Coming off a Central Buckeye Conference championship, the Northwestern boys’ basketball team will be taking the floor with some new faces this season, as coach Gerald Embry has his team preparing for the season opener December 1 against Miami East.
Gone are seniors who helped the Warriors accomplish that feat last season, and Embry knows it will take a lot of hard work to get this year’s squad to match that achievement atop the Mad River Division.
“We had a very senior dominant team last year, and we had some freshman and sophomores play with them last year, so we are just trying to fill in the missing pieces right now,” said Embry last week before they hosted a scrimmage. “We are very young and we are trying to just get everybody on the same page on both ends of the floor right now.”
Through the early preseason that saw the Warriors scrimmage Bethel and Legacy Christian, Embry was honest with his assessment on his team so far.
“We have a lot of work to do, we have all the pieces now we have just got to put it together,” he said. “It is still pretty early, but we have some good young kids and I will have two years with them.”
“We just have to come out and guard everyday, these guys need to realize that everything starts on the defensive end of the floor. If we want to be successful, we have to play defense.”
Senior Jordan Nofkee returns for the Warriors, who is back after battling injuries last season.
“He has a lot of tools and can score inside or out, the key for him is just to stay healthy,” Embry said.
Also back is senior Brock Smith who according to Embry is a hard worker and has been in the system for three years. Embry also wants Smith to continue to be a leader for the Warriors.
With only two seniors, Embry will be relying on the younger kids to step up and contribute, including junior Taveon Dennis-Miller who is in his second year of the Warriors system, and looks to contribute.
“He has learned a lot since last year,” Embry said. “He is our starting point guard, and is very quick. He could be a very good player for us when he gets comfortable out there.”
Adam Riedinger also is back as a junior after another stellar football season.
“For as big as he is, he moves well on the court and is strong inside,” the coach said. “He is a big rebounder for us.”
Cameron Smyczek has been the biggest surprise so far in the preseason according to Embry.
“He grew about two inches and has come together as a player,” he said.
Landon Burns is also a junior on the squad, as is Eli Berner.
Sophomores Jalen Minney and Ethan Farmer also are being counted on to be major contributors this season.