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2009-10 Highland County Boys Basketball Preview

Lead Summary

    Entering the 2009-10 season after a highly successful campaign a season ago, the Hillsboro Indian boys basketball team wants to meet and possibly exceed the success from last year.
    The Indians, who finished 15-8 overall last year, second-place in the South Central Ohio League, have a lot of depth this season added along with returning lettermen, including three All-District players.
    Last season the Indians reached the Convo in Athens as they won a sectional title and finished district runners-up.
    Seniors Emanuel Turner and Airic Steagall, along with junior Aric Carroll return at the guard position for the Indians, as all three earned district honors during the Tribe’s 15-win season last year.
    Steagall and Turner were both second-team All-District and first team All-SCOL. Carroll was named second-team All-SCOL and honorable mention All-District.
    Third-year head coach Tim Davis said his team is looking to play an up-tempo style of basketball, with full-court defense to utilize the team speed and athletic ability.
    “We want to be able to beat our opponents down the floor and play full-court, pressure defense. We are also looking for big things out of our post players (seniors Dawson Barreras, Dylan Barreras and Will McKenna),” Davis said. “All three are returning for us.”
    Also on the Indian varsity team this season are juniors Dow Kiefer, Eli Hogsett, Colt Coates, Daniel Hicks, Caleb Wilson and sophomore Chase Gilliland.
    “We are looking for those guys to step up and give us a lift off the bench with energy and intensity,” Davis said. “We need everyone to be able to understand the little things. We want our team to focus in practice and have the mental toughness to prepare for each and every game with no let downs.
    “Hopefully last year’s momentum will push us through the season and repeat the success we’ve had.”
    The SCOL outlook has Davis saying the league should be very competitive.
    “In my time involved in the SCOL, this will be the most competitive I’ve seen it from top to bottom,” he said.
    The Indians will also play their games at the new high school this season, as the past few years their home games have taken place at the Patriot Center at Southern State.
    “We are really excited to play our home games in our home gym,” Davis said. “It will be a great atmosphere for our players and for our fans to play at our new school.”


    It is a new time at McClain with a new coach, new seniors, but one thing still remains: the passion to play top-notch basketball.
    New boys head coach Brent Eaton enters his first season as head coach for the purple-and-gold, and he wants to continue the winning tradition set by former coach Rick VanMatre, who retired from the game after 28 seasons this past spring.
    Eaton has eight senior players this year in Caleb Gregory, Lucas Polley, Kameron Mace, Logan Wise, Zack Mullikin, L.T. Walters, Taylor Scarberry and Nik Beatty. Senior manager Dylan Carter returns to the sideline for the Tigers this year, as well.
    “I want the seniors, from a leadership role, to maintain a positive attitude. They work well with the younger guys. One thing we are doing differently this season is having our seniors work with the junior high kids on a weekly basis, so they can pass the tradition along,” Eaton said.
    Juniors include: Zach Matracia, Zach Uhl, Scott Balzer, Aaron Pryor, Jared Loftis and Tanner Vanzant. The lone sophomore is Cameron Cooper.
    “We are deep in depth this year,” Eaton said. “We have a lack of size, but we do have a lot of interchangeable parts. I do think we have some quickness, and we pass the ball well.”
    With a new season, comes improvement that needs to be made to have a successful year. Last season the Tigers finished as sectional champions, with an overall record of 15-7.
    “We need to rebound better. We have to have consistent basketball and communicate better at times,” Eaton said.
    When asked about goals for the Tigers, Eaton stated his team doesn’t need to make goals based on win and losses, but having goals to improve each day are the ones that matter most.
     “I don’t believe in making goals to win this or that,” Eaton said. “Our goals are to get better each day and to do the little things right. If we do that, the goals will come.”
    Eaton said the SCOL is the strongest it has been in some time.
    “The league has no weakness and multiple teams have a ton of leadership returning to their programs,” Eaton said. “Top to bottom we have to play well each night to win in this league.”
    With a new era beginning at McClain, Eaton wants his Tigers to make their own mark on the school, and continue to keep the McClain basketball tradition alive and well, but they will do it on their own terms according to the head coach.
    “We have nothing in our locker room,” Eaton said. “We have no trophies, no pictures. It starts over and hopefully this team can put some new pictures on our wall. We’ve had 28 years of great success, now it is time to start new.”


    After finishing 6-15 overall last season, the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs return four starters who gained valuable varsity experience last season, and along with the rest of the team, want to make a splash in the Southern Hills League.
    “We have pretty high goals,” second-year head coach Jason McLaughlin said. “We want to play better than last year, and we have more balance this season. The kids have developed physically and are faster and stronger.
    “We have five, six or seven players that will be able to shoot the ball and score.”
    Seniors this season are Andrew Magie, Kyle Davis, Brandon McCarthy, Jorden DeHaas and Aaron Skaggs.
    Juniors include: Dallas Puckett, Austin Fawley, Dylan Noll, Steven Collins and Shain Gragg. Sophomores are: Tyler Davidson and Wes Pierson.
McLaughlin, a ’94 graduate of Lynchburg-Clay, plans to go eight to nine players deep into the bench this season, explaining he has one player jumping to the varsity level this season, after playing mostly JV last year.
    “Brandon McCarthy will come to the varsity level full time, and we have two players who didn’t play due to injury last season in Austin Fawley and Kyle Davis,” McLaughlin said.
    The strengths of the Mustangs, according to their head coach, are their overall balance, something they lacked last year.
    “We just have so much more balance and our inside players give our perimeter players a chance to get open and score,” McLaughlin said. “The kids know what to expect from me. We may not have a player like Chris Gorman (L-C’s leading scorer last season, who graduated), but we have seven to eight kids who can score 10 points a game each night.”
    One weakness McLaughlin wants his team to fix is learning how to play as a team.
    “Without a 15-20 point scorer per night like we had last year, we have to learn how to play together,” he said. “We need players to step up and develop chemistry. I like the fact I don’t have to teach things over again this season, as the kids know what to expect from me. Our practices now are better than they were in January of last season.”
    Overall McLaughlin still just wants his team to play hard and keep improving.
    “I see us a being a better basketball team,” he said. “We have to realize we have to play hard, and if we do that we will get better as the season goes on. I see our players improving and I am looking forward to seeing what our kids can do in game situations after the work they have put in.”


