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Warrensburg-Latham sophomore Ethan Yaroch embracing bigger role.
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Warrensburg-Latham sophomore Ethan Yaroch embracing bigger role.

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MACON — Vic Binkley isn't a stranger to coaching high school basketball. In his 32nd year as head coach of the Warrensburg-Latham boys basketball team, he knows when to strike on a lineup switch.

Last season, reigning Herald & Review Macon County Player of the Year, and current Millikin men's basketball player, Jarius Ingram was the engine that powered the team to 18 wins and a win in the Class 2A regional quarterfinals. But the Cardinals needed a spark around Ingram.

For the final three weeks of the regular season, Ethan Yaroch, then a freshman, had come off the bench to provide six points here or eight points there and found himself, at times, as the second-leading scorer. Binkley knew Yaroch could provide a spark in the postseason and plugged him into the starting lineup in a quarterfinal win over Argenta-Oreana and in the lineup for a semifinal loss to Monticello.

“I did horrible that game," Yaroch said. "I started playing more last year because we were in a slump scoring. ...  Coach decided to start playing me more. It wasn’t much of a role except for a spot-up shooter."

Those games down the stretch, and the two starts in regionals, provided valuable experience to build on. Now a 6-foot-5 sophomore, Yaroch is taking on a bigger role for the Cardinals (5-3), who will play Central A&M at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the semifinal round of the Macon County Tournament. He scored 11 points in Monday's win over Cerro Gordo-Bement, and is averaging 11 points, four rebounds, two blocks and three steals through eight games this season.

“We just knew it was time for him," Binkley said. "When we played Monticello the first time, they beat us by 30 and we took them to double overtime. I’m not saying it’s because of him, but the chemistry was there. He’s going to be a great player."

Yaroch is comfortable and hardly a post-player for Warrensburg, even if he is one of the tallest players on the court. His skill is driving to the hoop. Sure, he's got strength to add and assertiveness to bring, but Binkley sees flashes of Andy Calmes, who averaged 17.2 points as a senior in 2002 to lead the Cardinals to the state tournament.

Yaroch has a ways to go, but he's a mismatch for opposing defenses with his size, quickness and ability to drive to the hoop.

“We’ve got to get him to do that," Binkley said. "Once he figures that out, wanting the ball, get it and go to the basket, he’ll be a ton."

Last season was a jumping off point, but summer basketball was the icing on top for Yaroch to get comfortable. Each passing game provided more and more confidence. It helped with decision making and when to attack the rim. Binkley saw it and Yaroch felt the evolution in his game.

“The more games he played, he had a good summer for us," Binkley said. "He’s a good person to build a team around."

The Cardinals started just one senior — Andy Hardin — on Monday and two of their bench players were sophomores. There's going to be a grind-it-out process to games until roles are established and players are comfortable. They are all keenly aware of the time it will take to fully develop. Yaroch, though, as only a freshman is settling in nicely.

“I’m super comfortable now," Yaroch said. "Our team has a lot of great chemistry, but we’re still developing with our plays and all that."


PHOTOS: Monticello beats Warrensburg-Latham in last season's regional semifinals

Contact Joey Wagner at (217) 421-6970. Follow him on Twitter: @mrwagner25

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