Miles Saylor

Three-time all-conference first-team selection Miles Saylor returns to lead an experienced Necedah team.

ERICA DYNES/Star-Times

Entering his final season at Necedah, there isn’t much left for Miles Saylor to accomplish.

The senior guard has already etched his named in the program record books. In his first three seasons, Saylor was named to the All-Scenic Bluffs Conference first team. He entered this year with 258 career assists, the seventh-highest total in Necedah history.

In the Cardinals’ first game of the season, he scored 12 points, bringing his career total to 1,065 and moving him past his father and Necedah head coach Kris Saylor into third on the school’s all-time scoring list. He now sits 139 points behind Jordan Murphy for second place and 260 behind Dave Swinehart.

If Saylor maintains his pace of 351 points per year, he will easily surpass Swinehart to become Necedah’s all-time leading scorer.

Last season, he averaged 17.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game, leading the team in all four categories.

“He’s been first-team all-conference since his freshman year, which is very rare,” Kris Saylor said. “He’s our heart and soul. He’s the best competitor I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach. He’s a great teammate and he makes everybody else on our team better.”

But there is far more at stake for the Cardinals than just Saylor’s individual accolades.

During Kris Saylor’s 16 years as head coach, Necedah has gone 181-172. However, the last six seasons have seen the Cardinals go 95-45 overall and 58-26 in conference play. During that stretch, they have finished in the top four of the Scenic Bluffs Conference standings each year.

Playing in Division 4 has made the road to postseason success more difficult for Necedah than some of its fellow conference members (the Cardinals haven’t advanced past the regional semifinals during its recent run of success), and it hasn’t won a conference title since 2001.

However, the 2017-18 season could be a special one for the Cardinals.

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Necedah brings back four starters from last year’s squad and six total players who were regular members of its rotation. Among the returning players are senior guard Noah Waltemath, senior forward Tyler Reichel and sophomore guard Jaron Murphy.

Experience won’t be an issue for the Cardinals, but Saylor believes improvement on offense is key to his team taking the next step forward.

“We’re a very good defensive team,” he said. “Very smart kids, high basketball IQs. What we need to do to take the next step is be better offensively. We don’t need to be a juggernaut, but we need to be more effective. We can’t have bad scoring nights.”

Anyone toppling conference favorite Bangor, who went undefeated in SBC play last year and brings almost all its players back, will be a tall task. But with Miles Saylor back to lead an experienced Cardinals team, Necedah could very well be in line for its best season yet during its recent run of success.