When Mark Bezy took over the Rivet boys basketball program prior to the 2016-17 season, he inherited a sophomore group that he’d been coaching since they were in second grade.
But that group graduated last spring and took with it over 80 percent of the Patriots’ scoring from a season ago, including Sun-Commercial Player of the Year Colten Mouzin. There’s no question that this is Bezy’s biggest challenge to date, but the coach is confident he has three seniors — Tre’von Taylor, Austin Finch and Cedric Schleiss — on which he can build.
The season starts tonight when Rivet entertains Shakamak for homecoming.
“It’s going to be new. It’s uncharted waters for me as well. I had those seniors (last year) for a long time, so I’ll have to go about different ways of coaching myself,” Bezy said. “There’s a lot of newness on this team. One thing I do see from these three seniors is their leadership. That’s a good thing to have when you’re transitioning like we are. We have to adjust our offense, and defensively we’ll have to tweak some things. There are some juniors who give leadership too. From that standpoint, I’m inheriting a better team than when I took over. That year we had nobody returning on the varsity, and no leadership to build off of.”
At 6-4 and 6-3, Finch (3.4 points per game last year) and Taylor (4.9) give the Patriots an inside presence, and they played in every game a year ago. Schleiss appeared in 14 games and scored four points. Several others return with limited experience, but 5-9 junior Charlie Niehaus is the only other returner to score a bucket last season.
“Those three seniors know they have to be the men this year, and they have big expectations for themselves,” Bezy said. “Tre has the most experience, and Finch has been floating around since his sophomore year too. Cedric came on at the end of last year, and he’s going to have to handle the ball for us. We may have to live through Tre, and he works hard for us. Finch is going to have to extend his game and take on more responsibility.
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“Those three guys have to step up and be seniors, plain and simple.”
Niehaus leads the junior class, which includes 5-10 Sam Hinkle and Seth Ferris, 6-3 Drake Dunn, 6-2 Peyton Catt and 6-6 Luke Weiss. Dunn has the next most experience after Niehaus, both appearing in over half the team’s games, but after that, Catt played in just five games a year ago, Weiss two, and Ferris one. Bezy added that 6-3 freshman Tommy Herman could also factor in to playing time.
“Charlie, Drake and Peyton all had great summers,” Bezy said. “Starters could depend on who we play. Tommy had a great summer too. He’s raw, but he’s a big boy.
“Something that really shocked me when we started practice was just how big we were. We’re a lot bigger than last year. You add Tommy, P.C. (Catt) has grown a couple inches, and Finch and Tre have filled out. We’re a big basketball team, and hopefully rebounding won’t be a struggle.”
Filling out the roster of just 13 are freshmen, 5-7 Ryan Nguyen, 6-3 Ayden Frederick and 5-10 Curtis Shake. Despite the low numbers, Bezy still planned on having a full junior varsity schedule, though he said it’s possible all 13 will dress varsity.
While size is a strength, Bezy said his team’s shooting is an area that needs improvement.
“Our strength is going to be our size. We’re not as athletic as we’ve been the last three years, and we’ll probably be a more patient team. Our biggest strengths are our size, leadership and how well we play together,” Bezy said. “We’ll be a slower team offensively, but these guys are patient and willing to work for a shot. They’re working hard, and that’s all you can ask for.
“Shooting’s a concern. We don’t necessarily have a spot-up shooter. Cedric and Charlie have been working on their 3-point games a lot, but they can be hit and miss. Cedric needs to find some confidence in himself, knowing he can shoot it. I know those two are capable of catching fire, but they have to have the confidence to knock down a big shot.”
Not much has changed in the Blue Chip Conference as Barr-Reeve carries a 51-game league winning streak into the season, the last loss coming in 2013. But the sectional is much different for the Patriots for the first time in the class basketball era.
Tournament realignment last spring moved Rivet away from its normal sectional at either Loogootee or North Daviess. Instead, the Patriots relocated to the Springs Valley Sectional, which consists of the hosts, Northeast Dubois, Evansville Day, Wood Memorial and Cannelton. The IHSAA decision is even more puzzling considering that Rivet’s replacement in its old sectional, Orleans, is a county rival of Springs Valley.
While Bezy doesn’t miss having to get through the fourth-ranked Vikings, he’s still confused by the move.
“I’ll be honest, I don’t understand the justification for moving us. Obviously I’m not griping, but whether it’s North Daviess or Loogootee hosting, I’ve never heard of Rivet not being there,” Bezy said. “It’s uncharted waters all the way around. But the IHSAA says this is the schedule, so we have to play it.”
While new, the opponents won’t be wholly unfamiliar. The Jeeps and Trojans are Blue Chip foes, and Day and Cannelton are also on the schedule. Springs Valley isn’t a guaranteed opponent, but the Patriots get a chance on their court in a tournament after Christmas. It figures to be a wide open sectional too, as Day’s best player, 6-11 center Noah Hupmann transferred to Covington Catholic (Ky.).
“It’s going to be different, but we’re in it for two years and hopefully we can make the most of it,” Bezy said. “We hope to be a lot better team by then than when we open (today).”
No. |Name |Pos. |Ht. |Yr.
2 |Cedric Schleiss |G |5-11 |12
3 |Ryan Nguyen |G |5-7 |9
11 |Sam Hinkle |G |5-10 |11
20 |Seth Ferris |G |5-10 |11
24 |Charlie Niehaus |G |5-9 |11
30 |Austin Finch |F |6-4 |12
33 |Ayden Frederick |F |6-3 |9
34 |Drake Dunn |F |6-3 |11
42 |Curtis Shake |F |5-10 |9
44 |Tre'von Taylor |F |6-3 |12
52 |Peyton Catt |F |6-2 |11
54 |Tommy Herman |F |6-3 |9
55 |Luke Weiss |F |6-6 |11
Coach: Mark Bezy
Assistants: Curtis McCrary, Austin Thomas
DATE |OPPONENT |TIME
Nov. 30 |SHAKAMAK |7:30
Dec. 6 |North Knox |7:30
Dec. 13 |WASHINGTON CATHOLIC |7:30
Dec. 14 |North Daviess |7:30
Dec. 20 |Lawrenceville (Ill.) |8
Dec. 21 |EVANSVILLE CHRISTIAN |7:30
Dec. 27-28 |Springs Valley Trny.
Jan. 3 |CANNELTON |7:30
Jan. 4 |Bloomfield |7:30
Jan. 10 |LOOGOOTEE |7:30
Jan. 11 |DUGGER |6
Jan. 17 |Hutsonville-Palestine (Ill.) |8
Jan. 18 |North Central |7:30
Jan. 24 |Northeast Dubois |7:30
Feb. 6 |WOOD MEMORIAL |7:30
Feb. 8 |EVANSVILLE DAY |1:30
Feb. 10 |Bloomington Lighthouse |7:30
Feb. 14 |Shoals |7:30
Feb. 18 |SOUTH KNOX |7:30
Feb. 21 |Barr-Reeve |7:30
Feb. 27 |White River Valley |7:30
Home games in CAPS
All times EST and p.m.