Columbus Academy Roundup: Boys basketball squad preps for MSL-Ohio gauntlet

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Junior guard Tanner Compton is the leading returnee for Columbus Academy after averaging 9.7 points and being named honorable mention all-league a year ago. The Vikings are striving to improve on last winter's 11-13 finish.

Coming off an 11-13 season, the Columbus Academy boys basketball team is determined to improve on that record.

However, the Vikings' bid to begin that pursuit has been delayed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

MSL commissioner Jim Hayes announced a tentative MSL-Ohio Division schedule Nov. 24. Teams will play one round of league competition — with the Vikings scheduled to start Jan. 9 at Grandview — before being seeded for a league tournament Feb. 5-12.

To prepare for league play, the Vikings scheduled non-league games Dec. 22 at home against McConnelsville Morgan, Dec. 28 at Caledonia River Valley and Dec. 30 at home against Fredericktown.

Coach Jeff Warstler said it's important for the Vikings to play a few non-league games before the MSL-Ohio schedule starts because the "league is so tough." Last season, Academy went 4-8 in the league to finish sixth behind co-champions Whitehall and Worthington Christian (9-3).

“That league is rough every year,” said Warstler, who is in his ninth season. “Worthington Christian is off the charts. They are the favorite to win it all, win the state. If they’re not, they’re on the very short list of the conversation. ... There are no nights off. You can go 4-10 in that league and play well. We’ve had some nice postseason success and that’s due to the fact that we play in a league that is so tough.”

The Vikings’ returnees are led by 6-foot junior guard Tanner Compton, who averaged 9.7 points and was named honorable mention all-league a year ago.

“We’re looking good,” Compton said. “Our first two scrimmages we shot the ball pretty well. We defended pretty well also. Our guards are looking good and our bigs are also looking pretty good.”

Also back is 6-6 junior post player Kevin Reeves, who will provide size in the paint.

Other returnees are seniors Daniel Farber (6-5, post player), Sonari Hart (6-3, forward), Brady Hess (6-2, guard), Jared Kass (6-2, forward) and Miles Walter (6-0, forward), while juniors Johnny Hill (6-1, guard), Parker Logan (6-2, forward), Ryan Panley (5-9, guard) and Henry Rubey (5-11, guard) round out the roster.

Junior guard Carter James (5-11) also was expected to be a key contributor, but he likely will miss most of the season after suffering an ACL injury during football.

“This team fits the mold of what we wanted Academy basketball to be these last nine years for me,” Warstler said. “This team has a lot of grind to it trying to win those little battles, first in floor deflections, steals, being in position defensively, really gritting and grinding. I just like how hard we play.”

Academy lost four players to graduation, including Carter Warstler, who led the team in scoring (14.5), rebounding (5.7), assists (4.1) and steals (3.5). He was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.

“Playing behind Carter Warstler last year, coming in and him taking me under his wing helped a lot for this year,” Compton said. “I’m ready for that."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

BOYS BASKETBALL

Coach: Jeff Warstler, ninth season

Top players: Tanner Compton, Brady Hess, Jared Kass and Kevin Reeves

Key losses: Mitch Priest and Carter Warstler

Last season: 11-13 overall

2019-20 MSL-Ohio standings: Whitehall and Worthington Christian (9-3), Grandview (8-4), Buckeye Valley and Wellington (6-6), Columbus Academy (4-8), Bexley (0-12)

2020 postseason: Defeated Marion Pleasant 52-41; lost to Harvest Prep 65-41 in Division III district semifinal