Gettysburg’s Trent Ramirez-Keller takes a shot during a game last season. Ramirez-Keller is the leading returner scorer in the Times Area after averaging 18.1 points per game as a junior.

The 2020-21 season for the Gettysburg boys’ basketball team was anything but normal and not all of it had to do with the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Covid did affect how the Warriors went about getting their offseason work in and also caused the regular season to be shortened by four games, the team also experienced a coaching change in early October and returned just two of its top seven minutes earners from the previous season.

Following the resignation of former head coach Lawrence Williams, current head coach Marc McLean was appointed to lead the program in early October.

McLean was dealt a tough hand, not just due to the graduation of Charles Warren (the school’s fourth all-time leading scorer) and fellow three-year starter Zach Ketterman, but first team all-state selection Quadir Copeland transferred out of the program and reserves Asher Baddick and Taysean Foster chose not to play.

“I knew that it was going to be a struggle for us last season,” McLean said. “We had very little varsity experience back from the previous year and the jayvee team that year was really bad.”

This past summer was much closer to normal.

“We had a great offseason this year,” McLean said. “We played a lot of basketball and I like to think that we got a lot better.”

The only two returnees from the previous year were Trent Ramirez-Keller and Mikey Hankey, both of whom served primarily as spot-up shooters mainly to spread the floor for Copeland and Warren to go to work on the offensive end. Ketterman wasn’t a big scorer, but he provided quality work on the glass and defended the opposing team’s biggest player.

Ramirez-Keller posted 5.8 ppg as a sophomore, but upped that to 18.1 ppg last season, good for second in the Times Area and he’s the top returning scorer in the area this season. He also connected on 81 percent of his free throws last season and made 24 3-pointers. Ramirez-Keller had a high-game of 37 points and went over 20 points in seven of the Warriors’ final ten games of the season.

“It was different last year and I really wasn’t ready for it at the start of the season,” Ramirez-Keller said of being a leader. “I had to adjust to it and I’m still adjusting to it. That’s been my biggest focus going into this year. I want to be more vocal and bring the guys together better.”

Hankey went from 7.4 ppg to 12.2 ppg and went for 20 or more points three times in 14 games last season. He missed four games due to a concussion.

Ramirez-Keller at 5-foot-8 and Hankey at 6-0 will make up the starting backcourt for Gettysburg with Ramirez-Keller operating as the point guard and Hankey holding down the two-spot.

“Trent and Mikey are our leaders, no doubt. They’ve got by far the most experience of anyone on the team,” McLean said. “But we’ve got some other talented guys on the roster and I feel that we have a good group of sophomores, too.”

Slated to start up front are 6-foot-5 senior forward Ethan Wagner, 6-foot-3 senior forward Brandon Myers and 6-foot-6 sophomore center Brody Wagner.

“Ethan and Brody have both gotten a little bit taller and they’ve each added 25 pounds since the end of last season. We put in a new strength and conditioning program this offseason and they’ve really attacked it.” McLean said. “Myers is a new player for us this year and he might be the most athletic guy on the team. He’s got long arms and we think he can defend multiple positions effectively.”

A pair of sophomores, Ian McLean and Josh Herr, are expected to be the first two off the bench. McLean was the team’s third-leading scorer last season as he checked in at 5.7 ppg.

While the offense wasn’t great at 46.7 ppg, it was the defensive end that proved to be even more problematic as the Warriors allowed 65.6 ppg with opponents failing to score at least 60 points only four times out of 18 games.

“We’ve got to change the culture of our defense and we have to be able to stop our opponents,” Marc McLean said. “If we don’t change our defensive approach, we aren’t going to win a lot of games and reach the potential that we think we’re capable of.”

Undefeated in YAIAA-2 in 2019-20, the Warriors fell to 1-11 last season, but they’re hoping to leave the conference and return to the MId-Penn Conference on a much higher note next season.

“I think we can win the division this year,” Ramirez-Keller said. “A lot of teams graduated a lot last year and we have almost everyone back.”

McLean said of the team’s chances, “I think we’re capable of playing with anyone in the division. West York and Susquehannock would be considered the favorites and Eastern York is huge, but I think we can play with any of them.”

Gettysburg will begin its 2021-22 campaign by hosting the GWABC Tip-Off Tournament on Friday Dec 10. The Warriors will face New Oxford at 7:30 p.m. with Shippensburg and Lancaster Mennonite clashing in the opener that evening.

Follow Tom Sixeas on Twitter at @TomSixeas

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