boys_basketball_150With the December chill in full force outside, local gyms have already started to simmer, and this week marks for the first full week of Midwest Athletic Conference action on the boys’ hardwood with Friday’s game of the week unfolding in Darke County when the New Knoxville Rangers take on the Versailles Tigers.  As one of the top choices to capture the MAC title later this season, the Tigers have started the season with a pair of victories over New Bremen and Covington and look to move to 2-0 in league play when the Rangers come to visit on Friday.  “We had a great following on the road last week and figure it will grow bigger at home on Friday,” commented Tiger head coach Scott McEldowney.  “New Knoxville is very well-coached, and they bring a tremendous amount of skill to the table.  They can beat you inside, off the dribble, and from behind the arc, so it will be a great challenge for our defense.  We must control them off the dribble and use our size advantage to win the war on the boards – it should be a great contest.”

Head coach Kort Fledderjohann’s Rangers have also enjoyed a solid start to the 2013-14 campaign, despite losing their opener to Fort Loramie.  Since then, the Rangers have notched a pair of wins over Waynesfield-Goshen and by two points over Anna last Saturday.  Juniors Jalen Fullenkamp and Andrew Arnett have averaged double-digits to begin the year, while seniors Isaac Kuntz and Ryan Lageman are hitting around eight points-per-game.  Fledderjohann understands the challenge his squad faces in their MAC opener this week.  “Versailles poses some real issues for us – we do not have a lot of size, so handling how physical they are and rebounding with them will be an issue,” he emphasized.  “We have to make sure we do not turn the ball over and get back on defense, while the other key is trying to limit their penetration offensively. They are a great passing team and have a lot of success getting into the paint and passing to the low blocks for easy baskets.   For us offensively, we will have to attack the basket and work for good shots and make them play defense in order to leave there with a victory.”

by Robb Hemmelgarn