Sports Editor Emeritus, Perry County News
Matt Lynch is Tell City’s 11th boys basketball coach since Bob Lochmueller and is the only one in that span to compile a career winning record with the Marksmen, going 50-26 in his first three seasons.
Now his team is shooting for another mark not compiled since the days of Lochmueller: a fourth consecutive winning season.
Lochmueller had only one losing season in his 15 years at the Marksmen’s helm, going 9-14 in 1975-76.
Then he finished his Tell City coaching career with four straight winning seasons, going 14-7 in 1976-77, 18-3 in 1977-78, 16-5 in 1978-79, and 14-8 in 1979-80.
The longest streak of winning seasons the Marksmen have had since is three under Coach John Hayes 2005-08 and the current three under Lynch.
Unfortunately for the current Marksmen, their situation is most similar to Lochmueller’s 1975-76 season.
Both teams were coming off seasons in which they were sectional champions and regional runners-up, but both graduated all five starters and their top reserve from the preceding season.
Lynch removed three Class A teams from the Marksmen’s schedule the last three years and added Class 4A powers Castle and Jasper.
Considering the current team’s lack of experience, few would have blamed Lynch if he had added those Class A teams back to the schedule, but he did not.
Jasper remains on it. Castle is gone but has been replaced by another Class 4A power, Jeffersonville.
“They’re even stronger than Castle,” Lynch said of the Red Devils. “They have three (NCAA) Division I players - two have already (committed).”
Clarksville Providence and Daviess County, Ky. are other new opponents.
“Our schedule is similar to, if not stronger, than last year’s,” said Lynch.
This year’s Marksmen compiled a 19-3 JV record last year, which should give them some confidence.
“I think they understand what it takes to win and they expect to win - that goes a long way,” said Lynch. “They had to find ways to win some close games last year.”
And while the 1975-76 Marksmen started no one taller than 6-foot-2, the current Marksmen have 6-6 Dylan Mathena, who posts up strongly, in the middle.
“Dylan’s improved a lot inside,” said Lynch.
Mathena had to guard Braeden Beard, Tell City’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder, in practice last year.
“It helped my defensive game a lot for sure,” said Mathena. “And it taught me never to give up on plays because he was always relentless.”
Other players from last year’s JV who will be among the team’s top seven varsity players this year are seniors Devin Pruitt, Joe Gaynor, Davis Tran and Owen Noble, junior Kaden Chestnut and sophomore Keaton Lloyd.
While Mathena does not have Beard’s outside shooting ability, the Marksmen have some good shooters.
“I think they all can shoot (from the perimeter) besides Dylan,” said Lynch. “Devin, Owen and probably Chestnut are our top three shooters.”
To have another winning season, though, “defense is what we have to hang our hat on again,” said Lynch. “And it’s not close to the level we need to be at.
“We’ll also have to take care of the ball. Turnovers could potentially be a problem.”
Those were also problems for the 1975-76 Marksmen at times. But they improved steadily throughout the season and advanced to the sectional championship game before losing to eventual regional champion Boonville.
Lynch would no doubt like to see such steady improvement from this year’s Marksmen as well.