Basketball (Boys V)

Springs Valley boys' basketball preparing for title defenses with new faces aplenty

By Auston Matricardi | Nov. 18, 2022 1:33 PM

The 2021-22 season was a special one for the Springs Valley boys’ basketball program. After two years of build-up, the Blackhawks finally broke through and delivered on the promise they’d shown by claiming a share of the Patoka Lake Athletic Conference championship and then storming to a sectional championship, winning three games by an average of 20 points to lift the trophy. Now, they’re preparing for their title defenses and they’re doing so without most of the players who competed in that sectional title game. Gone are All-PLAC selections Kannon Chase, Carter Crews, and Conner Grimes, who were also that team’s three leading scorers, as well as defensive stopper Elijah Dixon and sharpshooter Mason Chaplin. Those five players had made up the core of head coach Jonathon Bowles’ first two Springs Valley teams and without them, there are opportunities available and questions to be answered. “Honestly I kind of feel like we’re back to my first year. The only difference is that these guys are used to watching winners, they got a great example from our five seniors last year. I hope they were able to watch and see how they led, how they went about the game, and go about it the same way” Bowles said. “We don’t bring a lot of varsity experience, but we’ve got a group of juniors that went 18-2 at the JV level so I feel like we’ve got a pretty good group. “We’re back to where we didn’t have a lot of guys with varsity experience, but we feel pretty good about the guys we’ve got.” Bowles feels pretty good about who he’s got in part because they’re athletes. The junior contingency of Konner Chase, Jaheim Hamilton, Xander Cook, Larron Childers, and Mavrick Land doesn’t have a ton of varsity basketball experience — most of them at least dressed varsity last year — but they’ve all been key pieces for Springs Valley in football, baseball, or track and field. Now it’s their turn to take the lead in the basketball program alongside senior Max Pendley and while they’re up to the task, it could take them some time to settle in. “It’s a process and that’s something we’ve got to tell ourselves every day. We’d like for it to happen really fast, but ultimately we want to be our best in March and I truly feel like we’ve been able to do that the last two years,” Bowles said. “We want to continue to do that. We talk about getting one percent better every day and as long as we do that, we’ll be pretty successful.” The one Blackhawk who returns with significant playing time last season is Deion Edwards. Now a sophomore, Edwards led all non-seniors in minutes last season and was a key part of Springs Valley’s success. He averaged roughly eight points, five rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Now he’s going to be asked to do more for the Blackhawks, meaning he’ll have to work harder than ever as expectations continue to grow. “The ball kind of sits in Deion’s court. Deion’s a very talented kid, he was able to show that last year. There are a couple of games that really stand out, I think back to the Eastern (Pekin) game and how he kind of played point guard for us and led the way and we’re going to be looking for things out of him like that,” Bowles said. “He’s got to get to where he’s got the motor 24/7 and he’s working hard 24/7. That’s what we’re looking for out of him right now.” The Blackhawks will scrimmage Christian Academy at home on Saturday, then officially open the season on Tuesday when they host PLAC foe Mitchell. As they prepare for their debut, they’ll continue to focus on gradual improvement. “The biggest thing is maturity. We have to mature every single day, that’s our biggest thing,” Bowles said. “We’re depending on guys who are 15, 16 — we may have one 17-year-old who gets a lot of minutes for sure, Max is our oldest guy — and we’re going to be playing with 18-year-olds and that makes a big difference so we’ve got to grow up fast.”