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Tri-County’s Jaedan Johnson is the focal point of the Cavaliers’ offense.

Four of last season’s six victories were league wins. That allowed the Cavaliers to earn a share of the Midwest Conference title, which came as somewhat of a surprise for a club with just two seniors and that was 13 game under .500 (6-19).

The bulk of that team is back. It gives Mark Gretencord an idea of where the benchmarks begin this year.

“Our ultimate goal is to, first of all, win the conference title,” the fourth-year coach said. “We were able to get a share of that last year, and yes, you want to be playing your best basketball in March. And I thought we were playing well there in March at the end.”

Tri-County lost its opener by 20 (57-37) on Nov. 27, but was without two of its top players because of coronavirus-related issues (both were in quarantine after contact tracing). In that contest, newcomers made their mark all over. Senior Jimmy Rodebush (eight) and freshman Eric Zarse (seven) were two of the top scorers, and provided nine rebounds.

Senior Jaedan Johnson paced the team with seven points, six rebounds, three assists and two teals. He paved the way in multiple statistical categories as a junior and will essentially be asked to do the same this season. Juniors Logan Doty (6.0 points, 4.67 rebounds) and Korbin Lawson (4.4 points, 3.7 rebounds) will provide help in expanded roles as starters for a second straight season.

“We’ve got experience coming back,” Gretencord said. “Leading scorer, leading rebounder and we have some good pieces to fill in that have experience. We have some younger guys that are trying to earn their way in — and some aren’t necessarily young, like Jimmy, but just getting a shot at their first major varsity experience.”

Most everyone had experience last season and will be asked to do more. Senior Reece Dickinson is new to basketball, but provides height and frontcourt depth. Six-foot-four Nate Corbin played a few games last season and will do the same as he develops during his sophomore season.

Other multisport athletes Gretencord has coached in either basketball or football dot the roster and aid the effort.

“We have a lot of guys fighting for some positions, and we’ll just have to wait and see how things kind of pan out,” Gretencord said. “With this being a COVID-19 season, kids are going to get some playing time depending on quarantines and things like that.”

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