WILLIAMSON – Is it too early to talk about basketball season? Of course not!
Many area teams are hitting the hardwood and preparing for the upcoming basketball season. It’s unclear how the season will play out but there have been some notable changes during the off season that will drastically affect some team’s chances of succeeding this year.
The Phelps Hornets are hoping to piggy-back on the football team’s success this season and are expecting a better run than 6-24 this year. With returning players like leading scorer Christian Mounts, and big man Brandon Norman, who wasn’t able to play much last year, the Hornets are looking decent. They have some new faces including Tyson White, Brandon Turnmire, Ronald Prater and Dezmond Roblee who will certainly help out in the Hornets fast paced offense.
Norman will be a big help as the Hornets they shoot for a district championship against the usual Belfry Pirates, Pike Central Hawks, and Lawrence County Bulldogs.
Lawrence County took the biggest hit in the district by graduating Grant Kiser, Tanner Black, and center Josh Ratliff. The Hornets feel they are going to be good competition in the 60th district this year.
The girls team is year older and returns leading scorer Danielle Prater. They will be up against more experienced teams like Belfry and Lawrence County but he Lady Hornets will be hitting the season with speed.
Belfry will return the majority of their players with the exception of big man Cole Bentley. The work down low will be up Ryan Jessie and Jarrett James this year. Although the Pirates will not be able to really begin practice until the football season comes to an end.
Belfry will return point guard duo Austin Woolum and Cameron Catron while hoping that Koleston Blankenship can make up for the loss of last year’s leading scorer Garret Fannin.
The Lady Pirates will return point guard Olliena Hairston, shooting guards Lyndsey Miller and Kailee Rash and also returning power forward Kylea Stanley.
The Lady Pirates won the district championship last year with a 69-45 win over Lawrence County but was knocked out in the opening round of the regional tournament by Betsy Layne. The Lady Pirates will hope that one more year of experience may be what they need to propel them through the regionals.
The Tug Valley Panthers will be looking to pick up where they left off last year. The Panthers lost a few key players during the off season but return Johnathan Blankenship, Tyler May, Colby Savage, and Garrett brown.
The Panthers aren’t losing any sleep about the new lineup and are only focused on another state tournament appearance. With the reputation this class already holds they should be fun to watch.
The Miners are set for a big breakout season with a few new names on the roster this year and first year head coach Kevin Hatfield.
Hatfield will have his son Drew Hatfield, transfer Jeremy Dillon, center Daniel Buchanan, and tall Tyler Grimmett to work the offense. Keysean Rhodes, Aaron Banks, and Buchanan are the returning starters.
The Miners will don’t have far to go to improve from last season but with all that talent it could be expected for Mingo to pull a complete 180 this year.
(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] on on twitter @sidplaster.)