Statement Season

Following his inaugural season, John Ashworth prepares to define what HSE basketball will become in his second year.

Around the country, basketball season is just around the corner. But, in Indiana, its been here as teams have been training and focusing on this season since their last game in March. It is no secret that High School Basketball finds another level of intensity in the Hoosier state, especially in the Indianapolis area. But what many don’t realize is the impact a coach, whether good or bad, can have on a team despite the athletes they have. This is what John Ashworth sets out to prove in his second season as Hamilton Southeastern’s head basketball coach. Following a seemingly less desirable season Ashworth seeks to make a statement after his first full rotation with HSE basketball.

Many would expect to see an immediate impact as a coach takes over a team; and when viewing their record this may not seem like the case. But, an in-depth look at the season reveals a different story. Last season the Royals finished 9-14 with a sectional loss to a very good Westfield squad. However, this was a squad they had beaten earlier in the season, overcoming 20-point underdog margins, with a last-minute score by Tyler Lacy. In addition to this, they took a highly praised Fishers team to triple overtime in the famed Mudsock game; once again coming close to defying seemingly overwhelming odds. From an outside view it may be hard to see, but court side you could see a renewed energy and dedication to the sport from HSE Basketball. The good news is, in truth, that the inaugural season is not where the largest impact is made. Ashworth’s second season is where his true impact on the program will be displayed.

Ashworth celebrates as his team takes the lead. – Photo by Gabby Haynes

It won’t be easy, losing key players like Sam Jacobs who averaged 20 points per game and was a 50 percent field goal shooter never is. But Ashworth has no shortage of talent on his squad this year. Junior Donovan Hamilton, who averaged eight points per game in his sophomore season will return following his breakout year on the football field. In addition to Donovan’s athleticism Ashworth will also have senior Rephaim Stevenson’s expertise in the paint as well as his leadership. “He has bought into his role as an emotional leader for our group.” Ashworth had to say on Reph’s leadership, “He does a good job of making sure practices and workouts are intense and that players compete.” This level of leadership is crucial for coach to have in his locker room, especially through the offseason grind.

With a new coach comes a new culture surrounding the sport. With HSE basketball, that new culture heavily surrounds the weight room and conditioning in addition to extensive skills work. “We brought in coach Jamares McCloud to work specifically on skill development,” Ashworth said, “I think the players have responded in a positive way.” In addition to this added expertise on the basketball court, HSE’s strength coordinator Stephen Kryzminiski has committed new resources like tracking sensors in the weight room to incorporate velocity-based training in addition to traditional strength building techniques. “Our kids have really bought in to the idea of working and earning whatever we get,” Ashworth stated, “they are hungry to have some success this season.” There has been no shortage of dedication to both culture and athletic development, but will the team get off to the start they want?

The initial schedule this season has some solid opponents early. The team travels to Pike High School on November 26th followed by a home matchup with Avon. These could be good wins for the Royals to build momentum in the first weeks of the season, but the team could be without some key players for these games. Donovan Hamilton (mentioned earlier) is a dominant wide receiver for the HSE football team. In addition to this senior Joe Karwowski, who was injured for most of his junior season, is also a member. Both players could have serious impacts on the athleticism and depth of the team this season but with their involvement in other sports they may not be eligible. The HSE football program has a chance to contend for the State Title on thanksgiving weekend, and if that occurs neither Hamilton or Karwowski will have their 10 practices needed to be eligible for competition.

The bottom line is this, there are still plenty of question marks in regard to this Hamilton Southeastern basketball team. However, what has been answered is the question of Ashworth’s dedication. Through the weight room, skill development, and intense conditioning Ashworth has installed what his program will be about. Hard work, commitment, involvement, and discipline will define HSE basketball throughout the Ashworth era. However, we will have to wait and see the extent of the impact that has on the court this season. – Story by Alex Boothby