Rick Leach, Veteran Coach, to Lead Knights
The Tyler Consolidated Silver Knights are hoping to turn some heads this season as they return a talented group of ball players to the hardwood. Griffin Phillips, will be back for his third year as a starter as will Dylan Roberts. Nate Lancaster, 5′ 11″ is another senior who has been in and out of the lineup the past three seasons but is vastly improved and should provide the Silver Knights with some much needed leadership skills while also adding that do about anything type of player most coaches have a hard time finding.
“Right now and I know it’s still early but I really like what I see in this group. This might be one of the most talented group of Class A players in the state. We don’t have a lot of size but we sure do have a lot of athletes,” said Coach Rick Leach.
Leach, was hired when Bob Jones retired after one season with Tyler Consolidated. He is assisted by D.J. Cunningham, who is entering his sixth season as the Knights assistant. “My main goal is to get Knights basketball back to the level we used to have. I will borrow part of President Trump’s slogan by saying “I want to make the Silver Knights great again,” joked coach Leach. “We were never great but we were relevant and we were always in the conversation in WV. So we want to get back in the conversation in Class A basketball and our goal is to get down to Charleston. Our ultimate goal is to win it all obviously. We have to set small goals throughout the season and some of those goals are to defeat our sectional foes and those are the teams we have to beat,’ said Leach.
Tyler’s first two games are with their regional competition Valley and Cameron, which makes those games important to the Knights because they might have to face one of them to get to the state tournament.
“We’re putting emphasis on those games because we want to learn from them. We had a good turnout this year and I had to cut some kids which I don’t enjoy doing but we have some good kids who want to learn and are willing to work together and buy into the changes we are making. I am no magic man and I am telling them it’s not what I know it’s what you learn and I’m going to try and put them in position to do it. We were successful before because we had kids who performed and we’re looking for this to translate into these kids doing the same thing.”
“Phillips is a phenomenal athlete and so is Rucker, I am expecting some big things from them. Robert, a 5’10” guard brings a lot to the floor with his defense and ability to pull up and knock down the jumper. You put all three of them together with Lancaster and it’s not going to be hard to find the right combination. I am hoping to find at least eight players I can use at all times. Depth is a luxury in basketball, especially when you play and up and down type of game.”
The Knights have plenty of depth with 21 players on the roster including the JV team. Along with Phillips, Rucker, Roberts and Lancaster, the Knights have junior Tyler West 6’2″ back for his third straight year. West, may be the most improved player in the lineup. Last season he showed signs of being a breakout player. This season he will be counted on heavily to add that extra punch the Knights have been looking for. He is an excellent shooter and a smooth inside threat as well. “We will be counting on him to hit the boards for us, as well as defend around the basket.”
Phillips, will more than likely handle the point but he is so multi-dimensional he can play anywhere on the floor and that makes him dangerous. He is also a leaper who at 6′ can get high above the rim and toss it down. His participation in the summer league has made him a tougher athlete and much improved basketball player.
Rucker at 6’2″ is another natural athlete who can take over a basketball game with his scoring ability. He can get to the basket or pull up and knock down the jumper. Another product of the Sistersville summer league, who put together a couple of 40 plus point games against some of the areas best.
Senior Colby Buchanan a 5’10” guard/forward could work his way into the lineup after sitting out last season, but is nursing a leg injury and it is uncertain if he will be able to play at this point. .
Others looking for playing time are senior’s Luke Daugherty, 6′ 3″, and Kyle Mason,a 5′ 11″ guard who has impressed in practice early. Nick Gorby, 5′ 8″ is vying for playing time as is sophomore Gage Huffman, a 6′ guard/forward. Mark Wilson a 5′ 9″ shooting guard and Quintin Southerly, a 6′ guard both are in the running for a spot as is 6′ 1″ Steven Ross.
The rest of the line up includes, Levi Smith, Adam Efaw, Zach Placer, Gavin Morris, Dylan Seckman, Garrett Littel, Avery West and Jake Frum.
The Silver Knights will kick off the 2017-18 basketball season on Tuesday, December 5, in an away game with the Valley Lumberjacks, in Pine Grove. They will then travel to Cameron on Friday December 8, to take on the Dragons before hosting their first contest of the season on Tuesday, December 12, vs Williamstown. All three games begin at 6 p.m. with a JV matchup.