Madison-Grant set to begin Cherry era

For the first time in seven years, a new face will lead the Madison-Grant boys basketball program. 

After multiple coaching stops, including Lafayette Central Catholic, Lafayette Jefferson, Pendleton Heights, and most recently, Hamilton Heights, Kevin Cherry was selected to be the Argylls’ next head coach, and he is grateful for the chance to lead a strong program rich in both talent and tradition. 

“The community, the tradition, and obviously the talent they had coming back [were appealing,]” Cherry said. “In that community, basketball still means something, so I thought this would be a great opportunity. It checked all the boxes that I needed to check. 

[Fans] are going to see a program where we do things the right way. It’s always going to be about the program and not one individual. We are going to put a product on the floor that I hope is disciplined and where effort is never a question. That’s the approach we want to take.”

It’s always a challenge to move into a new position in unfamiliar territory, and even more so in the midst of a global pandemic due to COVID-19 and the ensuing shutdown, teams practice was barred in June, a month typically dedicated to off-season basketball. Consequently, Cherry did not have the opportunity to spend a lot of time with his new team. 

However, the team put together a great July, according to Cherry, working out two days a week throughout the month, rebooting the culture, striving for continued improvement, and fostering competition.

Throughout the fall and into the early stages of the upcoming season, the focus for the Argylls under Cherry has been on gaining muscle and increasing physicality. After watching last year’s film, Cherry observed that the Argylls got pushed around at times by bigger, more physical teams, and he wants to reverse that trend. 

With the Argylls’ stout group of seniors leading the charge, Cherry believes that the team is positioned to make tremendous progress in this area. 

“We really stressed on getting in that weight room,” Cherry said. “I think that develops a mindset, too, of some toughness. Hopefully, we see that pay off. This senior group has been tremendous with their leadership. It’s an ideal situation for what we are going through. It’s always nice to have a senior-laden group, but especially in this COVID period.”

Unlike many of the teams in Grant County, the Argylls suffered minimal losses — one senior, Jonah Johnson to graduation — and returned all of their starting five players from a season ago.

 Grant Brown (13.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 6.3 apg) is a gifted, athletic specimen at the point guard position, who has showcased both his scoring and passing prowess in each of the last three years. Kaden Howell, the Argylls’ leading scorer at 14 points per contest, is also back, and will be relied on heavily in Cherry’s offensive system. Lance Wilson (11.6 ppg) really came on strong last year, and will look to continue his upward trend, while Justin Moore (9.5 ppg, 6.1 rpg) and Jackson Manwell (8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg) are solid in both the scoring column and on the glass. 

Seth Lugar, who averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds off the bench, will play a major role again, while juniors Jalon Taylor and Myer Miller will provide size in the post. Additionally, senior Zach Pretorious could crack the rotation with his shooting ability, while freshman Teagan Yeagy could also see playing time after a strong summer. 

While the Argylls have focused on a variety of areas in practice, including offensive sets and the fundamentals, their sharpest focus has been on defense, an area that Cherry believes is crucial to a basketball team’s success. 

“I think winning at a high level starts on the defensive end,” Cherry said. “We really stress being sound defensively. I’ve tried to take a little bit from each program that I’ve been at and develop that into what I want to do as part of my own program. They’ve got to be great on the defensive end. There are going to be nights where shots don’t go, but you can always be the team that wants to guard people.”

With the season just around the corner, Cherry is pleased with the progress the players have made and looks forward to going to leading them into battle throughout the 2020-2021 season. 

“I couldn’t be any more satisfied with the way they’ve picked things up,” Cherry said. “I’ve got great kids who are able to pick things up with very few reps. That’s a huge benefit.”  

Madison-Grant will begin their season on Tuesday, hosting Northwestern in a 7:30 start. 

“We want to compete to win a conference championship every year, we want to compete to win a sectional every year, and we want to compete to win a Grant Four every year,” Cherry said. “That’s our standard.”

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