Swanton boys basketball will need to replace its top three scorers, as the Bulldogs look to improve on last season’s 11-13 record.
Lost to graduation are Randy Slink and Jared Wilson, who each averaged 12 points per game, and Hunter Mix, who scored 9.2 per game. Slink and Wilson were each second team All-NWOAL and honorable mention in District 7.
Also gone are Dylan Gilsdorf and Dean Croskey. Gilsdorf was honorable mention all-league and in District 7 after recording 5 points and 3 assists per game.
The Bulldogs do, however, return two key players from last year’s squad – junior Andrew Thornton and Josh Vance. Thornton, a forward, averaged 8 points and 5 rebounds per game last season and was named honorable mention in District 7.
Vance, a guard, scored 6 points per game and added 2 assists.
“Andrew Thornton and Josh Vance bring two years of varsity experience and a strong understanding for our system,” said Swanton coach Joel Visser. “For us to reach the goals we are capable of we need to be able to lean on them to score and lead our team both on and off the (court). Josh and Andrew are high basketball IQ players and are very coachable on the court. They bring it every day when they come to practice and I look forward to their hard work paying dividends for us this season.”
Senior Justyn Barlett also returns at guard for the Bulldogs.
“Justyn Bartlett was a good sixth man for us down the stretch last season and began to get his feet wet with becoming a varsity basketball player,” said Visser, who has a career record of 47-47. “He has great lateral quickness and is our best on ball defender. He is a very good catch and shoot guy with the skill set defensively to be the best defender in the NWOAL.”
Other returning letter winners are senior center Jake Crow and senior forward Brendan Keith.
Newcomers with a chance to make their mark on the varsity roster include juniors Trent Weigel, guard; Blake Szalapski, forward; Anthony Duarte, forward; Corey Becker, guard; and Brendan Pelland, guard.
Visser sees team defense and depth as strengths for the season. He said the Bulldogs will need to establish leadership and find chemistry with a young team.
“We are very young, raw but also talented,” he said. “If our players are willing to accept their roles and we can find some good team chemistry we will be a very competitive basketball team this season.”
Swanton is at Lake to begin the season this Friday.