ARCOLA — The Arcola boys basketball team is 2-0, having defeated Urbana University High 57-46 Nov. 27 and nipping Tri-County 51-46 last Friday.
The Purple Riders return four players from last year's 11-17 team, one that went 2-4 in the Little Okaw Valley Conference Northwest Division.
Four players are gone from last year due to graduation, including Blake Lindenmeyer, a member of the JG-TC All-Area team and unanimous first-team all-LOVC NW Division player. Lindenmeyer led the Purple Riders in scoring at 18 points per game. He also led in steals at 1.8. The other graduates were Javi Alanis, Angel de la Garza and Dylan Shields.
"The four seniors from last year's team all contributed to the team and will be missed," said Arcola coach Mike Shaffer.
Returning lettermen are senior Nick Vaughn, juniors Myles Roberts and Kaleb Byard, and sophomore Hugo Garza. Roberts earned second-team all-LOVC NW Division honors last season and is the top returning scorer at 11.4 points per game. Byard averaged 3.7.
"Our strength should be our inside game with Roberts, and so far we seem to have pretty good chemistry," said Shaffer.
A total of 24 players are in the program, including two seniors, six juniors, five sophomores and 11 freshmen.
"We are an inexperienced team overall, so we will have a lot of kids getting their first varsity experience," said Shaffer.
Roberts had a double-double against Uni High with 28 points and 12 rebounds, while Byard was also in double digits with 15 points. Against the Titans, Roberts had 12 points and eight rebounds, while Garza had a team-high 13 points.
"We will try and develop depth early, and hopefully by the end of the year, we will have several players off the bench who are capable of contributing," said Shaffer.
Arcola averaged 58.1 points per game and allowed 59.9 last year.
"We will need to get better on defense, so that has been an emphasis in practice," said Shaffer.
Two assistant coaches join the staff in Jim Crane and Corey Roberts, a 2012 Arcola graduate, who was part of two regional championship teams (2010 and 2012) under current Lake Land assistant coach Chad Graves. Randy Swartz, last year's assistant, did not return.
Arcola is to play host to WSS Tuesday in a non-conference game.