ADAMS TWP — Experience and talent are two things all high school basketball coaches would love to have entering a season. Mars boys coach Rob Carmody is one of the few who will have plenty of both this year.
The Planets return almost every player from last year’s 18-8 team that reached the WPIAL quarterfinals and the state playoffs for the first time in program history.
Guards Mitch Buzard, Garrett Ashbaugh and Owen Nearhoof return as starters in the backcourt. Ashbaugh will start at point guard for the second straight season. Buzard led the Planets in scoring last year at 13.6 points per game and Nearhoof was right behind at 13.3. The duo combined for 82 three-pointers.
Forward Matt Getsy (6-foot-3) and center Josh Goetz (6-8) will provide a formidable presence in the frontcourt on both ends of the floor after combining to average over 15 points and 15 rebounds per game as juniors.
But Carmody is quick to point out that potential without results will simply lead to a disappointing year.
“We can’t just show up and expect to win games,” he said. “Nobody cares what we did last year. We have to be hungry to get better, hungry to compete. We have to be humble.”
The veteran coach has seen no letup in his team so far.
“We’re really pleased with the players’ approach in practice,” he said. “They are really getting after it.”
While Mars’ starting lineup is very good, it is the team’s bench that could make the difference in a lot of games this season.
Guards Zach May and Ben Erdahl, forward Alex Locher and center Adam Bayuk, among others, will see significant playing time.
“It’s a nice mix of kids and we have flexibility in our lineup,” said Carmody. “This team’s basketball skill has improved because they all play so much. They’ve all gotten bigger and stronger.
“It’s nice having an experienced team back,” he added. “It has allowed us to move at a faster pace in practice.”
Hampton, last year’s Section 1-AAA champion, has moved up to Class AAAA. The Planets’ section foes this season will include Freeport, Highlands, Indiana, Kittanning, Knoch and Valley.
Mars will host the first Scott Lang Memorial Tournament to begin the season Dec. 7-8. Seneca Valley, Ford City and Shady Side Academy will complete the field.
Carmody will be assisted by Mike Baumgartel and Paul Rubish.