Local Sports from The Courier
Thursday, January 10, 2013BVC Boys Basketball: Arlington rolls on
ARLINGTON -- There are plenty of familiar faces with new roles on Arlington's boys basketball team this season.
And the Red Devils haven't missed a beat.
After advancing to the OHSAA state boys basketball tournament for the first time in school history last season, the Red Devils are off to a 9-0 start.
The biggest difference between last year's team and this season's edition of the Red Devils is that all-Ohioan Thayne Recker graduated last spring and isn't in the paint scoring points and gobbling up every rebound in sight.
With the loss of Recker, there were some big shoes to fill. And it hasn't been one player filling those big shoes, it's been a team effort with a number of different players stepping up in critical situations during the current unbeaten run.
"Obviously, the loss of Thayne has made things different this year. Someone has to step up in his spot. We have to spread the ball around more," said junior post Michael Blunk.
"In our games this year, different guys have had their moments. We need all five playing together. We still have the same mindset as we did last season. We want to win the BVC and we want to get back to state."
Blunk has blossomed into one of the best inside players in the Blanchard Valley Conference. He's averaging nearly a double-double with 16.4 points and 9.8 rebounds per game.
"My role is to do a lot of the things Thayne did last year, be that inside presence, grab rebounds and score. Also, I have to look to get the ball back outside to our shooters," Blunk said.
"Last year, when I went in, the coaches told me to get after rebounds, play solid defense and if I scored, I scored. It's different without Thayne."
Mainly counted on as a defender a season ago, junior guard Jordan Freed has found his way as a key contributor on offense.
"There are a lot of different roles I have to play," Freed said. "Last year, I was mainly a defensive player. This year coach wants me to contribute a little more offensively, too.,"
He certainly played a key role for the Red Devils in the team's championship performance in Bluffton's Holiday Tournament last month.
Freed was an unbelievable 8 of 8 from 3-point range on his way to scoring 24 points in Arlington's win over the Pirates in the final.
"It just felt good when the ball went out of my hands and I just kept shooting it," he said. "There was one that hit the rim and bounced. I thought it was coming out but it ended up going in."
Arlington coach Jason Vermillion's teams have always played tenacious, in-your-face defense and that's one thing that hasn't changed. The Red Devils are third in the BVC in scoring defense giving up just 39.9 points per game.
"We're playing really good defense and that's kind of carried over from last year. We take defense seriously," said senior Blaiz McBride."My role is to make plays on offense and do whatever I can. On defense, I have to try and shut down their best player."
Senior point guard Andrew Hunter has also been asked to do a little bit of everything. He's averaging 13.4 points with 4.1 assists per game.
"Primarily, I handle the ball and run the offense. I get us going," Hunter said. "I try and find anyone who's open and make plays for myself and my team. I try and get everyone involved," Hunter said.
The Red Devils, who have a 13-game regular season win streak, face a couple of tough tests this weekend, battling Liberty-Benton (7-1) on Friday night and Convoy Crestview (8-1) on Saturday.
There's no doubt the Red Devils and Eagles will be pumped for their midseason BVC showdown.
"It is bigger game than most. We have to be mentally and physically ready to play Friday night. We get pumped for this game. We're always ready for it," Hunter said.
"We've been rivals and we always want to go out and beat L-B. This is a big one, and it's always a dogfight."
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