Pictured, from left, are Hillsboro's Ryan Scott, McClain's Bryson Badgley, Lynchburg-Clay's Ian Waits, Fairfield's Connor Priest and Whiteoak's Landon Barnett. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Pictured, from left, are Hillsboro's Ryan Scott, McClain's Bryson Badgley, Lynchburg-Clay's Ian Waits, Fairfield's Connor Priest and Whiteoak's Landon Barnett. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)

The 2020-21 Highland County Boys Basketball Preview Tip Off presented by The Highland County Press. (Editor's Note: All schedules are subject to change.)

TEAM NAME: Hillsboro Indians

HEAD COACH: Miles Burton (2nd season)

CONFERENCE: Frontier Athletic Conference (FAC)

• 2019-20 — 9-14 (3-7, FAC)
• 2018-19 — 10-14 (3-7, FAC)
• 2017-18 — 8-16 (3-7, FAC)
• 2016-17 — 4-19 (4-10, SCOL)
• 2015-16 — 8-16 (4-10, SCOL)


2020-21 ROSTER
No. Name Grade
2 Nick Lewis 12
3 Ethan Parry 11
4 Jayse Middleton 11
10 Quintin Captain 11
11 Ryan Scott 12
12 Canaan Griffith 11
20 Jack Rhodes 12
21 Shane Sullivan 12
22 Coltin Hunter 12
23 Jakwon Clark 12
24 Lawton Parry 12
25 Hunter Price 12
31 Bryce Parsons 10
32 Blake Tira 12
35 Brad Miller 12

THE TIP-OFF: This year as Hillsboro enters the season with second-year head coach Miles Burton at the helm, he feels there has a been foundation built after having a season with his team, and now it is time for the Indians’ program to take the next step for success.

Before this season begins, Burton said the following about being with HHS for his second season: “Last year, I didn't feel we were prepared to compete at a high level until after Christmas because there were so many things that I had to put in. The added familiarity between the players, my staff and myself is invaluable and allows us to be one of the more efficient teams I've been around.”

The Indians had a 9-14 record a season ago, and now they enter the 2020-21 season with 10 seniors, four juniors and a sophomore on the roster.

One of the standout players this season will be Ryan Scott — who last season averaged 16.4 ppg, 3.8 apg. and 2.5 rpg., while also totaling 316 points in 20 games — as Burton said:

“Ryan Scott has a chance to be the best player in the county and in the league. He has completely transformed his body, and it has transferred into his game in a big way. He has spent the time learning the mental aspects of being a point guard, and I am excited to watch his continued growth throughout the season.”

Burton also spoke highly of Brad Miller and Hunter Price. Last season, Miller averaged 7.8 ppg. in 22 games, and Price averaged 7.3 ppg. in 23 games.

“Nobody had a bigger offseason than Hunter Price,” Burton said. “He went from having a wiry frame to being the strongest player on the team. This kid loves basketball and has put in a ton of time, adding pieces to his game this offseason. I have no doubt Hunter is in for a breakout season.

“Brad Miller comes into the season with 40-plus varsity starts under his belt. Brad does all the ‘little’ things that don't always show up in the stat book but are invaluable to the team's success. Brad's speed and athleticism at the center position will be a problem for teams this year.”

Also returning are Quintin Captain and Jakwon Clark, both of whom Burton praised before the start of the season.

“Quintin Captain went from splitting time on varsity and JV at the beginning of the year, to getting a handful of starts, multiple 20-plus-point games and the toughest defensive matchup most nights. I have no doubt in my mind that Quintin will continue his quick progression and consistently be a tough two-way guard in our league.

“Jakwon Clark had multiple big-time performances last year and led us in scoring several nights. As he enters his senior campaign, I expect Jakwon to be a matchup nightmare for most teams on both ends of the floor.”

TEAM EXPECTATIONS: “We expect each other to punch the time card every single day with the goal of daily incremental improvement so we can have a winning record, compete for a league championship, and be playing at the Convo in February. With nine seniors, this team doesn't need much motivation to compete on a daily basis. They know to reach goals that haven't happened at Hillsboro in nearly a decade, we will have to work differently than we have in the past. I love this team and am thankful to have the opportunity to work with these players and staff every day.”

