Boys Basketball: After slow start, Greenon riding five-game winning streak

Cutline 1: Greenon High School senior Jaden Journell passes the ball to a teammate while being guarded by Fairbanks senior Dylan Tobe during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 4 in Enon. The Knights won 50-40. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER
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Cutline 1: Greenon High School senior Jaden Journell passes the ball to a teammate while being guarded by Fairbanks senior Dylan Tobe during their game on Tuesday, Jan. 4 in Enon. The Knights won 50-40. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MICHAEL COOPER

Credit: Name Test

Credit: Name Test

ENON — After starting the season 3-3, the Greenon High School boys basketball team regrouped.

“Those first six games, you’re still trying to figure out who you are and what you’re capable of,” said Greenon first-year coach Greg Kimball. “These guys have been together for so long. We have six seniors and they really know how to play well together. After the Shawnee game, we just came together and decided, ‘What do we want to do this year?’ They made a commitment to coming in each day and working hard, trusting the process and so far it’s worked out for us.”

The Knights haven’t lost since. Greenon (8-3) has won five straight games, including a 50-40 victory in Ohio Heritage Conference crossover action on Tuesday night against North Division-leading Fairbanks. Senior Jaden Journell had 15 points and nine rebounds, while senior Braden Ware had 11 points and senior Clayton Minteer added 10 in the win.

Defensively, the Knights forced 19 turnovers against the Panthers, which has been a key during their recent winning streak, Kimball said.

“We’re trying to get up in people more and get some more pressure,” he said. “It’s something we’re trying to get back to. Halfway through the year we’re in a little bit better shape. We’ve got some guys who played soccer and football and getting back into basketball shape takes some time. Now that they’re used to that, it’s probably something we’ll continue to look to do.”

Kimball coached the senior year class in middle school and served as a varsity assistant each of the past two seasons. When former coach Matt McCurdy resigned, Kimball was hired to take over the program in May.

The transition to head coach was seamless for Kimball after spending so much time with the players over the previous five seasons.

“The relationships were already there,” Kimball said. “They know my expectations and how I go about things. I know how they tick and how to get them moving. It’s helped out tremendously this year.”

Offensively, the Knights are spreading the ball on offense to help with their lack of height. The varsity rotation is made up of players all 6-2 and under, which is something the senior class has grown accustomed to over the years, Kimball said.

“It’s something they’ve been running since junior high, really moving and cutting and not getting stagnant,” he said. “One of our biggest things right now is that we can’t hold the ball for long stretches. If we’re moving strong and making strong cuts, good things will happen for us.”

Journell is averaging a team-high 13.4 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while Minteer is averaging 11.9 points per game. Senior Ryan Perdue is averaging 7.6 points, while Ware is averaging 7.5 ppg and senior Clay Hough is at 7.3 ppg. Senior guard Phil Welsheimer and junior Dylan Pacura have also played key roles for the Knights.

“All of them have specific roles, but they blend together so well,” Kimball said. “We could have five different leading scorers (each game). It makes it a little bit easier for us. Each kid has stepped up this year. It’s been fun to watch them grow.”

The Knights are seeking their first OHC South Division title since joining the conference in 2018. It’s been nearly two decades since the boys program won a conference championship in boys basketball. Greenon is 4-2 in the OHC South, 2 1/2 games back of unbeaten Catholic Central (9-0, 7-0 OHC South).

“We’ve got to come in each and every day working consistently and we’ll kind of let our work speak for itself,” Kimball said. “We need to trust the process and hopefully at the end of the year we can have a big game on our hands where we’re playing for a league title. We’re going to keep putting our heads down, getting to work and hope for the best towards the end of the year.”

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