Both teams have two senior starters after graduating three last year
In his 11 years as the head basketball coach at Gettysburg, Jeff Bair has learned never to get too high or low at the start of the season.
Asked about expectations for his team following a 17-11 season and a trip to the state tournament last year, Bair kept his answer simple.
“Well you’re always nervous,” Bair said. “You just never know. I feel good but you never know. It depends how pieces go together. We have a lot of guys who have played a lot of basketball. It just comes down to can we play the right way."
Hanover coach Nathan Myers knows exactly how Bair feels. Like Gettysburg, Hanover is coming off a successful season, having gone 21-4 before losing in the third place game in the district tournament. Still, Myers knows those wins last season mean very little now.
“Every year is different, and that’s what’s great about high school sports,” Myers said. “You start at ground zero every year, and you try to put things together to be successful.”
The other similarity between the two programs is that both enter this season having lost three senior starters from last season. For Hanover, that includes the program's leading scorer Dylan Krieger, while Gettysburg's biggest losses are four-year varsity players Tyler Lampe and Colin Bortner.
Although replacing those players won't be easy, it's something both programs are used to dealing with. Myers went through a similar situation in 2012 when his team graduated nine players from the season before, and Bair said that he typically loses two or three starters every season.
“I think when you’re a solid program you’re always losing good players, and hopefully you’re developing other good players," Bair said. "At least you hope. If you’re not, then you’re not a good program.”
Both teams have some continuity in the form of two returning senior starters each. Gettysburg brings back guards Marquise Camel and Max Lampe while Hanover has also retained backcourt mates Kyle Krout and Will McQueen.
For Camel and Lampe, handling Gettysburg's scoring load likely won't be an issue. Camel averaged nearly 13 points-per-game season, and Lampe chipped in with nine while also handling the team's point-guard duties.
What will be an adjustment for them is the added responsibility of being vocal leaders. Both players said they feel comfortable taking on that role, and that they believe the Warriors have enough talent to contend with forwards Connor Weikert, Devin Ringler and Ravaughn Dillard stepping into varsity roles.
“Winning this year would be great because it would show that we were ones that made it happen," Camel said. "I feel like we’re a lot more athletic than we were last year, we’ve got a lot more speed and we have a post (players) now."
Krout and McQueen are hopeful that they'll also have post players they can rely on this season. Following the departures of Krieger (24.7 points-per-game last season) and Jacob Rhodes, the Nighthawks will rely on untested sophomore Bryce Hart and senior Brent Hill to provide production from the forward position.
“They’re young," Krout said of the team's forwards. "Hart, he can play basketball but sometimes he plays like a sophomore. There’s nothing wrong with that, and we’re glad to have him. He came out to all our summer league games so he's got a little bit of experience."
A four-year starter and quarterback of the football team, Krout is used to being a leader and says he "loves taking that role and seeing kids develop." It will be a bigger adjustment for McQueen, who is going into his second year as a starter and isn't used to being vocal.
The senior point guard is excited for the challenge, nonetheless, and is also preparing to be more of a scorer after focusing on distributing last season.
“My role has drastically changed,” McQueen said. “Last year I had the job of getting the ball to everyone else like Krieger and Krout. Now I’ve definitely developed into more of a scorer, more of a leader that I was last year.”
Neither coach is making any guarantees that they'll reach their win totals from last season, though both hope their teams will have more depth. But for the time being, Bair and Myers are taking a wait-and-see approach.
“Obviously what happened last year was great," Myers said. "This is the 2015-16 team. It’s a new team so we’ll see what happens."