TEAM GOALS: “Our goals are to have a winning record, which hasn't happened since 2012; win a league championship, as it also hasn't happened since 2012; and win a sectional championship and trip to the Convo.”

OFFSEASON: “Even though all of our team camps, shootouts and summer scrimmages were shut down due to COVID-19, this was one of the best offseasons I have ever had with a team. Due to the state lifting the 10-day instruction restriction, we were able to provide much more instruction than a normal year, which really helped us make big strides at all levels of the program. We have the best weight room facilities and strength coaches around, and our players took full advantage.”

THOUGHTS ON CONFERENCE: “This year has the potential to be very exciting in the FAC. Chillicothe are the favorites until someone knocks them off. They lost four really good players, but I know Coach (Eric) Huffer will reload quickly and have his guys ready to play. Jackson lost the FAC player of the year (Caleb Wallis), but returns a lot of contributors, and Coach (Max) Morrow has the program in a really healthy place.

“Miami Trace should be one of the biggest teams in the district with the potential for Coach (Rob) Pittser to have three guys 6-6 or taller on the floor at the same time. Coach (Joe B.) Stewart and McClain return nearly everyone, including first-team All-District selection Bryson Badgley. Washington had the best freshman in the league last year in Tanner Lemaster. I'm sure Coach (Shannon) Bartruff will have them rolling in no time.”

: “Our non-conference schedule is tough, to say the least. We open up the season on Friday at Wilmington, which will be a tough test right out of the gate. We have Division I games at Western Brown and home against Goshen. Unioto and Eastern Brown are two of the best teams in the region and will undoubtedly have major sectional seeding implications.

“Blanchester returns Brayden Sipple, who most likely will have already broken Lebron James' scoring total before we are scheduled to play in February. Clermont Northeastern is always a tough place to play.

“Obviously we have county games against Lynchburg-Clay and Fairfield, which is always going to be a war. All in all, our non-conference schedule is as challenging as anyone else in the region. It's a fun schedule, but we'll have to bring our ‘A’ game every single night because we don't have anybody on the schedule we can afford to give anything but our best effort and not expect to walk out with a loss.”

2020-21 SCHEDULE
Nov. 27 @ Wilmington 7:30 PM
Dec. 1 vs. Lynchburg-Clay 7:30 PM
Dec. 4 @ Chillicothe 7:30 PM (PPD)
Dec. 8 vs. Washington 7:30 PM
Dec. 11 @ Jackson 7:30 PM
Dec. 15 @ Miami Trace 7:00 PM
Dec. 19 vs. McClain 6:00 PM
Dec. 22 @ Paint Valley 7:30 PM
Dec. 29 vs. Clinton-Massie 7:30 PM
Jan. 2 @ Eastern 7:30 PM
Jan. 5 @ Clermont Northeastern 7:30 PM
Jan. 8 vs. Chillicothe 7:30 PM
Jan. 12 @ Fairfield 7:30 PM
Jan. 15 @ Washington 7:30 PM
Jan. 19 vs. Goshen 7:30 PM
Jan. 22 vs. Jackson 7:30 PM
Jan. 23 vs. Unioto 6:00 PM
Jan. 29 vs. Miami Trace 7:30 PM
Jan. 30 @ Western Brown 5:00 PM
Feb. 5 @ Blanchester 7:30 PM
Feb. 6 @ McClain 6:00 PM
Feb. 9 vs. East Clinton 7:30 PM

- - - - - - -

TEAM NAME: McClain Tigers

HEAD COACH: Joe B. Stewart (32nd season, 3rd w/McClain)

CONFERENCE: Frontier Athletic Conference

• 2019-20 — 9-15 (3-7, FAC)
• 2018-19 — 15-8 (6-4, FAC)
• 2017-18 — 3-20 (2-8, FAC
• 2016-17 — 9-15 (4-10, SCOL)
• 2015-16 — 5-18 (2-12, SCOL)


