Boys Basketball Preview
With only four wins to speak of last season, the Tyler Consolidated Silver Knight boys varsity basketball team is looking to turn their luck, and their win-loss record, around this year.
“There are a lot of things we want to be different from last year, especially our winning percentage,” said head coach of the Silver Knights, J.C. Kimble. “We can do it, but we’re really going to have to have focus.”
The Knights are fortunate in that they are not looking at a rebuilding year, only losing two seniors from the team last year to graduation, Zach Perkey and Darren Oliver. Instead, they have a solid experienced line-up back ready to take on the responsibilities of a winning team.
With 23 players out this year, the Knights will be able to field varsity, junior varsity and a freshman team, allowing everybody decent playing time. Assisting the one time Knight basketball stand-out himself, coach Kimble, will be two other Knight players-turned-coaches, Rob Jones and D.J. Cunningham. Jones will head up the JV team, while Cunningham will lend his experience to the freshman Knights.
Five seniors will lead the Silver the Black in the ’09 season: Alex Jones, 6′-6″, Aaron Estep, 6′, Dustin Snider, 5′-11″; Zack Minger, 6’2″, Aaron Fuller, 6′-1″, and Otto Sperling, 6′-2″.
“These seniors are proving that they are good leaders and are leading by example,” Kimble said. “All but Sperling (an exchange student) saw a lot of playing time last year and that experience is going to do wonders for us this year.”
Five juniors return to the line-up with some good floor experience: Corey Lowe, 6′, Jordan Smith, 6′-1″, Boone Kehrer, 6′-2″, B.J. Eastham, 6′-3″, and Zach Knowlton, 5′-11″.
“Again, all of these guys are back with game time too,” said the coach. “We’ll
be leaning heavily on them to keep us in games and keep us solid throughout the season.”
The majority of the five sophomores on the team will mainly see time on the JV side of the ball, but a couple are likely to see a few minutes of varsity time here and there throughout the season. The five sophomores hoping to break into the varsity ranks are: Nathan Swangpattaraphon, 5′-10″, Skylar Kinnard, 6′-1″, Jeremy Smith, 5′-11″, Justin Carpenter, 5′-11″; and Evan Cline 5′-10″.
Silver Knight fans can look for a line-up which will most likely include Lowe at the point, Jones or Eastham at the center position, Estep and Snider working the guard positions and Fuller and Knowlton as forwards — sometimes interchanged with Smith, Kehrer and Minger.
“Actually, several of the guys are interchangeable,”Kimble said. “For instance Jordan and Boone have similar playing styles, as do some of the other guys, it will depend on individual game situations as to who will go where and play which positions.”
“We’re just looking to make a difference, change things up, have a better season.”
Freshmen playing in Silver Knight uniforms this season will be: Drew Casey, 5′-11″, Darren Heintzman, 6′-1″, Scott Sole, 5′-7″, Hunter LeMasters, 5′-8″, Isaiah Cassenelli, 5′-11″, Randy Eastham, 5′-10″, Brandon Frey, 5′-10″, and Alex Doak, 5′-10″.
On the whole, Kimble and the coaching staff is very pleased with the work their team is doing thus far on the court. “There has not been a down moment,” he said. “These guys are always ready to do what is asked of them, they are a really good group of kids.”
Kimble said members of the team have put in a lot of work to make themselves better, including taking part in the annual basketball camp held in the summer. “We also had a lot of help with that camp,” he said. “In appreciation for those that helped, as well as those that attended, we invite everybody involved in our camp to our first home game on Dec. 15. All they have to do is wear their camp T-shirt and they’ll get in free to see the Knights take on Williamstown.”
Kimble also said he hoped the fans would come out to support the team this season. “These guys have worked and do work hard, they deserve some fan support.”
The team also played summer league ball together in Parkersburg, placing second overall in league play.
The annual Knights Roundball Classic tournament will again be held this year, with the date set for Jan. 15 – 16. Linsly, Magnolia and Berkley Springs, as well as the home team will be vying for the top prize.
The Silver Knights open up their schedule this season at Weir on Dec. 11.
Boys Basketball Preview
Improving on a 13-10 last season record is just one of the goals of the Paden City High School ’09 basketball team, the other being to find a way to replace three exceptional players.
The ‘Cats graduated five important seniors on the team last year: Ricky Wright, Ryan Thoburn, Wes Cosper, Chris Loy, and Ronnie Blatt.
“Our seniors last year were exceptional,” said Wildcat head coach, Fred King. “A great group of athletes.”
But those athletes have graduated, this season King will fill their shoes with two seniors, a junior, six sophomores and three freshmen.
“We’ve got to make up 35 points a game from guys who aren’t used to getting good looks at the basket,” the coach said. “We’ll score more by committee than player, at least, that’s our plan.”
The go-to guys for the team this season will be seniors Josh Bennett, 6′ and Malakai Anderson, 5′-11″, both returners with good experience. “We’re expecting Malakai to be the coach on the floor in the point guard position,” King said. “And he can do it. We’ve got an excellent leader in him. Josh Bennett is going to feel some pressure this year, because we’re going to be expecting double digits from him whenever he can provide them. We’ve moved him into a swing forward position where he’ll be able to use his outside shot more. His shooting has improved, and we’ll be looking to him a lot.”
The lone junior on the team, Zach Yost, 6′, will see more time on the floor than usual. “He can pass, jump, move, he’s really grown into a nice player,” King said. “Again, another guy we’re going to expect big things from.”
Empty slots and open spaces will likely be filled by one or more of the six sophomores out for the team: Taylor Still, 5′-9″, Geoffrey Bidwell, 5′-11″, Peyton Hinkley, 6′-4″, Thomas Leonard, 5′-11″, Jared Stewart, 6′, and Jamie Billiter, 5′-9″. And the three freshmen: Matthew Barker, 5′-6″, Jefferson Palmer, 5′-5″, Drew Bidwell, 5′-8″, will fit nicely with the “scoring by committee” plan for the ‘Cats.
“In Taylor Still we have a good all-around athlete and a good defender on the basketball court,” the coach said. “Geoffrey Bidwell is another guy with a nice outside shot. As soon as his confidence catches up with him, he’s going to be something.”
All in all, King and assistant coach, Jeff Bowers, are looking forward to the ’09 season with their young, and as yet, untried, team. “It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure,” he said. “I have complete faith in these kids though, we’re going to be playing the same game of basketball, we’re just going to be playing it a bit different, that’s all.”The Wildcats will be once again hosting their annual Christmas-time tournament held at Bob Burton Gymnasium on Dec. 18-19. On Dec. 18, St. Marys will face off with Wood County Christian at 6 p.m.followed by Paden City vs. Valley. On the second night of the tournament, the two losing teams will play in the semi-final game at 6 p.m., followed by the championship at 7:30 p.m.
The Wildcats will begin their season on Dec. 15 at Bishop Donahue High School.