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Getting stronger

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Morristown guard Kyle Crim puts up a shot near the basket in a contest against Shelbyville last season.
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Morristown forward Trevon Carlton blocks a shot during a contest last season. Carlton will be a senior this coming school year.
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Morristown forward Sawyer Jones drives to the basket in a game last season.

By KRIS MILLS - kmills@shelbynews.com

MORRISTOWN — As a head coach who has won a state championship, Morristown's Scott McClelland knows what it takes to make it to the top. Despite repeating as sectional champs last season, McClelland said his Yellow Jackets needed to be stronger.

A 22-win season is nothing to be ashamed of, but McClelland has rechanneled his focus this summer. He wants more than a sectional title. In order for Morristown to do so during the upcoming season, the longtime head coach has made sure his players have spent plenty of time in the weight room this offseason.

“I told the boys, if the IHSAA said we can only focus on one thing, which they don’t, we would have just lifted (weights) this summer,” McClelland said. “We made a real effort in May and June to get stronger.

“I thought last year, as good of a season that we had, some of our physical strength got exposed at times. I just felt like we needed to get that shored up. Other than that, we have tried to stay consistent with our workouts.”

The Yellow Jackets, fresh off their state title win, finished 22-5 last season after losing two lethal scorers. Now, with 2018 guards Logan Laster (21.3 points per game), Logan Theobald and Kameron Crim lost to graduation, Morristown has players adapting to new roles.

As McClelland noted, the 2019-20 Yellow Jackets will be different.

“We have eight to 10 guys who are looking to contribute. I really like the nucleus of kids we have,” McClelland said. “I think we have really solid kids right now.”

Entering his 13th season at the school, McClelland may have one of his best shooting teams to date, he said. One through eight on the roster can knock down a shot, which will help stretch the floor. In past seasons, the team has not had that type of shooting ability.

Junior guard Kyle Crim and senior forward Trevon Carlton return with the most experience and played key roles on the state team in 2018. Crim is the only returning player in the county who was named First Team All-County last season. The other four have graduated. Carlton made the second team and finished the year shooting 66 percent from the field.

Crim, who scored 14.3 ppg last season, has added 13 pounds of muscle to his frame. Carlton (10.5 ppg), while also adding muscle, has been improving his individual game.

“With Kyle, he is probably going to get the other teams best defender now, night in and night out,” McClelland said. “He has got to be able to maintain being guarded and not getting wore down. He had a good summer.

“Trevon is going to be a four-year starter and has a chance to have an incredible year. I am tickled to death with the summer he had. We talked to him about being able to create his own shot. He did a great job of drawing fouls this summer.”

Senior guard Matty Livezey, senior forward Garret Jones, junior guard Drake Moore and junior forward Sawyer Jones also return with varsity experience. All the above players add energy to the lineup.

Opposing coaches and players might not recognize Moore, however, as the pure shooting guard has finally began to grow into his body.

“Everyone knows Drake can shoot the ball, but he has put on 12 pounds and is just now 6-0,” McClelland said. “He has finally grown some. He has committed himself to getting stronger.

“We have some other pieces back. Livezey and Sawyer Jones played some key minutes last year. Sawyer is just that stable presence and Livezey has worked incredibly hard. And I think Garret is going to make the most of his senior season.”

Sophomore guard Quentin Batton and Southwestern transfer Austin Blocher, a junior guard, will help fill out the main rotation. Both have shown they can contribute with their shooting and ball handling skills this summer.

Morristown spent its June traveling to various camps, including stops at Purdue University, Marian University, Centerville and Whiteland.

“We played 14 varsity games in June and worked out three days a week,” McClelland said. “July, we cut back a lot. We always do our returning lettermen outing, too. We go and talk about our goals for the upcoming year. Then we are getting ready for school to start.”

As for preseason workouts, it will be back to the weight room for the Yellow Jackets. How the team plays on the defensive end moving forward is another concern for McClelland.

“Weights are going to be a huge emphasis again in the fall,” McClelland said. “And our defense right now, it is awful. That is where we will miss guys like our (past seniors). We aren’t going to have a Logan Laster or a Logan Theobald who can guard five positions. We are going to have to figure that out (in the fall). Our preseason is going to be really tough.”

Kris Mills is the Sports editor of The Shelbyville News. Follow Kris on Twitter @KrisMills37.