WILLIAMSVILLE — The pieces are finally starting to fall over into place for third-year Deer Creek-Mackinaw basketball coach John Hughs.
After going 9-19 and 17-13 his first two years at the school, his team is off to an 11-0 start and is the top seed in the 24th annual Williamsville Holiday Tournament.
And the players that are helping bring the team together this year are brothers Neal and Levi Scheuermann.
"They're kind of the glue guys for us," Hughs said. "I don't want to discount their teammates, but those two guys are our playmakers."
Levi Scheuermann, a 6-foot-2 junior, is the leading scorer for the Chiefs at about 22 points a game. Neal, a 5-11 senior, is the team's point guard.
And while Levi usually ends up with the most points, Neal steps up when he is needed.
In a 60-58 win over Pleasant Plains on Thursday, and with Levi in foul trouble for most of the second half, Neal scored a game-high 28 points, including the game-winning shot. He tipped in his own miss at the buzzer to move the Chiefs into the tournament semifinals.
"We have guys willing to play any role, and how work their tails off," Hughs said. "As a team, they are unselfish and buy into the concept that we're playing for each other."
Before hitting the court, Levi Scheuermann, a quarterback/defensive back, has had to come off the football field, while Neal runs cross country in the fall.
"This year we had two weeks of practice," Hughs said. "Last year they played the state championship (in football) on Friday and we had a game on Saturday. So the transition has been a lot better this year."
The move to basketball has been a little easier for Neal.
"The only reason I started running cross country was to be in shape for basketball," he said. "And in games when I have to play a lot of minutes, it really helps, because I'm in great shape from cross country. So it transitions well."
After the basketball season, the Sceuermann brothers both run track.
"They're from good stock," Hughs said. "Their parent said instilled good work ethic and good character."
But their favorite sport is basketball, and there is no sibling rivalry between them.
"I'm always happy when he has a good game, and he's always happy when I have a good game," Neal said. "I think we know that we work better together than apart.
"I really like having a brother on the team, because we've been playing together since we were little kids on the driveway. So I can kind of read what he's doing, and if he's on, I know I can get him the ball. And if I'm on, he can get me the ball. We work really well together."
Levi said that track is more of an individual sport, which is why he likes playing basketball with his brother.
"We're both pretty good at it, and it's fun to work together," he said.
Neal Scheuermann is one of only two seniors on the team, so the rest of the players have only had Hughs as a coach.
"I think a lot of it last year was team chemistry, because a lot of us went to state in football last year," Levi said. "So a lot of our players came back late, we were all out of shape and there wasn't really a lot of team chemistry.
"This year, with the two weeks of practice before our first game, it really helped us to get more chemistry and to buy into what coach is saying."
One of the goals for this team is to win the school's first Class 2A regional title.
"It all starts out with winning the regional championship, but we have higher goals than that," Neal said.
Added Levi: "If we win a championship, it will be a good legacy for the younger kids. It will push them to go harder."
Just like the Scheuermann brothers.
This story has been updated with John Hughs' name spelled correctly. A previous version had it spelled incorrectly.
Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59..