The Cumberland Valley Christian Blazers are coming off one of the best boys basketball seasons in the school’s history, but they are not being complacent.
They return seven of their top eight players from last year’s 23-2 team, which finished first in the Mason-Dixon Christian Conference regular season and then steamrolled Calvary and Heritage to win the MDCC tournament.
The Blazers open the MDCC portion of their schedule Friday evening at home against Heritage.
Two of the returning players are 1,000-point scorers Caleb Eckert and Blaine Minnier, who reached the scoring milestone a week apart in January. Eckert has also pulled down more than 1,000 career rebounds. Both were MDCC first-team players last year, and Eckert was MVP in the regular season and in the MDCC tournament.
The two seniors led the way in last week’s season opener, a non-league victory over Carlisle Christian. Eckert scored 29 points, grabbed 25 rebounds and handed out 11 assists, and Minnier scored 17 points.
Also returning are seniors Isaac Kauffeldt and Ryan Winters. Kauffeldt was named to the MDCC all-tournament team last season. Point guard Nollin Egolf also returns. Egolf was a first-team MDCC selection last year.
Junior Josh Rowe, last year’s sixth man, remains in that spot. Sophomore Aaron Minnier will also see a lot of playing time.
Here are coach Austin Sanders’ thoughts on the coming season.
- “We have been blessed to be able to have a preseason this year. Although we have had to have a couple of guys miss practice here and there, we have been able to have a full practice schedule, and we haven’t taken it for granted.”
- “Coming off our season last year, we had a pretty good idea of what kind of team we would have this year. Obviously we have our core guys with four seniors and Nollin as our primary ball handler, but we also feel like we have two to three other guys who can make an impact. Josh Rowe is a guy who has put a lot of work in this past offseason and it is translating positively in practice.”
- “Caleb has gotten better and will have an opportunity to really turn some heads this year. We are looking for Blaine to continue to make big shots for us and continue his consistency on offense. I have given Nollin more freedom to lead and call plays, and I’m excited to see how he flourishes in that role. Isaac is our best defender, and he will look to continue to build on that role, and Ryan has continued to improve and we look forward to seeing his role expand throughout the season.”
- “Obviously this is going to be an unprecedented season. Our message and focus is to take it one day at a time and play like we won’t be able to play tomorrow. At the same time, it is our goal to make sure this team and especially these seniors are able to have a full season. They have given a lot to this program and, at the end of the day, I want to give the same amount of effort in providing them an opportunity to see it through.”