58
Pymatuning Valley 66 Braves 45
*-Playoff

AP Rankings
Last game vs. Top 10 team: vs. #6 Bristol, loss, 91-54 on January 18, 2013
Record vs. Top 10 teams since Jan. 2013: 0-1

Key Number
Just last year, the Braves saw an increase in wins from 6 in 2015-16 to 12 victories.

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