High school basketball in most places is the same now as it was 30 or 40 years ago. If a team is fortunate, it has two good players, one or two decent players, and enough role players to be successful.
If a team is really fortunate, they might have one guy who by the definition of a college or pro scout might be a positionless player. That is, someone who can play multiple positions offensively and defensively, giving his team the ability to create mismatches.
Imagine how good Eldorado boys coach Josh Bradley feels most nights. His team has three players who can play up to four positions on the floor and two who can initiate halfcourt offense off a dribble or a pass.
Not surprisingly, the Eagles were 25-1 overall and 7-0 in the Black Diamond Conference East, heading into the weekend.
“It’s a huge advantage,” Bradley said earlier this week. “Take (Braden) Attebury, who plays a post for nine of 10 coaches, but we can play him on the floor. It gives us a lot of mismatches.”
The 6-foot-4 Attebury, who can overpower smaller defenders and shoot over taller ones, is the go-to player for Eldorado. His 3-pointer Tuesday night as time expired gave the Eagles a 44-41 win at Carmi-White County and a second straight conference title.
Attebury averages 17 points and 11 rebounds per game, but if opponents pay too much attention to him, the Eagles can rely on four other players for double-figure scoring.
Six-three senior forward Ray May is hitting for 11.3 points and averaging five steals per game. The team’s sixth man last year, when they went 28-4, May has made a serious jump from role player to key cog.
“It’s just confidence with him,” Bradley said of May. “He’s a finisher at the hole, and he gets his hands on everything (on defense). His confidence has grown.”
Another 6-3 senior, John Meredith, is the ultimate glue player. Meredith can run the offense or hunt his shot while using his length to cause turnovers, either with steals or forcing bad passes. He averages 10 ppg, and doled out nine assists last Friday in a 74-47 romp over Fairfield.
“Any time we have an opportunity to get him on a smaller guard, we try to get him into the post because he may have some of the best post moves on this team,” Bradley said of Meredith.
SIU football signee Jacob Traxler, a 6-5 senior, contributes 10 points and 11 rebounds per game. He had 16 points against Fairfield while appearing to have maybe one or two plays called for him. Traxler is ferocious on the offensive glass.
Point guard Kale Oglesby, who’s signed to play college baseball at McKendree, doesn’t score much but doesn’t need to most of the time. Oglesby averages nine assists per game.
Off the bench, Eldorado can call on 6-3 junior Joe Mayberry, who averages 10.2 ppg and will probably be one of the area’s best players next year when Bradley has to replace an all-senior lineup.
The Eagles’ only loss occurred Jan. 30 at home to Class 3A Murphysboro, a game Bradley wanted his team to play in order to see what they needed to address for what they hope is a long postseason run.
“We talk a lot about small things, not giving up second-chance opportunities,” he said. “We had a lot of turnovers against Murphy and it cost us a game. We saw that it can cost us, but we can build off it and learn from it.
“Every team’s goal is to win the conference, a (in-season) tournament and then the regionals. You do have added pressure on you, but the end goal is still what it is. Once you win the regionals, everything has to fall in place for you.”
With experience and versatility on its side, Eldorado is equipped to take a long drive up north in March.