Chart toppers: Area boys' basketball teams to watch in 2012-13, courtesy staff writer Jeff Huth

Chart toppers: Area boys' basketball teams to watch in 2012-13, courtesy staff writer Jeff Huth

No. 1

St. Joseph-Ogden

Brian Brooks might be the most impatient coach in the area ... for the start of the 2012-13 season, that is. His Spartans lose only one starter from a Class 2A regional title team that finished 23-8. Junior guard Chase Patton has been a high-impact player for a couple of years, along with classmate Louis Acklin. And with returning sophomore starters Nate Michael — a sharpshooter in the Patton mold — and Brent Schluter, the SJ-O arrow should continue to point up beyond next season.

No. 2


Dale Schuring's Knights return five starters from a 19-12 team that made a startling run to the Class 1A sectional finals. Startling because of Arthur's youth. Three of its starters were sophomores and a fourth was a freshman. Schuring's son, freshman forward Tyler, gives the Knights a scoring threat from distance, and the Knights again will have two strong rebounders in Andrew Maxwell and Evan Seegmiller.

No. 3


The Class 3A regional finalists return three starters from a 13-17 team that was playing its best basketball down the stretch. Winners of five of their last six games, the Chargers finished fourth in the Big 12 Conference. In sophomore center Michael Finke and junior forward Phillip Wright, Centennial again should be strong in the frontcourt. Junior Dustin Walls, a returning starter at guard, can expect to play a more prominent role.

No. 4

St. Thomas More

The Sabers return some key pieces from a Class 2A regional finalist that went 18-10 in coach James Kinney's first season at the helm. Chief among them is 6-foot-4 sophomore Jaycee Hillsman, who ranked among the area's leaders in scoring, three-point field goals and steals. No one in the area attempted or made more foul shots than the aggressive Hillsman. Junior guard Kevin Carroll is another varsity vet with proven ability.

No. 5


The Vikings lose two senior starters but return everyone else from a young team that took its lumps during an 8-19 season but still managed a winning Big 12 record (7-6). If the returnees can turn lessons learned into steps forward, a group with talent should make some noise next season. Donte Ingram and Trent Sherfield lead a large sophomore contingent (four of whom started at least one game) that logged significant varsity minutes,