progress. With an inside game bolstered by 6-toot-8-inch Adreian Payne,
the Broncos could be a work of Art.
JEFFERSON TWP. — Preseason predictions tabbed Jefferson Township’s boys high school basketball team as a Division IV favorite.
After a handfull of games, though, Broncos coach Art Winston isn’t sure if his team is tops in the Metro Buckeye Conference.
“It’s going to come down to three or four teams,” Winston said after handing Troy Christian its first loss with a 53-28 defeat on Tuesday. “You can’t count Troy Christian out. I think this is the most competitive this league has been in a long time. That’s great.”
Winston — who also tabbed Middletown Christian and Dayton Christian as front runners — hopes to be there in the end, too. For now the Broncos (3-1 both overall and in the MBC) are a work in progress. With an inside game bolstered by 6-toot-8-inch Adreian Payne, the Broncos could be a work of Art.
“Once we learn what we’re doing and learn to practice hard every day, I don’t know. It’s unlimited,” Winston said of the Dayton area program’s potential. “We’re still young. Kids are still learning their positions.”
That wasn’t supposed to be the situation. But two key players left the team to start the season. That left only two more with significant varsity experience. Jefferson, though, has significant talent.
“It’s about learning how the speed of the game is totally different and how practice is different,” Winston said. “Now they have to learn to practice at a higher level and play at a higher level all the time. Right now we’re playing around 24 minutes of basketball. Once they learn to practice hard, once we get everything together defensively and offensively, I think we’ll be a real good team.”
Payne, a sophomore being recruited by Xavier University and the University of Dayton, forms a powerful post tandem with 6-4 Rondell Beard. Junior guard Dwayne Sanders brings stability at guard. Both Beard and Sanders played varsity last season.
“I just try to relax and play a good game,” Sanders said of his increased leadership role. “It’s a lot of hard work, but I’m getting used to it now.”
It helps having Payne and Beard. Payne led the win over Troy Christian with 15 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks. Though his talent is still blooming, his potential is booming. Midway through the first quarter, Payne grabbed a deflected shot in midair and in one motion laid it in. In the second quarter Payne blocked a fastbreak lay-up off the glass, hustled back downcourt and scored at the other end. He also had a pair of dunks.
“They expect a lot out of me,” Payne said of the fans. “The expectations are high. I just gotta meet them.”
The Broncos surpassed them against the Eagles on Tuesday. Troy Christian (4-1, 2-1 MBC) led 2-0. It was 11-2 before the Eagles scored again. Jefferson, which led 22-15 at the half, opened the third quarter with eight straight points. The 30-15 lead never dipped below double digits again.
“At the half I felt really good,” said Troy Christian coach Dan Vaughan. “We were down seven and I didn’t feel it could get much worse. I was wrong. … Usually out of all of our guys, we can find someone able to come out and get hot. Holy cow, we couldn’t find anybody tonight and that’s the first time I can remember in three years. I wrote 22 points on the board at halftime. If you can hold Jefferson to 22 points at halftime, sooner or later I thought we would find someone to hit something for us.”
Jefferson had no such trouble. Kavico White added 12 points off the bench, Sanders chipped in 10 and Beard added eight points and six rebounds.
“It’s always tough here,” Winston said of playing at the Eagles Nest. “They’re scrappy and they always play tough.”
That’s where Winston wants the Broncos to be come tournament time. The talent is there. They just need that varsity experience.
“The tournament is so far away,” Winston said. “And the tournament is such a funny event because the best teams are not always the teams that get to the state final. Its the teams playing well at the end of the season. If you don’t play hard it’s one and done.”