2021-22 Montpelier boys basketball team picture

Members of the Montpelier boys basketball team are (front row, from left) manager Braxton Henry, manager Will Friend, manager Isaac Owen, manager Nash Miller, manager Rowen Saneholtz and manager Emmitt Ramos; (middle) Trent Thorp, Ash Walz, Garrett Walz, Haden Shaffer and Colin Mattern; (back) assistant coach Derek Walz, assistant coach Tyler Keefer, Jamison Grime, David Bowman, Brody Kreischer, coach Nick Ramos and assistant coach Scott Freese.

MONTPELIER — Montpelier’s boys basketball program lost several key seniors from a year ago that it will have to replace.

Three-year letterwinners Tylor Yahraus, Blake Altaffer and Thomas Jay, as well as Dylan Eitniear and Gavin Stratton, made up the bulk of the 2020-21 team, which went 10-9 (7-5 Buckeye Border Conference, tied for third) to give the program its first season over .500 since 2016-17 (12-10, 7-5).

Yahraus also earned all-BBC first-team honors and was honorable mention in the Division IV Northwest District, while Altaffer and Jay got honorable mention in the BBC.

“We’ve lost all of our scoring from last season,” first-year Locomotives coach Nick Ramos said. “Tylor, Thomas, Blake, Dylan, Gavin Stratton, those boys were most of our offense last year... One of those boys always had the ball in their hands, so losing that will be so big.

“The biggest part for us also is for the boys (to realize) that we’re not them. We’re going to have to do things a little bit different.”

Montpelier will have to rely on two returners in junior Garrett Walz (two-year letterwinner, all-BBC second team) and senior David Bowman (one-year) early on in the season from both a leadership and on-court presence standpoint.

“Especially Garrett — he’s going to have the ball in his hands most of the time — most of our offense will revolve around those two,” Ramos said. “It will just be a matter of those two making the other guys better and let them catch up to the varsity level, because I don’t think anybody else on our team even had more than 10 minutes at the varsity level last year.

“So, David and Garrett will be probably our most important callings in our program this season. And if they can get everybody else involved and caught up, I think we’ll be OK.”

Under Ramos, who took over for three-year coach Justin Houk (19-45) in late June, the Locos will plan to shore up their defense. Ramos has also been with Montpelier’s boys basketball program since 2013, serving as a junior high, freshman and junior varsity basketball coach in his tenure.

“We’re not going to change very much,” Ramos said. “... But for the most part, we just got to get the kids to buy into more defense. We went through a whole stretch where we thought we were going to try and run and run and run, and score 80 to 90 points a game. Well, we only averaged 30 points a game.

“So if we can keep the other team closer to our score level, then I think we’ll be where we want to be.”

Ramos also mentioned senior Colin Mattern and juniors Jamison Grime and Trent Thorp have been impressive during practice so far.

“Jamison Grime and Trent Thorp are looking really good in practices,” Ramos said. “... Jamison is looking real well, one of our seniors Colin Mattern is really shooting the ball well this year. We got some guys coming up.”

Making sure the mental mindset of this year’s team is solid and not comparing themselves to last season’s squad will also be key, according to Ramos.

“It starts with the players. As coaches, we can come in here and we can yell and bark and do everything we want to do, but it’s really up to the students and the players to get the job done on the floor,” Ramos said. “We’re only going to go as far as they can take us, and that’s what we really need those boys to focus on.

“We’re not going to compare ourselves to the things that we’ve done in the past, where as we got to look to the future and get better for us as a team.”

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