Bulldog lineup was hit hard by graduation
Northern Lehigh boys basketball team members are, kneeling, from left, Kole Richard, Alec Berger, Zach Moyer, Carter Smith and Jorge Guzman. Standing, head coach Jeff Miller, Mike Repsher, Grant Olewine, Teague Herzog, Ardit Mujovic, Ryan Hammond, Desean Smith and assistant coach Devin Glose. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
It’s one thing to lose one or two starters to graduation.
It’s a whole different matter when to lose four.
That’s the case for Northern Lehigh boys basketball coach Jeff Miller, as his team prepares for the upcoming season.
“It’s certainly a lot to lose,” said Miller, who enters his 10th season in charge of the Bulldogs.
Three-year starters Brandon Hess and Preston Kemery, along with Nick Seier and Nate Keller, helped Northern Lehigh compile a 15-9 record a year ago, but all four were seniors and have moved on from the program.
Hess and Kemery saw action in all 24 games last season. Not only did they take the floor in every game, they were the key components to the Bulldogs’ offense as Hess led the team in scoring at 15.88 points per game, and Kemery followed with a 14.25 ppg. average. Keller saw action in 23 games, while Seier was in 22.
The Bulldogs will surely miss their experience, scoring and leadership.
“They were great young men, as well as basketball players,” said Miller of the four. “They meant so much to our program.
“Obviously, losing probably 85 to 95 percent of our scoring, and leadership — it’s a big hurt. It’s a big loss.”
Miller, like most coaches, has faced this scenario before and will once again work with returning players and newcomers to try and produce some success.
Zach Moyer leads another senior-laden roster, which features classmates AJ Berger, Kole Richards and Carter Smith. Also returning are Jaden Marlatt, Ardit Mujovic and Grant Olewine.
“We’re going to lean on Zach, especially early on,” said Miller. “We don’t have a lot of varsity experience coming back. We’re not necessarily a young team because we’re mostly juniors and seniors.
“We’re not a young team. But we are young in varsity experience.”
Moyer played in every game a year ago, and Berger played in all but two. Smith was next best at 16 games, while Mujovic and Olewine each hit the floor for 13 games. Kole Richards also saw some time.
Senior Jorge Guzman, along with juniors Ryan Hammond, Teague Herzog, Mike Repsher and Desean Smith will all look to gain some valuable minutes this season.
Despite the lack of varsity experience, many of the Bulldogs were able to gain valuable playing time during the offseason.
“We played a lot this summer, and with that hopefully we were able to prepare them,” Miller said. “The biggest thing for a lot of these kids that played jayvees and are moving up to varsity is just getting them oriented with the speed of the game — the speed of the varsity game. And also the physicality of the varsity game.
“We played in the summer league, summer tournaments, scrimmages over the fall ... with the hope of preparing them for when the lights go on.”
While the Bulldogs have plenty of room to grow, Miller stressed every single one of his players is displaying the right kind of attitude.
“We will be competitive, as they’re working hard,” said Miller. “I think defensively, we’re pretty good right now. We just had a scrimmage, and I was happy with our defensive effort. Certainly, with all we lost and all the points we lost from last year, our offense is probably a little behind where we need to be or would like to be.
“But, hopefully in the next couple of weeks, that will pick itself up as well. And, hopefully, their hard work will pay off with some victories this season.”