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Football team's success leads to quiet practices at St. Vincent
There have been a number of absent players in the early part of preseason practice at St. Vincent High School.
But that was fine with Indians coach Bruce Valleroy, who is also the athletic director at the school. Of the 14 players on the varsity roster, 11 are on the Indians football team, which was this area's last remaining football team in the state playoffs.
"We are doing it in football, so why not play some postseason basketball as well," Valleroy said.
The Indians have the components necessary to have the realistic goal of postseason basketball, especially since they dropped down to Class 2. Last year, St. Vincent was in Class 3 and despite a good regular season (14-9), the Indians were the last seed in the district and had to face perennial power Charleston in the opening round.
St. Vincent returns about 95 percent of its scoring from last year. The Indians have four returning starters -- senior point guard Alex Ambruster, senior guard Danny Rellergert, senior forward Pat Siegmund and senior forward Jacob DeWilde.
Ambruster, the quarterback on the football team as well as a pitcher on the Indians baseball team, is a two-time first-team all-Jefferson County small school pick. He averaged more than 16 points, six assists and three steals a game last year.
"Alex could probably score 30 a night if he wanted to, but we have four guys who could very well average in double figures, and Alex does a good job of distributing the ball," Valleroy said. "He penetrates and drives to the basket real well. He does a very good job of getting to the free-throw line."
Rellergert also averaged in double figures last year, averaging more than 11 points a game. He is a tight end on the football team and the area's leading receiver.
"Danny is an excellent athlete," Valleroy said. "He is a great jumper, a good defender and has a good outside shot."
DeWilde is another offensive threat. He averaged in double figures in the second half of the season and finished the year at 9.5 points per game.
Siegmund is one of the team's top defenders and usually guards the opponent's top offensive player.
Junior Waylon Richardet likely will be the other starter. The 6-foot-2 forward averaged 23 points a game for a junior varsity team. He was brought up to the varsity at the end of the year and scored 16 in the district game against Charleston.
"This is a team with a lot of potential," Valleroy said. "We are a bigger team than we have been in the past and we have a lot of experience. It is going to take us a while to gel with the success of the football team, plus we have a tough early schedule.
"We will probably be better after Christmas, but we always want to be playing our best in January and February. We have won or shared the conference small-school division seven of the last 10 years and want to do that again. Another goal is to win a district title."
The Indians have won only once, in 1987, but they will host for the first time and have dropped to the smaller classification.
St. Vincent opens Monday at Notre Dame.