If Larry Siegfried were still alive, the greatest basketball player
in Shelby High School history just might have a smile on his face. Siegfried, who died last October from complications after a heart
attack, didn’t like to talk about himself and he didn’t like the state
of high school basketball. But he would almost certainly like Josh Ingle.
SHELBY – If Larry Siegfried were still alive, the greatest basketball player in Shelby High School history just might have a smile on his face.
Considering his disdain for the prevailing Ome-first’ attitude he saw poisoning the game he loved, prying a smile out of Siegfried was as easy as prying a personal anecdote from his storied playing career.
Siegfried, who died last October from complications after a heart attack, didn’t like to talk about himself and he didn’t like the state of high school basketball.
But he would almost certainly like Josh Ingle.
That Ingle became the second player in program history to score 1,000 career points wouldn’t have registered on Siegfried’s radar. After all, Siegfried staunchly believed the pursuit of individual prestige was the cause of the game’s erosion.
That Ingle is scoring a career-best 21.7 points a game while averaging fewer shot attempts than a year ago and is one of five players averaging at least 8.5 points a game, well, those are all things the man who extolled the virtues of team unity could get behind.
That Shelby is 12-0 for the first time since Siegfried dominated the area landscape in the 1950s is a tribute to Ingle and his teammates.
Shelby’s 6-foot-5 senior forward joined Siegfried in the Whippets’ two-man, 1,000-point club two weeks when he scored 29 in a 71-59 win over Bellevue.
“Considering all the great players who have come through the program, it’s still a little hard to believe that I am only the second person to get there,” the unassuming Ingle said. “To even be mentioned in the same sentence with Mr. Siegfried is a great honor, not for me, but for our entire team.”
While Ingle is clearly the centerpiece, Shelby boasts north central Ohio’s most balanced offense. Garrett Arnold is averaging 11.9 points a game, while Connor Nelson checks in at 10.1 points. Brandon Spangler (9.9) and Jeff Nelson (8.5) round out the starting five.
“What this team is doing so well is we are taking the shots we want people to take,” coach Troy Schwemley said. “Before this year Josh would sometimes try a little too hard to be a scorer and he would force the issue.
“This team is so unselfish. We typically have three or four guys in double figures and we’ve had at least four different leading scorers. Josh will typically get 18 or 19 a game, but teams can’t say, OWe’ve got to stop Josh Ingle tonight,’ because we have got some other guys who can score.”
Scoring has always come easy to Ingle. He came off the bench as a freshman for a team that went 19-5 and advanced to the district title game, averaging about five points a game.
“I was a freshman playing with 10 seniors,” Ingle said. “My role was to stay out of their way.”
Not exactly, Schwemley said.
“A lot of times you will see freshmen playing varsity on a team that is rebuilding, but he was playing significant minutes as a freshman on a good team,” Schwemley said. “He was ready to play and he contributed off the bench.”
As a sophomore, Ingle’s scoring average jumped to 14.9 points a game. Last year, he averaged 18.9 points a game on 14.2 field goal attempts. This year, he is attempting about 13 shots a game.
“This year we completely scrapped our offense from the last few years,” Ingle said. “We used to run a three-out, two-in set. This year, it’s an offense based on constant movement. I sometimes still draw more attention, but that has opened things up for the rest of the team.
“Everyone has put in a lot of time in the gym and it’s paying off.”
Ingle spent much of the summer refining his game with cousin Andy Carver, one of three high-scoring Carver brothers to play in the program. Andy played briefly at Bluffton, while Ben and Jason Carver suited up for Malone.
“They were all great players,” Ingle said. “When I would go against them, I would have to play well or get left in the dust.”
The Whippets, who shared the Northern Ohio League title with Bellevue and Tiffin Columbian last winter, have been leaving the rest of the league in their dust throughout the first half of the season. None of Shelby’s five NOL opponents have come within 10 points.
“It’s been a long time since Shelby has won back-to-back league championships,” Ingle said. “That is a huge goal of ours, to win the outright championship.”
If Shelby is to capture the NOL title, it will be due in no small part to a markedly improved defense. The Whippets have allowed just 48.7 points a game in NOL action this season, down from 57 points a game last year. With Ingle leading the way, Shelby leads the league in rebounding.
“Defensively, I’m so happy with Josh,” Schwemley said. “He is rebounding (7.6 per game) and blocking shots (2.0 per game) and really making an impact at that end of the floor.”
The Whippets are putting themselves in position to make a run at a district title. Shelby hasn’t advanced to the regional tournament since 1999.
“Like any team, we want to make a long tournament run,” Ingle said. “We know we will have our work cut out for us just winning a sectional. There are some fantastic teams at (the Division II) Mansfield Senior (sectional).”
That field includes Lexington, Madison, Clear Fork and Willard. Those teams are a combined 32-16.
“If we keep playing as a team,” Ingle said, “anything can happen.”
Those words would be music to Larry Siegfried’s ears.