The Botkins boys basketball program has changed several faces since it won the Division IV state title last March.
Some important players, most notably point guard Jayden Priddy-Powell, graduated. The head coach, Sean Powell, left to become head coach at Lima Bath.
But the mission hasn’t changed. Jacob Pleiman and Carter Pleiman aren’t letting the team rest on last year’s accomplishment.
“We talk about it a little bit, but when it’s time to go, we go,” Jacob Pleiman said after Sunday’s 61-57 victory over Springfield Shawnee in the Elk Elite Showcase at Centerville High School. “We don’t try and dwell on that. We know we have a big target on our back, so we just come out and play every night like we do.”
The Trojans are unbeaten through seven games. Jacob Pleiman, a 6-foot-6 senior who recently surpassed 1,000 points, plays the same role as the team’s big man in the middle. His brother Carter, a 6-5 junior, has moved to point guard to replace Priddy-Powell, who now plays at NAIA Concordia in Ann Arbor, Mich. New starters are senior guards Jameson Meyer and Jaydon Wendel and forward Dylan Topp.
The biggest change, however, is new head coach Phil Groves. He previously coached in the boys program before being the girls head coach the past three seasons.
“I had a really good relationship with all these guys,” Groves said. “I taught them in junior high and then again as juniors in chemistry. So it was a really smooth transition for me.”
Jacob Pleiman said the team was happy it didn’t have to get used to a coach it didn’t know.
“Everyone loved Powell,” he said. “He’s great and left on a good note. Groves came in and we do a lot of the same stuff. He’s made the transition really easy for us.”
Groves is equally happy to be coaching the team.
“They’re a great group of kids,” he said. “They’re resilient. I’ve never seen a group of kids that it’s so much fun to practice and work with. No negativity. They’re always picking up each other up – just great teammates.”
Playing Shawnee, a Division III regional finalist last year with three returning starters, gave the Trojans a taste of what tournament basketball will be like again.
“Games like this really prepare you for the tournament,” Groves said. “Even on a Sunday afternoon it was still like a tournament atmosphere. They’re a really, really good team. To play a quality opponent like that on your nonleague schedule only makes us better in the long run.”
And the long run – another run at state – is motivating the Trojans.
“One makes you good, two makes you a legend,” Jacob Pleiman said. “That’s what we think.”
Assist record: Dayton Christian junior point guard Brady Woodall set the school’s single-game assist record with 14 in a 71-34 victory over Miami Valley School on Friday. Woodall also scored 12 points for the Warriors, who are 6-1 and 2-1 in the Metro Buckeye Conference.
Scoring record: Troy senior Macie Taylor set the school’s career scoring record when she scored 21 points in a 52-50 victory over Vandalia Butler on Dec. 15. Taylor, who has signed to play at Wright State, surpassed the 30-year-old record of 1,127 points held by Julia Reel-Niles. The Trojans lead the Miami Valley League’s Miami Division at 6-1.
Moving up the list: Yellow Springs senior Angie Smith surpassed her sister recently to become the second-leading scorer in school history and is closing in on the record. Smith is at 1,620 points, dropping Elizabeth Smith, who graduated in 2017, to second place. Evin Wimberley is the career leader with 1,760 points. Smith is averaging 22.9 points for the Bulldogs (7-3, 3-0 MBC).