2020-21 ROSTER
No. Name Grade
10 Preston Saunders 11
11 Bryson Badgley 11
12 Lyle White II 12
13 Jase Allison 11
15 Camden Closson 12
20 Isaac Carroll 11
22 Evann Mischal 11
23 Carson Spangler 12
24 Seth Wise 11
30 Braden Wright 11
32 Kendyll Toney 11
33 Andrew Newland 11
42 Wesley Potts 11
44 Christopher Starkey 11

THE TIP-OFF: The McClain Tigers have a roster full of juniors and three seniors as they take the next step in working to improve from their season from a year ago. This is Joe B. Stewart’s third year with the McClain program, and his 32nd year overall, and the Tigers will face a tough schedule all season long, in both conference and non-conference action.

That said, the Tigers don’t want to hear “wait till next year,” or “this is another year to build,” as Stewart spoke about his team before the start of the season earlier this month.

“This team faces an extremely difficult schedule with the quality of our conference and non-league games facing us including some very strong teams on the road. Our growth and effort will make us an improved team that we think will make us difficult to play,” Stewart said. “I believe this team which includes 11 juniors must ignore all the talk ‘of being a year away’ as my high school team heard many years ago. We expect them to bring heart, hustle and balance to each situation at home and on the road. If we can do that, we believe we can have a very competitive squad right now and especially at tournament time.”

McClain has three seniors in Lyle White II, Camden Closson and Carson Spangler. The junior class consists of Preston Saunders, Bryson Badgley, Jase Allison, Isaac Carroll, Evann Mischal, Seth Wise, Braden Wright, Kendyll Toney, Andrew Newland, Wesley Potts and Christopher Starkey.

Badgley last season totaled 17.2 ppg and 8.5 rpg., while scoring 399 points in 24 games.

OFFSEASON: “We had an extremely good summer of individual and team improvement when the state opened our gyms at the end of May. Beginning with the six-foot-apart workouts, our guys were very dedicated in attendance and effort despite those challenging circumstances. As we transitioned to the more traditional team situations, we saw them growing as athletes, as skilled players and young people.

“All 14 of our varsity players on our roster made strides and improvement since last year. We think they will represent family, our school and community in a class manner. So many of these guys proved in the midst of this circumstance a genuine love of the game and care for others. When we all came together again at the completion of fall sports, they picked up where they left off with spirited competition and effort. We are really looking forward to this season.”

THOUGHTS ON CONFERENCE: “I believe all of our conference coaches have the thought that this could be a wide open race with balanced competition throughout. Jackson has a high number of people returning from I believe an 18-win season. Miami Trace returns nearly everyone and overall size that makes them a tough out when they can play to that strength.

“Chillicothe graduated heavily, but their program is very sound, large and well-stocked with athleticism as our lone D1 school. Hillsboro had some very good wins last year and returns size, strength, quickness and perimeter shooters, while Washington CH and ourselves struggled last year with young teams and programs. It will be highly competitive each night, and our guys are looking forward to the challenge of the FAC.”

2020-21 SCHEDULE
Nov. 25 @ Unioto 7:30 PM
Dec. 1 vs. Zane Trace 7:30 PM
Dec. 5 @ Vinton County 7:30 PM
Dec. 8 vs. Jackson 7:30 PM
Dec. 11 @ Miami Trace 7:45 PM
Dec. 15 vs. Chillicothe 7:30 PM (PPD)
Dec. 19 @ Hillsboro 6:00 PM
Dec. 22 vs. Lynchburg-Clay 7:30 PM
Dec. 29 @ Adena 7:30 PM
Jan. 2 vs. Fairfield 5:45 PM
Jan. 5 vs. Whiteoak 7:30 PM
Jan. 8 @ Washington 7:30 PM
Jan. 12 @ Westfall 7:30 PM
Jan. 15 @ Jackson 7:45 PM
Jan. 19 @ Federal Hocking 7:30 PM
Jan. 22 vs. Miami Trace 7:30 PM
Jan. 23 vs. Circleville 7:30 PM
Jan. 29 @ Chillicothe 7:30 PM
Feb. 2 vs. Paint Valley 7:30 PM
Feb. 6 vs. Hillsboro 6:00 PM
Feb. 9 @ Piketon 7:30 PM
Feb. 12 vs. Washington 7:30 PM

