Hilliard Northwest News

Basketball

Jaguars look to reap benefits of experience

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LORRIE CECIL/THISWEEKSPORTS
Blake Hanson (left) is one of several returnees who are giving Bradley a veteran look this season.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

The Hilliard Bradley High School boys basketball team hopes that having more experience leads to more victories.

The Jaguars have returned six letterwinners, including four starters, from last season, in which they finished 1-22 overall and went 0-14 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to finish eighth behind champion Westerville North (14-0).

Bradley, which entered last season with only one letterwinner and no returning starters, posted its only victory against Teays Valley, winning 60-51 after losing its first 10 games. The Jaguars lost their final 12 games, including a 71-39 loss to top-seeded Northland in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

"Our team goals are to play hard, play smart and play together," said fifth-year coach Michael Limbird, whose team opened Nov. 29 with a 60-58 overtime loss to Central Crossing before playing Franklin Heights on Dec. 3.

"We feel that if we follow that process, the wins will follow. Everyone on our roster is a team-first kid and I couldn't think of a better group of kids to coach."

Seniors Connor McDunn (5-foot-11, guard) and Brady Simpson (6-1, guard), junior Jackson Murphy (6-4, forward) and sophomore Brandon Glenn (5-11, point guard) have returned to the starting lineup.

Last season, Glenn averaged 10.1 points and Simpson and Murphy both averaged 7.2. Simpson was named honorable mention all-league.

"(Simpson and McDunn) are both extremely tough kids that love to compete," Limbird said. "They provide intense defensive pressure, team-first attitudes and sharp shooting from the outside.

"Glenn is our floor general. Our offense runs through his penetration and decisions. There will be nights where he will have 10 assists and other nights we need him to score.

"Murphy is probably our best rebounder and pure scorer. He has put in a lot of time in the offseason to get better and it shows.

"He will be difficult to guard on the perimeter for the opposing post players."

Also back are juniors Nick Ingstrum (6-2, guard) and Blake Hanson (5-10, guard). Rounding out the roster are juniors Preston Rapp (6-0, guard), Kyle Taylor (6-4, forward) and Austin Upper (6-5, center) and sophomore Derek Dunnagan (6-3, forward).

Ingstrum opened the season as a starter.

Ryan Reffitt, a 6-4 post player who averaged 8.2 points and 7.0 rebounds last season, did not return for his senior season.

Against Central Crossing, Glenn had a game-high 20 points and Murphy and Ingstrum added 14 and 10 points, respectively.

"We should be around 10 deep," said Limbird, whose team begins OCC-Cardinal play Friday, Dec. 6, at home against Dublin Jerome. "Dunnagun is a sophomore that gets better every day in practice and will play a huge role. Our foot speed as a team is probably the best it's been at Bradley and is showcased by Brandon Glenn, Preston Rapp and Blake Hanson putting pressure on the opponents' guards.

"We are not very big, but we are very skilled. We will look to run in transition but also have the ability to play a well-executed half-court game. The key on the defensive end is to be disruptive. We want to force the opponent off their spots and feel rushed. For us, it all starts with ball pressure."

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