In his first five years at Independence, Hugh McMahon has been patient as the Blue Devils experienced a bit of a youth movement.
This year’s team is McMahon’s most experienced squad and the offseason work has the Blue Devils ready to compete in 2017-2018.
“I believe we will be much improved this season,” McMahon said. “We’ve had the best offseason since I have been here with some great senior leadership. We have experience playing at the varsity level, now we need to take the next step.”
Independence’s potential starts with senior guard Kyle Stefanski, a two-time second team All-Chagrin Valley Conference and two-time honorable mention All-Northeast Lakes District honoree.
Stefanski, a four-year starter and three-year captain, led the Blue Devils in nearly every statistical category last season and is closing in the 1,000-point mark for his career.
“He has been the backbone of this team and we look to him to continue that leadership both on and off the court,” McMahon said.
Joining Stefanski in the starting lineup are senior forward Jack Ksiazka, senior guard Andrew Teribery, sophomore forward Jamie McMahon and sophomore center Wyatt Flynn.
Ksiazka and McMahon were named honorable mention All-CVC last season.
“Jack helped solidify our post position last season. He has had worked hard in the offseason to expand his game,” Coach McMahon said. Jamie played a key role last year as a passer and rebounder. We are looking for him to add to that this season.”
Teribery was a regular on the varsity last year while Flynn saw spot duty.
“At times, Andrew showed high-level play. We need him to be more consistent this year,” McMahon said. “Wyatt progressed through freshmen and JV ball last year to earn minutes on the varsity level. He is an athletic big man who can run the floor.”
Senior guards Akhil Patel and Justin Pace and sophomore guard Thomas Ceculski are expected to play key roles this winter.
“We have experience and we have some depth; we also have some length, which will allow us to play a variety of defenses,” McMahon said. “We need to give 110-percent on every play–no resting, no holding back–to be successful. We have enough depth to allow players to sellout on the court, rest, and return without the game getting out of hand.”
Independence split a pair of games over the opening week of the season and returns to action on Tuesday at Richmond Heights.