- - - - -

TEAM NAME: Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs

HEAD COACH: Matt Carson (14th season, 8th w/Lynchburg-Clay)

CONFERENCE: Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC)

• 2019-20 — 4-19 (3-10, SHAC)
• 2018-19 — 3-20 (2-11, SHAC)
• 2017-18 — 15-9 (7-6, SHAC)
• 2016-17 — 15-8 (11-2, SHAC)
• 2015-16 — 25-3 (12-1, SHAC)


2020-21 ROSTER
No. Name Grade
0 Garrett Reno 10
3 Ian Waits 10
10 Chase Smaltz 12
11 Landon West 10
14 Noah Miller 11
15 Austin Barnhill 11
20 Trey Pitzer 10
22 Logan Shope 10
24 Bryce Binkley 10
30 Hunter Barnhill 11
32 Brady Chisman 10
42 Kyle Bennington 10
55 Jacob Allen 10

THE TIP-OFF: The past two seasons haven’t been kind to the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs in the standings, as they have battled adversity and won seven games in those past two seasons. That’s all in the past, and now the Mustangs are working on setting a new standard to their program with nine sophomores, three juniors and one senior to get back to their winning ways.

The senior is Chase Smaltz, while the juniors are Noah Miller, Austin Barnhill and Hunter Barnhill. Sophomores this season include Garrett Reno, Ian Waits, Landon West, Trey Pitzer, Logan Shope, Bryce Binkley, Brady Chisman, Kyle Bennington and Jacob Allen.

TEAM EXPECTATIONS: “We want to be the best version of ourselves on a nightly basis and respond well in all environments. The players have shown an ability to do this from the offseason and preseason. Any time they’ve been challenged or asked to give more, they have. The thing I like most about this group is their competitiveness; they make each other better and challenge each other in practices.”

TEAM GOALS: “We want the players to come out and compete at a high level on a nightly basis. Communication is going to be key for us on both ends of the floor. We also want to move the basketball well; finding that open man and making the defense pay for miscues is going to be huge for us.”

OFFSEASON: “The offseason was a positive for us. The players seemed to be very grateful for the opportunity to get back into the gym during the summer, and not being able to scrimmage anyone else actually allowed us to focus in on what we wanted to do and how we wanted to play. They´re a resilient and competitive group that enjoy playing the game.”

THOUGHTS ON CONFERENCE: “The SHAC is going to be competitive every night as it has been the past couple of years. In the big school division, I believe Eastern and North Adams will be the favorites, with Peebles and Whiteoak being the favorites in the small school; Fairfield is young, but they’ll get better as the year goes on. Again, though, this league is one where you have to bring it every night against every opponent.”

: “Our non-conference schedule should prepare us for tournament time. We have our traditional county non-conference games against Hillsboro and McClain, as well as a non-conference game against league rival Whiteoak. The schedule is neat in that we play all four county schools within the month of December, which will be exciting for our players. New additions to our non-conference schedule for this year are Batavia, Huntington and Zane Trace, which are all at home. Rounding out the schedule is Western Brown, Georgetown and Paint Valley.”

2020-21 SCHEDULE
Dec. 1 @ Hillsboro 6:00 PM
Dec. 4 vs. Fayetteville 6:00 PM
Dec. 8 @ Whiteoak 6:00 PM
Dec. 11 vs. Ripley 6:00 PM
Dec. 12 vs. Batavia 3:00 PM
Dec. 15 @ Fairfield 6:00 PM
Dec. 18 vs. West Union 6:00 PM
Dec. 22 @ McClain 6:00 PM
Dec. 30 @ Paint Valley 8:00 PM (varsity girls/boys only)
Jan. 5 vs. Huntington 6:00 PM
Jan. 8 @ North Adams 6:00 PM
Jan. 9 vs. Western Brown 3:45 PM
Jan. 12 vs. Manchester 6:00 PM
Jan. 15 @ Eastern 6:00 PM
Jan. 19 vs. Zane Trace 6:00 PM
Jan. 22 @ Ripley 6:00 PM
Jan. 26 vs. Georgetown 6:00 PM
Jan. 29 @ West Union 6:00 PM
Feb. 2 vs. Whiteoak 6:00 PM
Feb. 5 vs. North Adams 6:00 PM
Feb. 9 @ Peebles 6:00 PM
Feb. 12 vs. Eastern 6:00 PM

