MECHANICSBURG — Paul Hershberger, Jr. isn’t letting his Mechanicsburg High School boys basketball team get ahead of itself.
As hard as it can be for coaches to get high school kids to not look ahead, Hershberger, Jr. said his team is doing a good job of staying focused.
The Indians (12-6, 10-2 Ohio Heritage Conference) travel to Jamestown tonight to face the Rams (13-5, 11-1 OHC) in a game that could decide the league champion.
With a win, the Rams would win their second straight OHC title. The Indians can stay in the hunt with a victory and clinch at least a share with a victory against Catholic Central on Friday night.
“You’ve got to take it one game at a time,” Hershberger, Jr. said. “Just like we had to win against Triad, we have to win these other two. The pressure is going to be there regardless, so there’s no reason to put any more pressure on yourself than you need to.”
After falling to Fairlawn 61-58 last Tuesday, the Indians bounced back with an 89-47 victory over rival Triad last Friday.
“They’re really handling adversity that comes our way with a positive attitude,” Hershberger, Jr. said. “They’re looking at things with a glass half-full mentality.”
Since dropping to 4-4 with a loss to Southeastern on Dec. 23, the Indians have won eight of their last 10 games. Offensively, they’re led by Cody Callicoat (15.0 points per game), Brandon Purk (10.0 ppg) and Derik Frost (9.5 ppg). They’ve had seven different players score in double-figures this season.
“We’ve talked about how important it is for different guys to step up on different nights, and how important that is for a team,” Hershberger, Jr. said. “We don’t want to be a one-headed monster.”
The Indians haven’t won the Ohio Heritage Conference title in basketball since the league began in 2001. The Indians last conference championship came in 2000, when they won the final West Central Ohio Conference title. Mechanicsburg football coach Kurt Forrest was a member of the Indians team that season, and one day at practice he pointed out the banner in the gymnasium.
“I remember him telling the boys, ‘We’re lonely. We need somebody to join us,’ ” Hershberger, Jr. said.
Tonight’s game with Greeneview was postponed from Jan. 20 to Feb. 14, and definitely changed the dynamic of the schedule for both teams.
“They’re definitely a force to reckon with,” Hershberger, Jr. said. “We’re going to have to be extremely balanced on offense, play sound on defense and keep them off the boards. They do a great job crashing the boards.”
The Indians’ motto this season has been “Work hard and have fun.”
“If we can take of those two things, everything else will take care of itself,” Hershberger, Jr. said.
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