By Dennis Glade
Leaders come in all sizes, shapes and ages too.
Barr-Reeve forward Addison Wagler may only be a sophomore, but he relishes the opportunity as the leader of this year’s Vikings team.
Following a 2011-12 season that saw the Barr-Reeve boys basketball team finish with 20 wins, the Vikings’ season ended with a disappointingloss to rival Loogootee in the sectional.
Coach Bryan Hughes lost five seniors to graduation, including four starters. Wagler was the only non-senior starter last season, but he didn’t play like a freshman.
Wagler averaged 10.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per game to go along with a 58.9 field goal percentage. While Wagler was the Vikings second leading scorer behind Ashton Wagler, he didn’t command the kind of attention that he will get this season.
Wagler scored 12 points to lead the Vikings to a season opening win Nov. 21 against Washington at the Hatchet House.
“Last year I had the four seniors, it made it a lot easier, especially with Matt Schwartzentruber creating a lot of open shots for me,” Wagler said. “This year is going to be a lot harder, I have to create my own shots.”
On the way to a 20-3 record last season, the Vikings outscored its opponents by 19.5 points per game, while averaging 56 points per game. Barr-Reeve featured four players that averaged eight points per game or higher. Wagler said that won’t be the case this season, if the Vikings want to advance past the sectional they will have to grind some games out.
“We need to play as a team,” Wagler said.
“We’re not going to be able to score it that well this year, we need to be a scrappy defensive team this year.”
Hughes said last year, the 6-4 freshman became the Vikings go-to-guy on the inside late in the season. With a strong freshman campaign behind him, Wagler will lead a team that will feature four seniors.
“He’s proved he can play the game at that level,” Hughes said. “Everyone understands that he needs to be our leader on the floor. When I say that I’m not necessarily referring to a vocal leader. I’m referring to a kid that needs to go out there and get things done for us.”
With the confidence of Hughes, a coach in his 21st year at Barr-Reeve with a record of 335-138, Wagler is looking forward to the challenge.
“Personally I don’t mind the pressure,” Wagler said. “I enjoy being the go-to-guy.”
Last season, Wagler primarily played in the post, shooting the ball at the nearly 60 percent clip. This season, he feels he has extended his range outside of the paint. That will stretch opposing defenses, and open up more opportunities for his teammates. Hughes said the biggest thing that Wagler brings to the Vikings is his impressive toughness and strength.
“He’s just a very tall, physical player, who at times can step out and make some finesse moves that you wonder where that came from, because of the strength that he plays the game with,” Hughes said.
Leaders are looked at in all different roles, from someone who leads by example by scoring the most points to a vocal leader in the locker room. Wagler sees all of those factors as things that make a strong leader.
“Leading is controlling your team,” Wagler said. “Making sure everything is going smoothly, and being vocal and keeping things under control.”