- - - - -

TEAM NAME: Fairfield Lions

HEAD COACH: Josh Howland (4th season)

CONFERENCE: Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC)

• 2019-20 — 15-10 (7-6, SHAC)
• 2018-19 — 12-11 (7-6, SHAC)
• 2017-18 — 12-12 (4-9, SHAC)
• 2016-17 — 17-7 (10-3, SHAC)
• 2015-16 — 11-13 (5-8, SHAC)


2020-21 ROSTER
Connor Priest
Tytis Cannon
Reese Teeters
Kaleb Payne
Tucker Watson
Zane Taylor
Brayden Zimmerman
Jon Bentley
Koben Zink

THE TIP-OFF: Last season, the Fairfield Lions won 15 games, and now they want to continue that path of winning with their team for the 2020-21 season. There are high expectations for the Lions, and they do return a couple starters from a year ago, who bring the experience that will be needed to get things rolling along for the program. Head coach Josh Howland said the following this preseason:

“We have high expectations for our returning starters Conner Priest and Tytis Cannon. We also have Reese Teeters back, who was our sixth man. Our other returning players are: Kaleb Payne, Tucker Watson and Zane Taylor. We look forward to seeing our young players step up as they are Brayden Zimmerman, Jon Bentley and Koben Zink.”

TEAM EXPECTATIONS: “We expect our players to play solid defense and work hard to improve on the offensive end. We like how well our players have worked together, so far. They are a great group of young men and we have high expectations for them to come together as a very competitive team.”

TEAM GOALS: “Our number-one goal is to win the small division in the SHAC.”

OFFSEASON: “With us not being able to play any summer league games, it has been a challenge to get our young players up to speed. We graduated Wyatt Willey, Bryson Simmons and James Bentley. All three of those young men were three-year starters. They have played a huge role in our program’s success with three sectional titles, a league title and a perfect record in the county last year. They set a great example for the underclassmen and youth in our program.”

THOUGHTS ON CONFERENCE: “The SHAC is always competitive. Eastern and North Adams will be solid again. Lynchburg-Clay will be much improved. Whiteoak will be much better from the small division and of course Peebles will be the team to beat.”

THOUGHTS ON NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE: “We look forward to our non-conference rivals within the county. Hillsboro and McClain will both be better this year, as they were young last season. Washington C.H. will be in a similar situation with their players gaining some experience, and now they have a seasoned coach (Shannon Bartruff) to help them get back on track.”

2020-21 SCHEDULE
Dec. 1 vs. Paint Valley 8:00 PM
Dec. 4 @ Peebles 8:00 PM
Dec. 8 vs. West Union 8:00 PM
Dec. 11 @ Manchester 8:00 PM
Dec. 12 @ Eastern 8:00 PM
Dec. 15 vs. Lynchburg-Clay 8:00 PM
Dec. 19 @ East Clinton 8:00 PM
Dec. 29 @ Wellston 6:30 PM
Jan. 2 @ McClain 5:45 PM
Jan. 5 @ Washington 7:30 PM
Jan. 8 vs. Whiteoak 8:00 PM
Jan. 12 vs. Hillsboro 7:30 PM
Jan. 15 @ Fayetteville 8:00 PM
Jan. 16 vs. Western Latham at Coach Young Classic 1:30 PM
Jan. 19 vs. Peebles 8:00 PM
Jan. 22 vs. Manchester 8:00 PM
Jan. 26 @ North Adams 8:00 PM
Jan. 30 vs. Valley 8:00 PM
Feb. 2 @ Ripley 6:00 PM
Feb. 5 @ Whiteoak 8:00 PM
Feb. 6 vs. Adena 8:00 PM
Feb. 12 vs. Fayetteville 8:00 PM

