In a matter of a week, Charleston will get another shot at Mount Zion, but with different implications on the line. Last week, Charleston met the Braves in the championship of the Paris Thanksgiving Tournament. The Braves got the best of Charleston, but now the team gets a second chance to take down the team in the Apollo Conference. 

Here is the preview of tonight’s game. 

Team Records: Charleston (3-2) vs. Mt. Zion (4-0)

Where: Baker Gym

Tickets: Tickets can be purchased at Baker Gym. 

School Size: Charleston (796), Mt. Zion (763)

JV Tip-Off: 6:00 p.m.

Varsity Tip-Off: 7:30 p.m.

Opponent’s History: In the summer of 2019, former Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond boys basketball coach, Dale Schuring, was named the head coach of Mt. Zion. In his first season at Mt. Zion, the team finished 7-26. Last year, the team finished 1-14 to bring his Mt. Zion coaching total to 8-40 overall in two years. However, in 15 years as the boys’ coach of ALAH, Schuring compiled a 268-150 overall record. His tenure also included a 121-98 record in eight seasons as the girls’ basketball coach. Mount Zion’s program hasn’t had a winning season since the 2016-2017 season.  

Mount Zion’s Past Results: Mount Zion won the Paris Thanksgiving Tournament. In the championship game, the Braves defeated Charleston 64-44, but both teams were tied at halftime. To get to the championship, Mount Zion defeated Paris 57-49, Georgetown-Ridgefarm 76-23, and South Vermillion (IN) 58-49. 

“It is a new year and a new season,” said head coach Dale Schuring. “We have the ability to score this year and rebound, both of those aspects of the game were extremely difficult for us to execute last year.”

Mount Zion’s Top Players: According to coaches around the league, 6-foot-3, 170-pound senior Jack Driscoll could be an All-Apollo selection. On paper, the Braves have height. The team has 6-foot-7 junior Carson Cuddy, 6-foot-6 sophomore Gage Owens, and 6-foot-5 senior Ryan Clark. 

“We have been significant contributions from everybody we have put on the floor so far,” said Schuring. “We have been led by Ethan Hamrick and Carson Cuddy so far.  I have been impressed and a little surprised by how well our freshmen, Sam Driscoll and Brayden Trimble, have been playing and contributing.  I’m looking forward to getting Nathan Hart Jr. back this week and Lyncoln Koester back around Christmas. They were both projected as starters during the pre-season.”

Mount Zion’s Team Stats:  Individual stats are unavailable. The team’s offense is averaging 73.75 points per game. 

Charleston’s Past Results: Charleston dropped their home opener to Robinson on Tuesday. The Trojans lead for the majority of the game, but let their lead slip away late in the game in a 75-61 loss. In the championship of the Paris Thanksgiving Tournament, Charleston was defeated by Mt. Zion 64-44. Jaksen Braun has led Charleston in scoring in multiple games and is pegged by multiple Apollo coaches as a contender for All-Apollo this year. 

“Jaksen works extremely hard at perfecting his craft on the basketball court,” said Drone. “He is a guy that puts in the time and effort every day to get better, and it makes me happy to see his hard work pay off.  Jaksen does everything he can to help his team. He rebounds, he often guards the opponent’s best player, he passes, he is a rim protector, and he is one of the guys we look to when we need a score offensively. He affects the game in so many ways and is an extremely valuable asset for this team.” 

Charleston’s Team Stats:  Jaksen Braun and William Applegate were named to the All-Tournament Team at Paris. Grady Smitley is coming off a 12-point performance against Mt. Zion, where he led all scorers. Applegate scored 11 points and led the Trojans in scoring against Paris with 16 points.

“William has a terrific outside shot and a quick first step which allows him to get to the rim and finish effectively,” said Drone. “His athleticism allows him to be one of the best on-ball defenders we have on the team. Grady Smitley and Caleb Oakley are both coming off solid tournaments. Both players can defend and both players are very smart on the floor. Grady is a floor general and leader. He also has one of the best shots on the team. His finishing ability is also improved and he will continue to be one of the guys we look for on the offensive side of the floor this year. Caleb has one of the highest motors on the team. He is a great defender and someone we look to when starting our offense.”

What Mount Zion Said: “Beating them a second time with such a quick turnaround and at their place will be extremely difficult,” said Schuring. “ I think the way we played in the second half of the first game is a good recipe for us to repeat.  We played very good defense and took quality shots.”

What Charleston Said: “One of our major goals with them is blocking out and limiting Mt. Zion to one shot each possession,” said Drone. “On Friday, we struggled to keep them off the offensive glass. For us to be successful we will need to have five guys blocking out and going after every defensive rebound. Second-chance points off offensive rebounds played a crucial role in the first half for their success. Heading into the 4th quarter down only 39-34 we were tired. We had a couple of players have some injuries and overall ran out of gas as a team in the 4th quarter. We had a tough game against Paris earlier in the day and it showed in that 4th quarter against Mt. Zion. In all, I am proud of this team and how we continued to fight even when we hit the point of exhaustion. For this week, bench depth is a priority, and finding more guys we can count on to provide productive minutes.”