Trotwood-Madison High School boys basketball coach Rocky Rockhold hugs Rams assistant coach Tony Clemens after the Rams beat Columbus South 77-73 in the Division II state championship game at the Ohio State University Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Delayed start just fine with Trotwood-Madison boys basketball coach

“Honestly, I’m not even sure that was the best team we took there,” reflected Rams basketball coach Rocky Rockhold. “It felt good and it was so special and so important. We have been such a powerhouse in football and in basketball and we had been good enough. To finally get it done, it felt special.”

»» RELATED: All-Area football teams

Trotwood, in the midst of another deep football playoff run, as usual will delay its boys basketball season for a week. Most other area teams open their boys basketball seasons this week. Girls basketball opened last week.

A multitude of boys coaching changes and returning high profile players have ramped up preseason expectations for area boys basketball. That includes Trotwood (28-2), which swept Akron Buchtel and Columbus South to win a Division II state title at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center last season. That was the Rams’ third straight and fourth state final four appearance since 2014.

»» RELATED: Trotwood-Madison returns to playoff form

Missing from that formidable Trotwood lineup is D-II state player of the year Amari Davis. A high-impact freshman at Wisconsin Green Bay, Davis was the Horizon League’s first freshman of the week this month.

Returning Trotwood starters are 6-foot-3 senior Carl Blanton Jr. (18.3 points) and 6-2 senior Sammy Anderson (10.5). Another key returner is 5-10 senior Keon’tae Huguely (7.3). All are starters on the Rams’ football team, too.

»» GIRLS HOOP: Fairmont defeats nationally ranked team

Like Trotwood, Anna, Marion Local, Mechanicsburg and Springfield also will have delayed starts to their boys basketball seasons. All those schools are playing in this weekend’s football state semifinals.

“We absolutely embrace it,” Rockhold said. “It’s a great time in our building. The beauty of it is the guys who are performing the best right now for football are also basketball guys who we’re going to count on and that makes it exciting. These are guys who know how to win and that’s something you can’t teach.”

»» RELATED: Cin. Wyoming QB derails Valley View

Trotwood will open the boys basketball season on Tuesday, Dec. 10 against visiting Lebanon.

• There are at least 28 new head coaches. That includes Steve Pittman (Beavercreek), Charlie Szabo (Chaminade Julienne), Kenny Molz (Fairmont) and Kelven Moss (Fenwick).

A Beavercreek alum, Pittman succeeds Mark Hess, who resigned after five seasons to succeed Paul Bremigan at Troy. Pittman previously was the head coach at Ponitz and had a long run as an assistant with current Middletown head Darnell Hoskins.

»» PHOTOS: Valley View vs. Cin. Wyoming, D-IV regional final

Szabo was promoted to succeed Joe Staley, who led CJ the last 34 seasons. Staley retired with 452 wins, all at CJ. Among his players was Szabo, a 1998 CJ grad.

Molz left Monroe to succeed Blair Albright, who resigned after six seasons. Molz also is a Fairmont grad.

Moss, the Miami University Hamilton men’s coach the last three seasons, succeeds Pat Kreke, who was not retained after 29 seasons and 380 wins at Fenwick. Allen Mack also retired after a great 27-season run and 400-plus wins at Miami East. He is succeeded by Justin Roeth.

»» RELATED: Trotwood overcomes Badin in second half

• Two big-time players to watch are 6-10 senior center Mo Njie of Centerville and Shawn Phillips, a 6-10 center at Belmont. Njie (8.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.5 blocks) had a breakout junior season for the Elks (22-6), who fell to eventual D-I state champ and unbeaten Cincinnati Moeller in a regional final.

Phillips is a move-in from Michigan who owns offers from Ohio State, West Virginia and Xavier and has drawn interest from many other programs, including Kentucky and Dayton.

»» PHOTOS: Badin vs. Trotwood-Madison, regional final football

• The 18th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop is set for Jan. 17-20 at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. The midseason event has a lineup of 36 teams and 20 games, including Beavercreek vs. Carroll girls.

• Xenia grad Samari Curtis, Ohio’s Mr. Basketball last season, has appeared in all seven games as a freshman at Nebraska (4-3).

»» RELATED: Southwest District football top honors

»» RELATED: All-Southwest District football teams

»» RELATED: Final football power rankings

»» RELATED: MAC teams state poll champs

»» SOCIAL MEDIA: You should like Marc Pendleton on Facebook and Twitter

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