The Perryville boys’ basketball team has a whole new feel this year.
Gone is Josh Robinson who left this mark on the program leading the team in points, rebounds, and assists last season, along with other key cogs Aaron Mueller and Garrett Dix.
The Pirates will also have to deal with a new leader at the head of the bench in Coach Dustin Wengert.
Wengert spent seven years at Valle Catholic along with the last two years as the athletic director at Notre Dame. Wengert is taking over for Justin Dreyer who is now the athletic director at the school
Wengert inherits a 14-13 squad that will bring back a senior class that has limited varsity experience.
Zach Cissell spent much of last season in a bench role, while Bryce Flaherty was mostly on the junior varsity. Josh Kile, much like his coach is new to the program.
“We will rely a lot on Zach to lead this team and keep the calm on the floor,” Wengert said.
But that doesn’t mean the Pirates are void of experience at the varsity level;. Jeff Reseinbichler, Chase Brown, and Cole Gerstenberger return to add stability and height to the team. But with Wengert stepping in the players will have to prove themselves to the new regime.
“Everyone is one the same page when it comes to playing time,” Wengert said. “I’m not going to coach anyone any different, everyone has to reprove themselves.”
While the Pirates put up 80 points on multiple occasions last season, Wengert will approach each game with more of a defensive mentality.
“We will try to get up and down the floor,” Wengert said. “But if it’s not working, I’m not opposed to going to a 2-3 zone and packing it in. If that’s what we have to do to be successful on a given night than that’s what we will do.”
But with Robinson gone, who averaged over 19 points per game last season out of the picture, the team still needs to find it’s offensive identity .
“I’ll let that develop over time,” Wengert said. “If we get in some tight games over the course of the season and we need someone to make that last shot, I’ll see who is hot that night. Right now I don’t know who that is, but he will show himself I’m sure over the course of the year.”
The team is employing a new set of plays and rules in their offensive scheme, that Wengert sees as a point of weakness.
“We aren’t strong at that right now,” Wengert said. “But that will come together once we get used to it and playing with each other.”
However, if Wengert needs a helping hand, Dreyer is right there to help the Pirate first year coach.
“I know it was hard for him to step away and I’ve asked questions about certain things and players and what they do best,” Wengert said. “But for the most part he has stayed away and let me run the ship to see what I can do.”