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By Staff | Nov 21, 2018

Get ready for some great basketball and high school wrestling! The Knights began practice this week for boys and girls both. The basketball teams have new coaching staffs, and it will be interesting to see how they jell together as a team. The high school also has a new wrestling coach. Hopefully they will continue the Knights tradition as a strong opponent for every match they encounter. Boys basketball head coach Steve Nutter and assistant Trey Meeks will bring experience, excitement and energy to the program. The The girls team will have a new look as well with Head Coach Ben Thomas and Coach Tommy Phillips hoping to form a formidable squad.

The Silver Knights boys team has several talented players back from last season’s state tournament team. The team will be a hard matchup for many area squads; rebounding, defense and getting out in transition will be their strong points. They will be quick to go to the bucket but have good shooting skills as well. Coach Nutter is known for his hard work and interest in his players. I believe he will work well with this fine group.

Paden City’s boys basketball team is in the gym working hard; they have some nice players – a little undersized, but with big hearts. Coaches Jeff Hohn and Brent Croasmun have several players returning from last year. Experience and game knowledge will be a big part of the team’s success. Paden City will be a good shooting team and will play the whole floor. Defense will also be a key to how the season goes. One thing is sure, they will be exciting to watch!

The Wildcats’ girls basketball team also returns some good players. They have struggled in the past few years, but coaches Allen Miller and Jamie Natali work them hard, and they always give it their best. We are hoping more kids get involved in the program. There are some fine female athletes at Paden City, and they could be a top-notch team. As I look back on the program, it’s been a long time since the Wildcats have had the skills to really be competitive. Right now they have it, but if the girls don’t play, don’t blame the coaches. The Wildcat girls have never made it to a state tournament, but I would love to see that change.

Ben Thomas is in charge as the new Tyler girls basketball coach. Several strong players return, and with a few newcomers, they may be a pretty talented team. Fresh off a run in the state volleyball tournament, the girls are getting a late start, but from one sport to the next conditioning won’t be a problem.

Small schools often struggle, because they don’t have the numbers to compete with the larger schools and the private schools, but it also happens because kids refuse to participate. In order to overcome the odds that are stacked against the schools because of small numbers, everyone needs to get involved. The Wildcats’ band is a fine example of how things can improve when kids get excited.

The kids often get interested and want to be a part of something, because they have a good leader who is willing to go the extra mile with them.

I would encourage all athletes to listen to their coaches; work with them, and if you have any questions or concern, go directly to your coaches and try to get those issues resolved. Remember, not everyone will be a starter, and some may not play much at all. Good kids make good athletes; there is a reason you are on the team. It’s called a team, because that’s what it is. A team is made up of a group of individuals who have different skills and talents, yet are willing to play their part to make the team a success.

I watch a lot of high school sports, and when given the opportunity, I enjoy talking with the teams and athletes. Most of the kids are very respectful and polite. Remember, you represent your school, your community, and most of all yourself. How you present yourself – not only on the court or field, but when you’re out and about – says a lot about your character. As a sports writer I look for opportunities to take pictures and write about our local athletes, and I don’t discriminate against anyone. However, those who work well with others and give the best effort – whether they are starters or All-Staters – usually get the most coverage. It just works that way!

I saw an older lady the other day, who was uptown getting groceries; she came out of the store and was approached by some girls who were collecting money for their team. The lady was struggling to get some money out of her purse while also holding on to her grocery cart. The girls took the lady’s money yet never offered a hand to help her and then made fun of her as she headed to her car. Again, there are good kids and some who are not so well behaved. I blame that on lack of discipline at home.

Be careful what you say about other people, it will come back to haunt you. Proper supervision can also make a difference. If you have a team asking for donations or partaking in any other fundraiser, stay close by. Make sure they understand how to treat people.

West Virginia University Basketball is going to be a interesting this season. During the recent tournament in Myrtle Beach, the men’s basketball team was dominating around the boards, and the guard play was impressive. Coach Huggins has a knack for getting the most out of his players; early on, it looks like he will have to work extra hard. These guys can flat-out play, but playing together as a team is what must happen to be successful. Coach will get that straightened out.

Huggins, in his 12th year at the helm of the Mountaineers since replacing the vacancy left by Michigan’s John Belein, always finds a way. However, it will be hard to top the 2009-10 team that Coach took to the final four for WVU’s first trip since 1959. The team also set a school record at 31 victories, finishing the season ranked No. 3 in the final ESPN/USA Coaches poll.

I hated to do it, but I just couldn’t help myself. I made the trip to Myrtle Beach for the basketball tournament. West Virginia had a great following, including all the transplants. It was a great time, good company, good food and fantastic basketball. Decent weather, but still better than here. A nice walk around the marsh walk and the Boulevard, and a few spins on the Shag dance floor made it all worth while.

Get out and support your local teams; get off the couch and do something. Winter sports is a great time of year – plenty of basketball; take the kids to a Mountaineer game. Go up and watch Jesuit or West Liberty, but most important of all, watch your local high school teams. You won’t be disappointed. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com