2021-22 North Central boys basketball team photo

Members of the North Central boys basketball team are (front row, from left) manager Easton Fidler, Mason Sanford, Colin Patten, Zack Hayes, Colton Hicks and manager Briggs Fiser; (middle) manager Malachi Smeltzer and manager C.J. Fidler; (back) coach Chris Fidler, Joey Burt, Ethan Beard, Ben Pettit, Cohen Meyers, Landon Justice, Jake Turner, Quin Burt and assistant coach Nelson Turner.

PIONEER — North Central’s boys basketball team returns a plethora of talent from 2020.

The Eagles, who went 7-17 overall (5-7 Buckeye Border Conference) and lost in a Division IV sectional final a year ago, return their entire team and look to make some noise in the BBC this year.

“We will be a scrappy, hard working group this year,” said North Central coach Chris Fidler, who is 47-120 and entering his eighth year leading the Eagles. “We will utilize our depth to be able to press and pressure our opponent and utilize our much-improved shooting ability. We have some much-needed experience this year that we were lacking from last season.”

North Central is headlined by senior Zack Hayes. The 6-foot-2 three-year letterwinner scored 15.4 points per game, grabbed six rebounds and handed out 2.1 assists to earn all-BBC first-team honors and honorable mention in the Division IV Northwest District by the Ohio Prep Sportswriter Association.

Hayes is also 34 points away from scoring 1,000 in his career. He would be at least the 15th between both programs in school history to reach that mark, with senior Madison Brown on the girls team 107 points away.

The Eagles also return key players in senior Colin Patten (two-year letterwinner, 6-2 forward, 5.4 points per game, 3.6 rebounds), junior Landon Justice (one-year, 6-0 guard/forward, 5.5, 3.6) and sophomores Joey Burt (one-year, 5-8 guard/forward, 8.7, 3.5, 2.1 assists), Cohen Meyers (one-year, 6-2 forward, 4.5, 4.9) and Ben Pettit (one-year, 6-2 guard, 6.1, 3.2).

North Central has several additions in seniors Mason Sanford (5-9 guard) and Colton Hicks (5-9 guard/forward), junior Quin Burt (5-8 guard/forward) and sophomores Ethan Beard (6-1 guard/forward) and Jake Turner (6-foot guard/forward).

“We will be a much-improved team from a year ago as we had no seniors and nine first-year high school players last year and COVID took our summer of preparation away from them,” Fidler said. “They were thrown to the wolves last season at such a young age and they responded wonderfully. I see us being in the top two of our league this year and contending for a league title.

“I feel like the younger boys have really taken to their experience that they had last year... This summer, we had a pretty good summer, and I feel like there’s a lot of good things coming from not only my seniors, but from the younger group, too.”

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