Eagles upbeat despite losses


Last season will be a hard act to follow for Centennial.

The Eagles shared the county championship with Hammond at 10-4 and posted their all-time best overall record of 18-6. It was the school's first county boys basketball title. Centennial advanced as far as the Class 3A, Region III finals before losing to Walbrook, 50-38.

But the Eagles have graduated four starters, including Player of the Year Damian Biggs.

Furthermore, Centennial is missing six potential varsity players who played junior varsity last season. Two moved, two decided to concentrate on other sports and two are ineligible due to disciplinary reasons.

"A couple of those players could have started for us," said Eagles coach Jim Hill, who nevertheless remains optimistic that this year's team can challenge for another county title.

One big reason for optimism is returning 6-1 swing man Seann Jones, who averaged 8.5 points and five rebounds despite missing a lot of time with an injured ankle. Jones is a tremendous jumper who can rebound and drive as well as anyone on his team.

Jones, who averaged 12.5 as a sophomore, could step forth as one of the league's premier players and ease the loss of Biggs.

David Hudson, a 6-0 senior forward, returns with a 7.5 scoring average and five rebounds per game from a sixth-man role last season. He can drive and is extremely active on the court.

Point guard Kurt Weitzel saw playing time as a reserve point guard and shooting specialist last season. The senior has three-point shooting range and handles the ball well.

Kevin O'Connor will start at center. At 6-4, the junior is a strong rebounder.

Two other returnees are senior guard Joe Mellendick, who has three-point shooting ability, and senior swing man Will Latta.

Up from the junior varsity are some talented players, such as sophomore point guard Brian West, the quickest player on the team. A broken shin caused him to miss half of last season. He drives well.

Junior center Jeff Windish at 6-4 brings with him from the junior varsity averages of eights points and seven rebounds. The 215-pounder is an aggressive rebounder.

Bernie Dennison, a 6-3, 205-pound junior forward, also moves up from the junior varsity.

And Curtis Mitchell, a junior guard who averaged 11 points, also makes the jump from the JV team.

Four players new to the program should help.

Rob Haye, a 6-foot-1 senior from Georgia, is given a good shot to start for this team at center or forward.

Arron Pighee, a senior forward from the Midwest will provide muscle inside. He's also one of three left-handers on the team along with Jones and Windish.

Dwayne Harris is an inexperienced 6-5 junior center who can jump. And Paul Solomon is a junior guard who didn't play last year.

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