Elder Basketball 2023 Season Recap

A team worth keeping an eye on in the playoffs.

Juniors Tyler Johnson and Drew Murphy along with Seniors Carson Browne and Sam Whitmer celebrating a big win at Cintas Center vs. Fairfield. (Picture credit to Ryan Brass’ Snapchat story)

Elder basketball has put themselves together one heck of a year up to this point. At one point in the season, putting themselves all the way up to number one in the city and number six in the state (per MaxPreps), their success has been heavily noticed. Huge key wins against Fairfield, Turpin, and two against Saint Xavier so far have put the Panthers in a really good spot heading into the postseason. They have already secured the #2 seed in the Southwest Ohio bracket with their likely playoff sequence going Aiken, then Middletown, then Sycamore through districts.

Getting a chance to talk to Sam Whitmer about the Panthers’ success, he let me know that it did not happen overnight. They can thank a grueling couple of months of preparation for currently reaping the benefits of their success right now.

Sam says, “We’ve been doing pretty well thus far. We did a lot during the summer and fall including open gyms and lifting to get ready for the season. We have definitely put ourselves in a good position for the postseason and to succeed.”

Sam has been a leader for this team all year. As he has been running point guard and bringing the ball up the court for this team most of the year, he has shown that when he needs to shoot it for his team, that’s exactly what he does. Putting up a slight 21 vs. LaSalle and 18 against X to help secure wins for his team, it’s obvious that the ball needs to be in this kid’s hands especially if the Panthers want to make a deep run in the playoffs.

An old edit of Browne and Whitmer from earlier in the season made by Noah Tauber ’26

Sam’s dynamic partner this year, Carson Browne, has also been a key to this team’s success so far. With Browne almost averaging a double-double this year (15PPG & 8RPG), he boosts this team’s value going into the tournament. With his scoring ability near the hoop and his help on the boards, the Panthers are typically in good shape when Carson is on the floor. 

In Carson’s assessment of the season up to this point, he gave me two key pieces of their mindset all year. Carson tells me “you gotta beat the best to be the best, and talent wins games, but teamwork wins championships.” Taking a championship is exactly what this team looks to do this season, but just as Carson says, they’re going to have to “beat the best.”

While these two senior leaders have been key pieces of this year’s team, there have been some young guys stepping into roles as well to help this team. Drew Murphy, Ryan Brass and Tyler Johnson have been three juniors that have stepped into roles this season with Murphy and Johnson complimenting this team’s offensive scheme while Brass has helped defensively. 

With many teams concentrating on the coverage of Sam and Carson, Drew and Tyler have shined in their own moments for this team knocking down big shots. Sophomore Cameron Williams has also done his part in helping this squad as he is just simply a tough, aggressive player that doesn’t back down to anyone. These young guys are definitely going to be a huge part of this team during the postseason, and they’re up for the challenge.

The Prestigious Coach Schoenfeld

Every good team seems to have a motto or slogan that they go by or define themselves as throughout the course of a season. When asked, Coach Schoenfeld took a minute to think, then said, “I’d say this season’s group just really plays for each other. There’s nobody out on that floor that thinks they’re the main guy or most important guy. They’re just a really selfless, hard-working team that loves to get after it on defense.”

Coach Schoenfeld is extremely complimentary of this team because of the work they have put in each day in the offseason and regular season.

“They’re a really fun group to coach. They prepare well every day, and we haven’t had a bad practice all year. We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves; we just take care of the matter at hand or the team we face during practices that week.”

Energy is something else that coach really stressed during our conversation. He says, “We love to play with a lot of energy because it’s contagious; not just for our own players but the student fans and season-ticket holders. Fans appreciate the energy that our team brings, whether it be our starting guys or our role-playing seniors. People like Sal (Nick Salamone), T (Todd Tieman), Grady, and Rudy (Jake Rudemiller) they just really get after it at practice. They may be practicing with the second team during practice, but they work their tails off every day at practice, and that just makes everyone better.”

I finished our conversation by asking Coach Schoenfeld if he thinks that the portable pit, or Elder’s 6th man, makes a difference for this team when they play whether it be on the road or at home.

The Portable Pit’s live reaction to a big time dunk by Carson Browne in their first win against X of the year.

Coach seems to think that it really does. He answered, “Oh yeah it makes a huge difference. I was so pleasantly surprised at the game at Cintas against Fairfield because that’s supposed to be a ‘neutral site game.’ However, you guys showing up in big numbers for that game almost makes it like a home game for us, and it made a huge difference. I mean we had guys traveling over to our games in that Northern Kentucky tournament over Christmas break, and that’s just a great reflection on our seniors. Our seniors on the team reflect the relationships that they have with you guys, and it just shows positivity from the senior class as a whole.”

This has to be encouraging for anyone to hear knowing that simply our attendance and energy is enough to help boost our team when they compete.

“We’ve just had a really good season so far. We put ourselves in a spot where we still have a shot at GCL (at the time this was written), we just got to take care of business,” says Coach Schoenfeld.

If you haven’t been to that many games yet this year, this is a huge stretch of games that we’re going to need guys at. It’s important that Elder’s 6th man shows up for this team for the rest of their season and for the playoffs. Keep bleeding purple and showing out, portable pit!