BROOKVILLE — Hitting the ground running, new head coach Dalton Park has his Brookville Raiders basketball team grinding toward its tip-off tournament opener against Moniteau Friday.
Park, a longtime coach and assistant in the program, replaced Kevin Wolfe mid-summer. The 1987 BAHS graduate takes over a D9 Class 3A runner-up team coming off a 12-12 season, losing just over half of its scoring to graduation.
“We’re trying to see who we are again,” Park said. “I’ve coached them before and they’re familiar with what I’ve done in the past, but there’s an adjustment to what they’re used to back to the way I coach. We didn’t have that summer to get to know that. Then you throw that mix into everything else and they have to get accustomed to me. I’m more of a drill sergeant guy and there’s an adjustment to that, a new adjustment to get accustomed to.”
It’s not a big junior varsity/varsity roster with 15 players, most of those underclassmen with just a trio of seniors with limited varsity experience. It’ll be a challenge with a smallish roster and Park will dress all 15 for varsity.
“The key to the season if we can sell ourselves on and commit to defense,” Park said. “I know a lot of coaches say that, but that really has to be the case for us. We have limited numbers, so we have to hold teams down and stay in the game and not get in foul trouble. A lot of time, that’s just because of lack of playing good defense. Offensively, we’ll be OK, but that attack mode doesn’t always come unless we’re playing good defense, so the offense feeds off the defense. Hopefully, the defense sets the tone and get us to start playing that way.
“After that, it’s a lot of who can step up and help us. The potential is there.”
Junior Bryan Dworek and sophomore Aaron Park, the coach’s son, earned postseason recognition last year. The duo virtually shared the team lead in scoring, with Dworek with the slight edge at 9.6 points per game. He also led the Raiders in steals (3.0 spg.) while shooting 48 percent from the field.
“That’s a pretty good foundation to start with,” Park said. “You have a quick guard who can run up and down the field and not get tired. I thought Bryan stepped up and showed he could carry a load by himself (with Aaron Park out with an injury in the D9 final loss to Karns City). He almost carried the team to the win and they had a chance at the end and that’s all you can ask. I’m really looking forward to seeing him do that from the beginning this year and playing that way. He’s too good and works too hard to not expect to see that.”
Park’s varsity debut as a freshman was impressive and he garnered the D9Sports.Com Rookie of the Year after scoring 9.5 points per game and leading the team in rebounding (6.3) and assists (3.5) while shooting 56 percent from the field.
“Aaron can go outside to compliment Bryan’s quickness or post up someone inside, so with that flexibility, it gives us a lot of things we can do,” Coach Park said. “It makes it easier to fill in the others to slot in for some minutes, fit in the puzzle pieces from there.”
Dworek will start at point guard with Park starting at power forward.
From there, junior Trent Gilhousen will start at forward. He scored six points per game off the bench, shooting a team-best 57 percent while grabbing 3.1 rebounds per game.
“I thought the minutes Trenton gave last year were very good. I’m really looking for him to help with that foundation,” Park said. “He can play inside or outside and moves well without the ball and handle it with both hands. Those guys are hard to find. He’s a very important player.”
Seniors Nick Keth (3.0 ppg.) and A.J. Lachnicht saw varsity time, Keth at guard and the 6-foot-4 Lachnicht inside at forward/center. They’ll fit into the playing rotation while Park looks to get contributions from juniors Brady Caylor, Tyler Ohls, Dane Lyle and Addison Singleton.
Caylor led last year’s JV team in scoring and will work into the rotation and guard and perhaps small forward. Ohls and Lyle are guards while Singleton works for playing time at forward. Senior Zion Alexander is also a forward on the depth chart.
Sophomore guards Bryce Baughman and David Cable, and forwards Cam Hooven and Logan Byerly will certainly get junior varsity minutes if not some varsity action as the season goes on. Byerly is 6-foot-5 and could give the Raiders some physicality inside.
“He’s not afraid to mix it up but for a kid playing up, that’s the first thing you’re looking for,” Park said. “He’ll be a little green on offense, but on defense and rebounding he’s not intimidated by anyone.”
Jack Krug had an impactful season as a freshman in varsity football and he’ll dress for the Raiders during the basketball season. He’ll be challenging for varsity minutes as well.
“If you saw him on the football field, the physical ability puts him in the running. He mentally made it through football season at quarterback so right now it’s a matter of getting experience and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can turn into by the end of the year.”
Park feels it’s that way for anyone on his roster, pointing again to the potential.
“I have a base and I’d like to see competition out of those juniors, sophomores and freshman for the extra minutes we’re going to need,” Park said. “I never count out any of these kids. If someone works hard, you never know. Any has the ability step up. Each one is missing one part of their game that keeps them from getting more minutes, but there’s no reason they can’t improve on that part as the season goes on.”
Park has former head coach Bud Baughman as his lead assistant.
“It’s convenient to have a D9 Coach of the Year on your staff,” Park said. “I can learn from him as we navigate through the season.”
The staff that also includes volunteer assistants Jared Heschke, Jeff Lachnicht and Jeff Caylor.
Seniors: A.J. Lachnicht, Zion Alexander, Nick Keth.
Juniors: Bryan Dworek, Trenton Gilhousen, Brady Caylor, Tyler Ohls, Dane Lyle, Addison Singleton,
Sophomores: Aaron Park, Bryce Baughman, David Cable, Cam Hooven, Logan Byerly.
Freshman: Jack Krug
8-Tip-Off Tournament vs. Moniteau, 7:30 p.m.
9-Tip-Off Tournament vs. Union or Brockway, TBA
15-Elk Co. Catholic
22-at St. Marys
29-at DuBois Holiday Tournament vs. DuBois CC, 6 p.m.
30-at DuBois Holiday Tournament vs. DuBois or Brockway, TBA
29-at Redbank Valley
6-at Elk Co. Catholic
— Junior varsity begins at 6 p.m. with varsity to follow with exception of tournament schedules.