Don't call it a rebuilding year for the New Covenant Christian boys basketball team. At least not around the Flames' coach.
“I am hoping for this year to be more than a rebuilding year,” said David Miller, entering his first year as the head coach at New Covenant. “I hate the term 'rebuilding year.'”
Whatever phrase is used, the Flames will need someone to step up to replace the scoring of Dawson Copenhaver, who led them with 15.9 points per game last season.
But regardless of who fills that specific role, Miller is optimistic his players will learn each role they are asked to perform.
“Teachability,” Miller said was the Flames' biggest strength in the preseason. “The kids are so open to learning whatever we throw at them.”
Miller has a fairly sizable classroom, with 17 players on the roster for his basketball lessons.
“We'll also have depth, which we haven't had much at New Covenant in the past,” Miller said.
Actual on-court experience, though, is a little thin. Seniors Nathan Dubble and Tony Kornhaus got time on the floor in 2015-2016, but the other players either got off the bench sparingly or are new to the team.
Two more seniors, Lanston Harner and Daulton Fortna, were among those who did get some playing time last season.
Other members of the team include seniors Jevon Martin, Kim Jin and Joey Song, junior Shamar Whitmore, sophomores Alex Burns, David Hubbard, Jackson Tak and Tyrece Raub, and freshmen Eli Zeisloft, Ian Scheirer, Jonny Klohr, Riley Kilmer and Sam Simniskis.
Miller said he had not yet discussed with the team specific goals, but that he intends for the players to put together a 3.0 GPA while helping the team improve.
Last year, the Flames finished 10-10, qualifying for the District 3 Class 1A playoffs, but losing in the first round. They were 8-4 in the CCAC West, finishing three games behind Mount Calvary.
Trying to catch Mount Calvary will almost certainly require replacing the points lost to Copenhaver's graduation, as Mount Calvary had one of the stingiest defenses in the area last year, permitting just 44.7 points per game.
The PIAA's recent expansion of basketball classifications from four to six did not affect New Covenant Christian, which will be Class 1A again this year. There are 21 Class A teams in District 3.
New Covenant boys
Coach: David Miller
Last year: 10-10
Returning starters: Nathan Dubble (sr.), Tony Kornhaus (sr.)
Other key players: Lanston Harner (sr.), Daulton Fortna (sr.)
Season opener: Friday, at Boiling Springs, 7:30.