    The Fairfield Lions may be entering the upcoming basketball season without most of their starting lineup from last season, but  they bring back a talented group of student-athletes that look forward to becoming the next successful group of Lions under the tutelage of third-year head coach Matt Carson.
    The Lions will take the court with four seniors and nine juniors in their quest to take the top spot of the Southern Hills League.
    Seniors are Alex Henson, Nick Sowders, Josh Honeycutt and Michael Carson. Juniors are Chris Cox, Cameron Rolark, Ian Adams, Casey Jordan, Cody Tolle, Cody Ferrell, Sam Stauffer, Brandon Carmean and Ryan Evans.
    “We are a lot quicker than what we have been,” Carson said. “Last year we were blessed with a lot of big men and this year we have quick guys. We will be able to cover more ground on defense.”
    One thing the third-year varsity head coach is looking forward to is coaching a group of seniors in which he started coaching  when he was a seventh grade coach.
    “It is pretty neat with this group of seniors,” Carson said. “It is something I am excited about.”
    Carson said he told his players that playing for the Lions and wearing the jersey is something they should take pride in.
     “I told the team the names may have changed, but when you put on the Lions jersey, it means you must be hard-nosed and scrappy players. I am stressing defense and rebounding more because of our lack of size,” he said.
    As for his seniors and soon to be third-year starter Chris Cox, Carson feels his team can produce against any team that steps onto the floor with his Lions.
    “Chris and Alex make for a nice 1-2 punch on offense. Chris needs to touch the ball each time down the floor and he will be able to help others get open and get things started,” Carson said. “Nick can rebound and has great leadership skills. I am looking to blend them in with the others to make us competitive this year. Everyone will have to step in and fill their roles.”
    The Lions finished 12-10 last season, 7-6 in the SHL, for a third-place finish in Division II of the league. The Lions won a sectional title, defeating Whiteoak in the sectional final at Valley High School.
    “Our goal every year is to win and be competitive,” Carson said. “Our job is to do everything we can do to prepare, and put ourselves into position to win. I want us to be patient on offense and play aggressive on defense. We have to manufacture shots and keep scores low.”
    Carson stated his team will be looked at as an underdog this season, and he likes it that way.
    “I like preparing and working hard as a coach,” he said. “We will continue to look at mistakes we make, turn them into positives and move forward. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”


    With this being Tom Wessner’s second year at the helm of the Whiteoak boys basketball program, the pieces are in place and the players know what to expect as they enter the 09-10 season, ready to make improvements, as they work their way back to the top of the Southern Hills League.
    The Wildcats, who finished 7-14 overall a year ago, will have four seniors this season in Ben Barnett, Jerry Stuckey, Ethan Eyre and Ethan Hawkins. Juniors are Michael Carraher, Mark Crowe, Logan Morris and Joe Michael. Sophomores include: Kyle Cooper and Wes Stratton. Freshman this season are Luke Taggert and Gage Carraher.
    Barnett and Michael are returning starters. Barnett will play a lot of the wing position this season, according to Wessner. He said the senior should be more comfortable in that role.
    As for Michael, he will play the post this season. Michael, who is a four-year starter, played point and wing last year for the Wildcats.
    “So far we are definitely smaller than we were last year, but we are definitely quicker,” Wessner said. “Losing some of our bigger players from last year, we have to pick up our rebounding. We have to do a good job of rebounding at all five positions this year. I hope offensively we push the ball more.”
    Looking to play point this season will be Cooper.
    “Kyle has really pushed to be the point guard this year,” Wessner said. “He has done a nice job running the offense. Hopefully he will solidify the No. 1 spot and we can get guys in their natural positions.”
    Wessner we said the focus is on defense this season.            “We are focusing a lot more on 5-on-5 defense. Last year at times we had to start from scratch, but this year we have had more time to evaluate in the summer. We are more ahead than we were last year. We have had a good transition, with three juniors having varsity experience.”
    One bright spot from last season was the emergence of Michael Carraher. Wessner said Carraher gave the team energy last season, and he expects the same thing this season.
    “Michael (Carraher) plays very hard and his energy helps us out, especially when we get a chance to press and run,” Wessner said. “He is a very scrappy and aggressive player. He is ready to make an impact this year.
    “We are like everyone else and we want to make a push in the league,” Wessner said. “A lot of schools have players returning and the league will be a competitive league.”[[In-content Ad]]

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