Those making up this year s Annville-Cleona boys  basketball team are, front row from left, Noah Connor, Dylan Ellis, Paxson Hayes, Matt Light, Christian
Those making up this year s Annville-Cleona boys basketball team are, front row from left, Noah Connor, Dylan Ellis, Paxson Hayes, Matt Light, Christian Kreamer, Casey Smith, Tyler Speraw and Alan Connor. Back row are Zach Weaber, Derrick Sanders, Richmond Owusua, Brandon Boger, Finn Hermanson, Niko Shuret and Trenton Wizar. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS ASHLEY WALTER)
Another season, another group of seniors depart the Annville-Cleona boys' basketball team.

Two years after a string of postseason appearances, including the Class AAA state tournament, coach Justin Edwards certainly has some work cut out for him.

"With our situation, our first goal should always be to be competitive in Section Four," Edwards said of his team's goals. "Crossovers with Section Three can be tough, but in Section Four we should always be competitive.

"As far as team and personal goals, I let the players decide that."

After losing Josh Henning and Trey Blanding two years ago from a state tournament run, the Little Dutchmen depart with four more this year in Alec Wizar, Freddy Hess, David Miller and Tyson Hayes.

"Each of those guys had individual traits that are key to the team's success," said the second-year coach referring to the team's 8-14 record a year ago.

Wizar put up the points at more than 21 per game while also drilling a league-best 75 3-pointers. Hess was a force inside while Miller was the team's stopper defensively.

Tyson Hayes was the glue to the team, and together they made it work. This year Edwards will need to rely on seniors Zach Weaber, Casey Smith and Adam Conner plus junior Paxson Hayes.

Weaber started some for the Little Dutchmen last year and over the offseason worked a bit on his face-up game, which should help Edwards' squad. Hayes is planning to have the ball in his hands a lot while Conner is expected to jump into a starting role this year and become a stopper defensively.

"Last year was a transition year," Edwards said of his first season as coach. "We had a few guys left over from the runs and they just led by example.

"It's a bit of a down swing, but we have a lot of potential in our junior high."

Joining Weaber, Smith, Conner and Hayes in starting lineup this year will be newcoming junior Derrek Sanders. Sanders is what Edwards describes as a rough post player that plays strong and physical.

Paxson Hayes is one player who will be thrust into a prominent role this season after graduation took four starters from last year s team.
Paxson Hayes is one player who will be thrust into a prominent role this season after graduation took four starters from last year s team. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS ASHLEY WALTER)

Even with losing a lot of talent over the past few graduations, Edwards is very optimistic about the team and even the future of the Annville-Cleona program.

"I want to bring back the mentality of district expectations yearly; just like it was 15 years ago when I was playing here."

A positive in this regard for Annville-Cleona is the fact that they are moving back to the AA portion of the district bracket after spending a couple years flirting up in AAA. It's a move the Little Dutchmen will certainly embrace.

"We should be jockeying for AA districts," Edwards said of the drop to AA this season. "Lancaster Catholic and Columbia as well as those Section Three teams should be tough, but hopefully they prepare us for a postseason chance."



Zach Weaber, who s on a short list of Little Dutchmen returning with starting experience, works on his jump shot in Annville with assistant coach Garry
Zach Weaber, who s on a short list of Little Dutchmen returning with starting experience, works on his jump shot in Annville with assistant coach Garry Smith. (LEBANON DAILY NEWS ASHLEY WALTER)