As his team comes off a 13-10 season full of promise and potential, Wellington Dukes boys basketball coach Dan Gundert knows the journey is just beginning.
Before falling to the Oberlin Phoenix in the second round of the 2016 Division III district tournament, the Dukes boys put together a come-from-behind opening round win over Rittman and showed that a hard working group of underclassmen was coming of age.
“We’re excited for the year and we’re just trying to put numbers on our wall,” said Gundert. “These guys know that. They’ve been part of a two-win team and a seven-win team too. That’s a lot of motivation in itself.”
Gundert heads into his sixth season as coach. He was a star player before graduating from Wellington in 2002 and then found further success on the court in college at Baldwin-Wallace.
He called senior forward Trey Bealer “arguably the best post player in the PAC” after he averaged 14.4 points per game last season. Josh Kindel, now a senior, was second on the team with 11.4 points per game.
Bealer earned First Team All-PAC and First Team All-Lorain County nods and an honorable mention in the district while Kindle received honorable mentions in the district, county, and conference.
Junior Max Joppeck put up 10.7 points and 6.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore and provided a constant inside-outside threat.
Although the team’s starting lineup has not yet been finalized, that trio will be expected to continue its progress along with juniors Grant Kidd and Trevor Porter.
“Our strength is definitely our size and power,” said Gundert. “A weakness right now is our point guard position. We have two guys playing in that spot who are out of position so it will be interesting to see how it plays out during the season.”
Just like last year, the Dukes won’t be overly reliant on senior talent and have set themselves up for success in the next few seasons, he said.
“We feel very confident in that regard,” he said. “Our junior class works hard and is very talented. Our freshman and sophomore classes are also doing everything that’s asked of them to become better players as well.”
Efficiency in the turnover battle and striving for second-chance points will continue to be a hallmark for the Dukes this year.
“Those are our keys every game,” said Gundert. “Those two things are a product of your effort and the guys know that. If we do those things in a game I’m very confident about our chances that night.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.