Mt. Vernon lineup filled with newcomers

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FORTVILLE — It’s a brand new team.

The Mt. Vernon boys basketball roster for the 2022-23 season will have a few familiar names, but only Eli Bridenthal is back from last year’s group that went 22-3 and took home a second straight sectional championship.

“It’s been interesting, even in the summer, to see the young kids interact,” Mt. Vernon coach Ben Rhoades said. “Eli is a great leader. We’ve had some JV kids that have stepped up a little bit and we’ve got some younger kids that have potential, but right now it’s nothing more than potential. They’ve never played a game to prove anything at this point in time.”

The Marauders graduated twin standouts Amhad Jarrard and Armon Jarrard. Both are playing basketball at IUPUI. Two other starters, Rae Wells and Avery Williams are now part of the football program at Marian University. Another graduate, Cooper Galli, was a three-year starter.

Subs Darren Smith, Gavin Sullivan and Charlie Bostic have graduated, too. George Burhenn, who has committed to play tight end at Purdue next year, and one of the first Marauders off the bench last season, is not playing. Before he heads off to be a Boilermaker, he’s concentrating on getting ready for track and field season where he is one of the state’s top hurdlers and part of a Marauder all-state relay team.

Bridenthal, a 6-foot-2 senior guard, was the first player off the bench last season. He averaged 6.7 points per game and 3.9 rebounds. He upped his offensive performance during the Marauders stretch drive by scoring in double figures in five of the team’s last eight games.

He’s one of the school’s top athletes, a three-sport star. He did a little bit of everything — and did it well — for the football team in the fall, playing quarterback, running back, wide receiver, defensive back and kick/punt returner. In the spring he’s a standout pitcher on the baseball team, recently signing to play at the Division I level at Xavier University.

No other player on the roster has played significant varsity minutes.

Rhoades believes his team may take its lumps early, but he really likes his youthful Marauder team.

Three freshmen could see significant time. 6-1 guard Luke Ertel was the starting quarterback on the football team. He is also the younger brother of former Mt. Vernon Indiana All-Star Michael Ertel, now playing professional basketball overseas. Another frosh, 6-4 R’mani Wells is the younger brother of 2022 grad Rae Wells. A third freshman, 6-foot guard Julien Smith has already received Division I offers from Jackson State and IUPUI.

“This is going to be a really fun year for me as a coach,” Rhoades said. “I know the Jarrards started playing as sophomores, but we’re going to have a couple of these guys playing as freshmen. It’s just going to fun to see how they come together. We’re going to have some bumps along the way. Our plan is to be playing our best basketball in March.”

A sophomore guard, 6-2 Tanner Teschendorf is another youthful roster member expected to see some time, along with seniors Daylon King, Connor Schank, Adam Hackett, the tallest Marauder at 6-6, and junior Brady Fitzgerald. King saw the court in two varsity games last season. Fitzgerald played in one.

“I know we’re young, but I think we’re going to be very competitive and have a chance to win pretty much every game we play,” Rhoades said. “I think by the end of the season, we are going to be a team that can accomplish some of the same championships we’ve had the last couple of years. Does that mean they’re going to happen? No. They way these guys have come together in a short amount of time, they understand the ceiling is what they want it to be.

“They’ve seen a lot of their friends be successful the last couple of years. Our goal as a program is not for this to be something where you have rebuilding years. We don’t talk about rebuilding. We talk about maintaining and improving what we did the year before.”

The Marauders open the season tonight, at home, against Lawrence Central.

2022-23 Mt. Vernon boys basketball schedule

Date;Opponent;Time

Nov. 22;vs. Lawrence Central;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 26;at Covenant Christian;7:30 p.m.

Nov. 29;at Decatur Central;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 3;vs. Fishers;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 9;vs. Pendleton Heights;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 16;at Shelbyville;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 17;at Southport;7 p.m.

Dec. 22;vs. New Castle;7:30 p.m.

Dec. 29;at Roncalli Tournament;10:30 a.m.

Jan. 3;vs. Westfield;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 6;vs. Greenfield-Central;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 7;at Whiteland;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 13;vs. Avon;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 21;at Hamilton Southeastern;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 27;vs. Connersville;7:30 p.m.

Jan. 28;at Delta;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 2;at Noblesville;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 7;at Mooresville;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 11;vs. Pike;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 17;at New Palestine;7:30 p.m.

Feb. 24;vs. Yorktown;7:30 p.m.

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