PITSBURG – The Franklin-Monroe Jets basketball program is coming off an exciting 2017-18 season with a 15-9 overall record and 10-2 in the Cross County Conference finishing in second place.
Last year’s team was heavily laden with seniors, 7 in total, gone are Kyle Ressler, Bryce Filbrun, Matthew Williams, Bryce Robison, Zach Cable, Cole McGlinch and Parker Hesler.
With that many graduating it leaves your next level players short on varsity experience, however, the Jets do have one returning player that any coach would be ecstatic to have and that is senior Ethan Conley.
Conley is an All-Ohio Blue Chip player and recently signed a National Letter of Intent to continue his playing days after high school with Ashland University. Conley currently sits in third place on the F-M all-time scoring list with 1,316 points and is eyeing the second place spot set by Jon Sass with 1,550 in 1997. Mike Cross is in first place with 2,204, an incredible mark that has stood since 1974.
Franklin-Monroe is coached by Troy Myers and the junior varsity is coached by Zane Shellabarger. Assistant coaches are Brad Wackler and Martin Maksvytis.
With the lack of experience besides Conley, coach Myers has needed the entire pre-season to evaluate talent and how the guys mesh together.
“What we lack in experience must be made up with our competitiveness and right now that competitive nature is good across the board,” Myers said.
“I think we have solidified our lineup, but only to a certain extent. We will play the five seniors and Jackson Crist (sophomore) with a combination of a few other younger kids relative to what the game requires. We have a couple young guys that are really making an effort to improve and use their brain to help their game. Not only them but the majority of our guys have done a great job being engaged in practice so that we get the most out of our time in there. I think there is a collective understanding of what’s necessary in terms of attention and focus relative to this group and everyone involved has honored that in the right way. Our coaches and seniors have been accountable for their work and actions throughout the offseason and now preseason, which in turn helps hold the younger kids accountable,” Myers added.
The varsity team is currently limited in personnel with five seniors and one sophomore.
Ethan Conley is a 6-foot-4 senior guard and can score the ball in a variety of ways, off the break, driving to the cup, the mid-range jumper and from beyond the arch. Teams will be focused on finding a way to slow him down this year, but look for Conley to lead the Jets again this year.
Jordan Rhoades is a 6-0 senior guard and last year an instant spark for the Jets off the bench. A high energy guy who goes hard when on the floor and will be a leader on the floor by his actions.
Connor Crist is a 6-4 senior forward and will be needed to help the team inside and controlling the glass on both ends of the floor.
Gage Vance is a 6-2 senior guard and will be seeing significant action this year and with his size can also give them a boost on the interior.
Luke Booher is a 6-1 senior forward who will provide physical support off the bench in the paint and provide a boost on defense.
Jackson Crist is a 6-0 sophomore guard and will be seeing a lot of action this year giving the Jets a boost offensively.
Coach Myers has now had time to evaluate his squad and is hopeful the Jets are ready to fly.
“I am cautiously optimistic about where we are at this point in the year. From a scheme standpoint we are behind any team we have had. However, that hasn’t been our focus. The main objective early on has been to establish the culture of this year’s team as it is and create a mentality on how we want to play. This team has put in the most time, hours wise, into preparation as any that we have had,” Myers said.
When looking at the Cross County Conference, Myers knows there will be a number of teams who will prove to be a stiff challenge.
“I think when you look at the Cross County Conference roster wise Ansonia and Arcanum both return a lot of skill players. National Trail may return the best roster and their backcourt is excellent. Bethel is really well coached and has good athletes that are hard to beat. Miami East under Coach Allen Mack and the system he has is always prepared and tough to play as well,” Myers stated.
The Jets, however, can’t be counted out when they have a player the caliber of Conley, and good kids as well will ensure they will be in the mix this year.
“One advantage we will have with this group is there athleticism and quickness. Most of them are interchangeable offensively and defensively which allows us to do some things we maybe couldn’t, or didn’t in the past,” Myers stated.
“One thing is for sure, we are putting some kids on the floor that love to compete and hate to lose. Those kids are a lot of fun to coach and you can accept the outcome when they think and play like that,” Myers concluded.