SYRACUSE – Jon Everingham is the head coach for the Wawasee boys basketball team.
There, it’s been said.
That’s about all Everingham felt needed to be said about the tumultuous end to the 2018-19 season, one where his Warrior team reached the sectional final, then saw himself be released from his coaching duties just days later. After a reversal of mood from the Wawasee administration, Everingham was later reinstated, back where he wanted to be from the start.
And that’s how he handled it.
“There was enough time that passed from the transition of whether or not I was going to be the head coach, to me coming back, that there really wasn’t an issue going into the summer,” Everingham said. “When this season starts, it’s the summer, and we were running full force. We had guys committed from day one of the summer, and really, for a lack of a better word, there was no hangover from anything that happened in the spring.”
Rather than dwelling on the past, Everingham and his staff, which stayed fully in tact, decided to hit the ground running with offseason workouts in preparation for what the program feels could be a big season.
The mood of most around the Wawasee program, including Everingham, was the team was playing its best basketball down the stretch and into the sectional tournament, which saw the team pick up a win over West Noble to reach the championship game. Despite a loss to an equally red-hot Tippecanoe Valley squad in the final, Wawasee took that confidence into the offseason, and bring back a solid core of players looking to finish the job.
While Wawasee won’t be terribly old in its roster, it does bring back plenty of varsity-tested players. Just two of its five seniors are major returners in Austin Miller (11.8 points per game) and Ethan Hardy (6 ppg, 4.7 rpg). Miller was a perimeter shooter but developed some on-the-ball skill to get to the basket. Hardy made his time on the court in the post, also becoming a decent defender.
Ray Lenoir, Marten Kant and Jaydon Boyer are all varsity newcomers to round out the senior class.
Junior guard Kam Salazar (41 assists) give Wawasee a two-year presence on the point, and sophomore Keaton Dukes came on late, giving Wawasee a spark down the stretch and into the sectional.
Everingham, in his fourth season at Wawasee, also looks for juniors Justin Castro and Adam Beer, and sophomores Mason Possell, Jack Stover and Caden Welty to also impact the varsity as the season unfolds.
“This all starts with Austin and Ethan,” Everingham said. “When we needed a big shot, often we looked to Austin. When we established Ethan inside, our second half of the year took off. When you can establish both inside and outside like that, it can only help everyone else.”
Everingham, though, is aware that progress is one thing, results are another. The ultra-competitive head coach hasn’t broken six wins in any of his first three seasons and feels it’s time to put up and close out some of the tight contests.
“We’ve continued to build and taken no virtual steps backward,” Everingham said. “At some point, if you continue to build, the wins and the losses will spill over. We have so many personal success stories on and off the court, and add that to the culture we are building, and we think we can sustain success here.”