Beau Scott is not afraid to let his team dream of that big season.
Following Waldron’s first winning season since 2015, the Mohawks are primed for a breakout year in Scott’s fourth season in charge.
Waldron finished 12-11 last season and produced a stunning victory in the championship game of the Shelby County Tournament on its home floor. In addition, the Mohawks had front-row seats to a girls basketball program that went 24-2, earned a No. 1 ranking in the state coaches poll and won sectional and regional titles.
“Looking back at the county tournament last year, it was definitely motivation for us,” said Scott, 24-44 in his first three seasons at Waldron. “It was in our building. The girls won right before us. The girls’ success last year was a cool experience for the community to live through that. The guys want to be next.”
With seniors Bryce Yarling (20.4 points per game last season) and Lucas Mitchell (17.3 ppg) returning, Waldron knows it can keep up offensively with most teams.
Two seniors were lost to graduation -- Bryant Becker and Caden Sheaffer -- but a deep underclassmen class makes the program stronger as does the addition of Shelbyville transfer Keith Settles.
“We’re excited,” said Scott. “Things have been going pretty well. We have good numbers (in the program). We’ve brought a lot back from last year. Winning the county tournament (again) is very important but we have a higher list of goals for sure. Our guys really want to win a sectional. That’s tough because there are a lot of good teams in (the sectional), but we believe we can.”
Scott won’t temper that belief.
“I’m encouraging it. We’re not shying away from setting that goal,” he said.
As Yarling, a five-foot, eight-inch guard, and Mitchell, a 6-5 forward, have grown as players, so has the success level of the program. Yarling averaged 16.3 ppg as a sophomore for the 5-win Mohawks. Mitchell collected 6.4 points and five rebounds per game.
As juniors, Yarling brought up his scoring, rebounding, assists and steals production. Mitchell blossomed into a legitimate scoring threat and averaged nine rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.8 blocks per game.
Now, can they be better as seniors?
“I think so,” said Scott. “Their decision making has improved. Both have added a lot to their games since last year. Bryce is staying under control all the time while Lucas can score at all three levels.
“They definitely both have improved.”
With Becker (8.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.5 apg) and Sheaffer (4 ppg, 2.4 rpg) lost to graduation, Scott will look for more production from Lucas Shaw, a 6-2 guard who started every game last season as a freshman.
“He has grown a lot physically and as a player,” said Scott. “He was sharp in our scrimmage. He won’t be physically outmatched on the floor.”
Sophomore guard Parker Douglas will move into the starting lineup to start the season.
“He had a really good offseason,” said Scott. “He plays like a mix of (Bryant and Sheaffer). He is a good ball handler and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.”
Settles, a 6-6 junior forward, will take some interior defensive pressure off Mitchell.
“He will free Lucas up to take away a good guard or good wing,” said Scott.
Seniors Sam Adkins and David Miller, juniors Sam Jones, Jacob Lindsey and Jacob Bennett and sophomore Will Larrison will offer options for Scott off the bench.
Waldron opens the season with back-to-back games Monday and Tuesday at home against Elwood (1-21 last season) and Crothersville (3-20), respectively. The Mohawks close out the holiday week with a road trip Saturday to Knightstown (7-16).
The toughest part of Waldron’s schedule kicks in after the Shelby County Tournament in early January. In fact, of the first eight games this season, only two opponents had winning records last season.
“The potential for a strong start is there,” admitted Scott.
The big early season matchup comes Dec. 3 at Edinburgh, who finished 22-4 last season and is back in the same sectional as Waldron.
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