- - - - -

TEAM NAME: Whiteoak Wildcats

HEAD COACH: Ryan Barnett (2nd season)

CONFERENCE: Southern Hills Athletic Conference (SHAC)

• 2019-20 — 8-15 (5-8, SHAC)
• 2018-19 — 12-13 (4-9, SHAC)
• 2017-18 — 13-11 (5-8, SHAC)
• 2016-17 — 4-19 (1-12, SHAC)
• 2015-16 — 5-18 (2-11, SHAC)


THE TIP-OFF: The Whiteoak Wildcats want to add to their win total from last season, where they finished 8-15 overall, but in some of their losses played close to their opponents for a good portion of the games in both conference and non-conference play.

“I have a positive outlook on our upcoming season and expect to be very competitive. We have three returning starters from last year. I look for Nick Bailey to be the athlete everyone knows he can be and to be a game changer.

“I look for Brad Ashbaugh to develop a multi-dimensional game. He shoots the three, but he’s been working on his penetrating abilities as well. Carson Emery stepped up last year and started as a freshman and I expect him to gain more confidence in his ability all around the floor.

“Landon Barnett started as a freshman point guard last year and stepped up to the challenge. I look for him to be more aggressive on the offensive end and be a leader on the floor.”

TEAM EXPECTATIONS: “The expectation for our team is to always give 110 percent and push the basketball. The things I have liked most about this preseason is that the kids have came in and worked hard at skills. They have also learned to be more disciplined.”

TEAM GOALS: “Our team goals are to win, and if we don’t win, be in every ball game we play. Of course we always want to win a league title and sectional championship.”

OFFSEASON: “This offseason has been difficult because school was shut down and all the camps were cancelled.”

THOUGHTS ON CONFERENCE: “My thoughts on the SHAC are that any game night is never an easy one. Our league has always been super competitive and tough. There is usually one-to-two teams from our league that make a tourney run and that’s a good thing.”

THOUGHTS ON NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE: “My thoughts on the non-conference schedule are to win. We look forward to playing out of conference to show other leagues what the SHAC is all about.”

Last season the top three players for the Wildcats included Josh Hughes, who as a junior scored 197 points, while also averaging 2.1 spg., 8.9 ppg., 6.6 rpg. and 2.8 apg. Hughes also had a 44.6 FG percentage and 55.9 FT percentage.

Bradley Ashbaugh during his sophomore year for the 2019-20 season scored 237 points, while also having the following numbers: 1.3 spg., 80.9 percent FT, 10.3 ppg., 3.4 rpg., 1.3 apg. and 39 FG percentage.

Landon Barnett, a freshman a season ago, totaled a 65.6 percentage from the free-throw line, while also having 10.3 ppg., 2.4 apg., 233 points 3.1 rpg. and a 33.2 FG percentage.

2020-21 SCHEDULE
Nov. 28 @ Williamsburg 7:30 PM (PPD)
Dec. 1 @ Felicity-Franklin 7:30 PM
Dec. 4 vs. Manchester 8:00 PM (PPD)
Dec. 8 vs. Lynchburg-Clay 7:30 PM
Dec. 11 vs. West Union 8:00 PM
Dec. 18 @ Fayetteville 8:00 PM
Dec. 19 @ Glenwood 7:30 PM
Dec. 22 vs. Piketon 7:30 PM
Dec. 29 vs. Northwest 7:30 PM
Jan. 5 @ McClain 7:30 PM
Jan. 8 @ Fairfield 8:00 PM
Jan. 9 @ East Clinton 7:30 PM
Jan. 12 vs. Eastern 8:00 PM
Jan. 15 vs. Peebles 8:00 PM
Jan. 19 @ Manchester 8:00 PM
Jan. 29 vs. Fayetteville 8:00 PM
Feb. 2 @ Lynchburg-Clay 8:00 PM
Feb. 5 vs. Fairfield 8:00 PM
Feb. 9 vs. North Adams 8:00 PM
Feb. 12 @ Peebles 8:00 PM