Jonathan Alder’s varsity boys basketball team is pictured from left, front row, Will Heisler, Drew Begin, Grant Welsch, Preston Gower, Devon Richey, Jackie Santa-Emma and Connor Reed; back row, assistant coach Ryan McClain, manager Jameson Cook, assistant coach Scott Heiss, Daniel Heinig, Tyler Begin, Logan Stevens, Gavin Heimlich, Henry Walker, Jackson Izzard, assistant coach Mike Decker, head coach Zach Ross and assistant coach Thomas Urban. (Photo submitted)
There is a new face at the top of the Jonathan Alder High School boys basketball program.
Zach Ross is beginning his initial season at the Pioneer helm.
He was hired last summer after Brent Cahill stepped down during the spring after seven seasons as head coach.
Ross has one year of head coaching experience, as he guided Johnstown-Monroe to a 20-6 record last winter.
Ross has several solid lettermen back from a team that fell in the final seconds to Columbus Bishop Hartley during the Division II district semifinal contest.
Those veterans include Jackson Izzard, Daniel Heinig, Henry Walker, Jackie Santa-Emma, Drew Begin and Logan Stevens.
Izzard, Walker (a 6-7 post player) and Santa-Emma are the top returning scorers from a team that placed second in the Central Buckeye Conference Kenton Trail Division (8-2) during the 2018-19 campaign.
Alder finished with an overall mark of 18-7.
All three are capable of scoring in double figures on any given night.
Izzard averaged 12.6 points, while Santa-Emma scored 10.8 and Walker averaged 9.6.
Walker had to miss the game against Bishop Hartley last March as he was in concussion protocol after falling to the floor and striking his head during the previous game.
Ross said he was pleased with the off-season work the Pioneers put in last summer and what he’s seen so far during the preseason.
“We have a lot of team togetherness and a strong work ethic,” he said.
The lettermen will be joined by varsity newcomers Grant Welsch, Preston Gower and Tyler Begin.
Ross said the only area of concern for his team early in the season is finding a consistent balance.
The full Alder team got a late start in practice sessions due to the fact that Izzard, Will Heisler, Drew Begin, Tyler Begin and Stevens had to finish the Division III football playoffs.
They were part of an Alder gridiron squad that finished as regional runners-up on Nov. 22.
Ross said the Central Buckeye Conference schedule won’t be an easy road to travel.
“The CBC has some high-quality teams that challenge other teams to be ready each and every night,” he said. “We are just trying to get better one day at a time.”
The new coach said he wants to see progression with each practice session and game.
“We want to stack good days on top of good days,” he said. “We want to make sure we honor our culture and core values.
“I feel that if we do that, the results will favor us on the scoreboard.”
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