Nine seniors and four juniors will dominate the line-up for the Tyler Consolidated Silver Knight basketball team this season, with at least seven returning with experience from last year. Having graduated the majority of their height last year, head coach J.C. Kimble says he and team will just have to play the hand they're dealt.
"Height is going to be our main weakness throughout the season," he said. "We know that going in and have been working on every other aspect of our game in order to get around it. Last year we had the height to work with, this year, not so much."
The Silver Knights lost seniors to graduation in Drew Casey, Alex Doak, Crhistian Ice, Isiah Casenelli, and Randall Eastham.
Silver Knight basketball 2013/14
This year, the Silver will go with speed, tenacity, endurance and intuition as their main strengths and build their program as they continue their season.
Looking to trade in and out on the court for the varsity Knights, seniors Cole Kocher, Dylan Reynolds, Nathan Heintzman, Swen Scheidemantel, Chase Cornell, Ryan Dalrymple, Skylar Leasure, Noah Garrison, and Mason Dawson will lead the way for the rest of the team. Returning senior Dylan Romine was to shine as a bright spot in the line-up this season but unfortunately has been placed on the injured reserved list due to a still lingering soccer injury.
"We have nine seniors, five of them returning with real experience from last year," the coach said. "But they're all athletic and have been conditioning hard so we'll be putting a lot of dependence on them. They'll be expected to set the pace for us."
Juniors making the cut for the varsity line-up will include Blake Carpenter and Josh Smith, along with sophomores Austin Thompson, Kyle Frum, Kordell Stewart and Daron Weekley; and freshman, Jace Reed.
"We'll be mixing it up a bit at times," Kimble said. "We plan to run a 1-3-1 and trap, trap, trap."
Knowledgeable fans of the team can expect to see Reynolds or Kocher bring the ball down the court for the Knights in most games this season and set up the offense for quick releases to Heintzman or Reed who are accurate from several spots on the floor. Scheidemantel will likely handle inside defensive and rebounding duties while any combination of Cornell, Smith, Dalrymple, Garrison or Thompson move the ball to the inside from the bottom of the key. Reynolds and Kocher will also be pressed into taking more shots at the basket than usual.
"We've got some kids who are good shooters, but nobody who is going to carry the team alone," the coach said. "We're looking for a team effort, so everything counts. We need to get the ball in the basket and that's going to take everybody working together."
"Our defensive strategies are just as important, if not more important, than our offense and Stewart, Frum, Weekley, Thompson and Scheidemantel are going to play large roles in that department."
"Basically, we've changed up everything, worked on our fundamentals and quickness, and added a few new dimensions to our game. It may take us a few games to feel comfortable, but we'll get there. It's going to take a lot of hard work on our part to see any amount of success this year, but I believe these guys are up to it. We just have to keep working hard and not allow ourselves to get down or give up."
Coming off an 11-13 season last year, coach Kimble says he is less worried about stats and the overall record this year than the progression of the team. "It sounds odd to say we're rebuilding with nine seniors on the team, but that's basically what we're doing. Junior varsity and freshman games are going to be important. Those guys are our future."
Playing junior varsity ball and looking to add their names to the varsity roster as soon as possible are juniors: John Lancaster and Kris Lashbrook; and sophomores, Colby Lash, Julian Work, Josh Peck, Brannon Jones and Jeremy Lancaster.
The junior varsity team will be coached by assistant coach, D.J. Cunningham and will play their games immediately before most varsity contests both at home and on the road.
With enough interest to man a freshman team this year, a schedule of 15 games have been set up for the youngest Knights at the high school level. Mentored by assistant coach Scott Wall, nine players will make up the Knight freshman squad including: Dylan Harter, Quinton Richmond, Hunter Wells, Tyler Spencer, Tyler Anderson, Jarett LeMasters, Kamron Milhoan, Nate Lance and Trent Smith.
In order to accommodate local fans, coach Kimble said that every home game the Silver Knight varsity basketball team plays this season will be aired on the radio on 91.5 for the enjoyment of local fans unable to make it out to the gym. "This is very important to us," Kimble said. "Shut-ins, those in hospitals or nursing homes or those having to work during the games can still listen in and support the home team. This has been made possible by several local businesses who sponsored the programming. We are very, very appreciative of their support of not only the basketball program, but all Tyler Consolidated programs in general."
The Silver Knights will begin their season on Dec. 10 at Valley and will host their first home game on Dec. 17 against St. Marys.