Suddenly it hits me; it’s basketball season. Where have I been these last couple of weeks? After I returned from Bowling Green, and watching the Belfry Pirates secure yet another Class 3A state championship for the third year in a row, I felt like I needed a moment to put the whole season into perspective. I needed that in my life. I needed at least three days to look back on what I had just been a part of. What did I get? I got about five minutes to smoke a cigarette and head on over to the local gymnasium to gather basketball pictures for our up-coming basketball preview. But alas, I will survive.
So here we are now; I feel like some European train hopper, just jumping from sport to sport. No time to be sentimental, there’s work to be done and Kyle reminds me daily that this is just how it goes. There’s a lesson; from the underbelly of the newspaper ‘biz’, remain flexible and ready to move on. See it, write it, and move on. There’s a good life lesson in there somewhere but it’s not clicking at the moment. Did Samuel Clemens go through the same thing while he snooped out the gossip on the banks of the Mississippi River?
Anyway, I did have the pleasure of watching the garbage man step out of his truck and into a giant puddle this morning; he just shrugged it off. That’s who I need to be imitating today: the garbage man. There is work to be done and no time to watch out for puddles. Trudge through like a real American trooper. I like it. Today is better now thanks to the garbage man.
On to basketball, so where do we begin? I have only made it to a few games so far but I am a “sports freak” and I do pick up on what’s going on very quickly; or at least pretend like I know what’s going on, That’s half the battle right? I picked up a few extra teams to cover this season; Ambassador Christian Academy and we are looking further over towards Tolsia to gain more local coverage since not many publications brave the trek down Rt. 52, but I’m your guy when it comes to adding more work without thinking it through. I’m very experienced in that.
The three main high school teams I will be covering this season will be Belfry, Mingo Central and Tug Valley. Getting a grasp on what happened last season is the hardest part to break into; I wasn’t here last season and I have some catching up to do.
The Belfry Pirates have leading scorer Garrett Fannin returning for his senior year. That has to be a big help for Coach Thompson. The girls’ coach, Kevin Deskins, is relying on a young group of players this season. After talking to Deskins, I realized he seemed realistic but also optimistic. That’s always a good sign.
Mingo Central is under the direction of new head coach Garland Thompson. It’s been a very slow start for the Miners so far but the talent is there. The Miners have Keysean Rhodes and Dalton Hatfield returning, they also added Daniel Buchanan to the roster. Buchanan is the “windex man”, he’s there to shine the glass and get rebounds. I watched him in the game against Herbert Hoover, I believe he will be able to hold his own against teams in the area. The return of senior Stevie Hammond will be a big help after he recovers from his football injury.
The Lady Miners are moving along nicely. Head Coach Clay Campbell is currently on a leave of absence and interim coach Jack Stewart is pulling double duty between coaching the girls’ team and the middle school team, but he is handling the pressure just fine.
Tug Valley has a new head coach for the boys’ team. Ed May will bring a good coaching style to the Panthers team. With Jeremy Dillon, Tyler May, Calvin Blankenship and Johnathan Blankenship returning the fast paced offense should produce a lot of points.
The Tug Valley girls’ team has made two state championship appearances in a row. Coach Maxine Colegrove is looking for another appearance this year but the reports are coming up that the Lady Panthers aren’t putting up as many points early on in this season.
Phelps will also be on my radar this basketball season. Phelps’s new boys’ coach Brody Justice, comes to Hornetville from the East Ridge area. The buzz surrounding the program says that Justice has been putting the Hornets through some intense practices which can be a very good thing for the Hornets. During my snooping around Hornetville for the preview I spoke to Justice and he made it clear he wants his team to be one of the hardest working teams around. I support that initiative.
The Lady Hornets have a group of young talent that the coaches are excited about helping grow. Interim coach Dewayne Abshire talked about the need for patience with this young group. They may not be feared now but he believes in a couple of years, they are going to be something really special.
One Lady Hornet in particular has already created some tall tales about her talent. Eighth grader Danielle Prater tied the school’s single game scoring record for the girls after scoring 46 points in a game against Hurley, Va. Considering the athletes age and experience level you have to agree that’s a special achievement.
As you can tell my winter is about get as busy as a pharmacy technician during the first of the month. No sleep till the job is done, well maybe a little sleep on Sunday if my girlfriend will allow it; on second thought, she may not have a choice; I will probably just turn into a narcoleptic .
One thing I do encourage is for the parents and coaches of players in lower levels of basketball, like little league, AAU, and Jr. High to send in information and pictures about what happens throughout the season. We don’t want to leave out the little kids. Besides, refrigerators look so much better with newspaper cut outs on them. I just can’t cover everything at once and encourage everyone to send me whatever information you can gather up. It doesn’t have to be perfect; I will sift through it and write it up.
The average amount of games played during the high school season ranges from 18-23, so we are still very early and teams will begin to find their own groove. Some teams may improve and some teams may worsen but it’s still too early to tell. Cheers, to another season of basketball. I can feel the excitement growing already. See you at the games, I will be the one scraping hotdog chilly stains off of my shirt on the side of the court. No time for careful eating either.
(William Plaster is the sports reporter for the Williamson Daily News, he can be reached at 304-235-4242 ext. 2274 or at [email protected] or on twitter @sidplaster)