COLUMBIA CITY – Columbia City’s boys basketball team will face tougher challenges in the postseason this year, since the Eagles have moved up a class to 4A. But head coach Brett Eberly says it doesn’t change anything from a coaching perspective.

“We need to continue taking steps forward and developing our younger players. We’re in 4A now and that makes the challenge greater, but not so much that it can’t be achieved. We just need to stay who we are.”

Columbia City’s Mitchell Wilson looks to teammates to pass the ball to in last week’s

The sectional will be hosted by Huntington North and features three Summit Athletic foes in Homestead, Wayne and South Side. Eberly believes his team will rise to the occasion when it’s time.

“Our regular season schedule is made in a way to prepare us for the sectional. Our goal has always been to improve every game. We worry more about the process than the results,” Eberly said.

Eberly took over the program last season, after spending 16 years as an assistant coach for Columbia City. In his debut year, the team went 13-14 and advanced to the sectional championship.

The Eagles will have to move on without one of their high scoring players who graduated last year. Parker Hazen averaged 16 points, and nearly seven rebounds per game last season. Columbia City will need a collective effort in order to make up for Hazen’s absence.

“We not going to replace him (Hazen) with just a player or two. It will be a collective effort. We’ll need to have many players coming out aggressive, and have more guys looking for their shots. We need to take the shots we can make,” said Eberly.

Michael Sievers lays the ball up for a layup, despite heavy defense from Goshen.

The Eagles roster is young, and Columbia City fans can expect to see underclassmen on the floor as a result. There are 12 sophomores out of 17 varsity and junior varsity players. The Eagles only have five upperclassmen.

Mitchell Wilson and Michael Sievers are a pair of sophomores that Eberly expects to start on the varsity team. The sophomore starters aren’t completely inexperienced at the varsity level.

“Mitchell is just a sophomore, but he’s started every game after the fifth game last season. He has experience at this level, and it’s going to help,” said Eberly. “The hope is that many players will experience valuable minutes and grow into their new roles.”

The Eagles will also rely on three senior starters in Garrett Roehling, Ethan Christen and Trent Simmons.

Eberly says that he’s liked what he’s seen from his team this season, and says they’re an easy team to coach.

“I like their willingness to get better. They’re very coachable players. They learn fairly quickly, and they like each other. They enjoy playing basketball with each other and hanging out together,” said Eberly.

Eberly says the list of things he would like to improve are nearly endless, since the season is young.

“We will be working more on general executions. Can we execute and stay organized when things get quicker? That’s the big question. We need to make sure our minds stay sharp and under control and stay composed as we play games,” said Eberly.

The Eagles believe that their fans will enjoy watching and take pride in their style of play.

“We’ll be a fun team to watch,” said Eberly. “I think people will appreciate the effort they’ll put forward. They’re going to be a team that plays extremely hard and play together. We’re going to give ourselves a chance to battle and win games.”