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Chieftain boys look to avoid repeat of last year’s opener

Bellefontaine faces tough task Friday with trip to Celina

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Bellefontaine’s Max Oyer, left, and his teammates hope to avenge last year’s 65-34 loss to Celina when the two teams meet Friday in Celina for the season opener. (EXAMINER FILE PHOTO | MATT HAMMOND)

There is no easing into the season for the Bellefontaine boys basketball team.

The Chiefs will play one of their toughest opponents of the season in Friday’s opener and will do it on the road as they travel to Celina for a non-league contest.

A year ago, Celina jolted Bellefontaine 65-34 in the season-opening game.

With a unique arena-style facility with fans on all sides of the court, the Bulldogs’ home court can be an intimidating place to play.

“It is important that we play with poise in that environment,” said BHS head coach Henry Stolly. “They will use multiple defensive schemes to put pressure on us and we have to be prepared for that.”

In a rebuilding season a year ago, the Bulldogs went 9-12 and finished sixth in the Western Buckeye League.

They have a talented crop of players returning, led by senior forward/center Matt Buschur. A third-team all-WBL pick last year, the 6-4 Buschur averaged 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game.

Big things also are expected from sophomore guard Ryan Hoyng, who was named honorable mention all-league as a freshman for averaging 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per contest.

Other returning players for the Bulldogs are senior guard Braden Billger (6.3 ppg, 1.8 ppg), junior guard Braelen Bader (3.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg) and 6-5 senior forward Aric Fickert (4.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg).

The Bulldogs are balanced offensively, possessing good quickness and shooting on the outside and impressive size inside.

“The are quick in transition and their guards are athletic and shoot well,” said Stolly. “They are strong in the post, too. We have to be solid with our transition defense, limit their post touches and close out on their shooters on the perimeter. We also have to contain the dribble drives.”

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