‘Coach on the court’ leads Shawnee past Tecumseh

D.J. Hayden used to do his job quietly while others like Aaron Schack, Billy Lord and Camden Van Velzor got the attention. Now it’s his job to be a scorer, talk a lot on the floor and lead one of the most inexperienced teams Chris McGuire has coached at Shawnee.

“It’s my job as a senior to kind of be the coach on the court and make those guys go to the right spots, be in the right spots at the right time and make the right plays,” Hayden said.

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He did plenty of that in Friday night’s Central Buckeye Conference opener at Tecumseh. Hayden scored 17 points and led his young Shawnee teammates to a 58-48 victory.

McGuire lost 85 percent of last year’s scoring to graduation. Ethan Williams and Austin Lanum are also seniors, but they didn’t play a lot off the bench last year.

“D.J. knows what it takes to win varsity basketball games, and he’s got to help teach and lead some of these other guys,” McGuire said. “Hopefully these other guys will pick it up on it quick like tonight with a really good win for us on the road.”

The Braves (1-2, 1-0 CBC) opened the season with 20-plus losses to Vandalia Butler and Chaminade Julienne. But McGuire wasn’t unhappy with his team’s effort. He got the same thing against Tecumseh with the usually strong man-to-man defense, a rebounding advantage and an offense that executed the game plan.

Hayden’s job was to work the high post against Tecumseh’s zone. He caught the ball at the foul line for several open shots and found others open along the baseline for points. Sophomore Drew Mitch led the rest of the team with 16 points.

“We thought if we could get it high post we could open some things up,” McGuire said. “And he was able to knock down some shots. When he gets in his scoring zones he’s a good shooter.”

Those open shots were a sign to Arrows coach Roger Culbertson that his team isn’t giving enough effort.

“I don’t think we contested one of his shots after he caught it in there,” he said. “He shot wide-open 15-foot jumpers all night. It’s an effort thing. Our kids have to start flying around more defensively.”

Culbertson also wasn’t happy with his team’s lack of rebounding — Shawnee grabbed nine offensive rebounds and Tecumseh one.

“Their effort was better than ours,” he said. “We only had one offensive rebound. I’m sure there were plenty of opportunities to get more than that.

The Arrows (1-2, 0-1) were led by junior Easton Lewis with 12 points, sophomore Donovan Collins with 11 and senior Drew Sarihan with 10. The Arrows’ other problem was 8-of-20 shooting from the free-throw line. They were 2-of-5 and 8-of-15 in their first two games.

“We’ve got to get better — bottom line,” said Culbertson, who is trying to mold a winner after two straight losing seasons.

The Braves know also know they have to improve if they are to approach the success of last year’s team that won two tournament games. This was a good win and inexperience is still an issue this early in the season. However, Hayden is counting on the players he is trying to lead.

“I’ve got all the confidence in the world in everybody,” Hayden said. “If we work hard all year, we’ll be really successful. I know Coach McGuire can coach us up the right way.”

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