Lynchburg High School plays host school for 2016 action –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
After the girls’ teams of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference held their annual Preview Night one week earlier, it was time for the SHAC’s boys’ squads to take center stage and they did just that on Friday, Nov. 25 at Lynchburg High School as fans of all 10 conference teams got their first look at their prospects for the 2016-17 season.
Right off the bat the first match up of the night pitted a pair of Adams County teams against each other as the West Union Dragons battled the North Adams Green Devils. It was a tale of two quarters for the Dragons, who came out of the gate strong in the first quarter, but faded in the second and the Green Devils won the two quarters of action 31-23.
It was dialing long distance early as the teams swapped three-pointers, one from North Adams’ Patrick england and one from West Union’s Elijah McCarty. The Dragons then rode the hot hand of junior guard Eli Fuller to forge a lead. Fuller hit a runner in the lane then a jumper from about 12 feet out, and followed that later with a three-pointer off the wing to put his team up 14-9, but the West Union defense lapsed and allowed Devils’ point guard Isaiah Anderson to the rim for a layup at the first quarter buzzer that cut the Dragon lead to three.
That Anderson layup was the beginning of a 9-0 North Adams run that extended into the second period, with a three by Anderson, two free throws by Austin McCormick, and a bucket by Elijah Young that made it 18-14 Devils. The run was broken when West Union’s Andre Wolke drilled a three but England answered with his second of the half. Another jaunt into the lane for an easy layup by Anderson kept North Adams up 25-19 and England’s third trey of the night stretched the advantage to 28-21. After a pair of free throws by West Union’s Janson Kramer, the half ended with the Devil’s Colt Shumaker firing in a long trey to end the half with the Devils on top by eight.
In the two quarters, the Devils were led by Anderson and England, both of whom totaled 9 points, while West Union was paced by 9 from Fuller and 7 from McCarty.
“From quarter to quarter you don’t know what you might get from us, but that is what we are trying to work on,” said North Adams head Nathan Copas in a post game radio interview. “I think we are going to shoot the ball a little better this year, with a little more confidence. We will still get the ball to the post to keep the defense honest and hopefully in a week we will be ready to go.
“We have improved a lot and we are getting there,” said West Union head coach Josh White in his radio stint. “I am not disappointed with the way we played tonight. We had a few moments where we got down a little bit, but we did everything that we were trying to do. Having those minutes on the court together last year, then coming back with the same guys this year is a big plus for us. We just have to get better and learn how to win. We are still working some kinks out but when we get a few wins under our belts, we will be in good shape.”
The second match up of Preview Night saw the Peebles Indians and their up and down racehorse style battling with the Fayetteville Rockets. Peebles head coach Josh Arey has another wealth of talent on his hands and it showed Friday night. After a bit of a slow start, the Indians found their rhythm and with the strength of an 11-0 run, rolled past the Rockets 32-18 in the two quarters of play.
After neither team scored for the first two minutes of the first quarter, the Indians got the half’s first six points on two baskets by Tanner Arey and two free throws by Bostin Robinson. A pair of Arey charity tosses and a bucket by Robinson off a Rocket turnover made it 10-2 Peebles,
Senior big man Camron Gordley finally got on the board for the Tribe with a stick back basket and an old-fashioned three-point play, and then a later pair of free throws that pushed the lead to 17-6. Fayetteville got offensive rebound baskets from Colin Connor and Bowen Doane and the first eight minutes ended with Peebles leading 19-10.
That was as close as the Rockets were to get as the Indians began the second stanza with an 11-0 run, keyed by two baskets in transition from Arey, a three-pointer off the wing by Ethan Parrett, and a bucket by Gordley, giving their side a 29-10 advantage. Coach Arey began to empty his bench and used everyone at his disposal over the half’s final three minutes. The Indians got one more score, a three off the wing from Stephen Penn, as the two periods ended with the red and white in front 32-18.
Gordley topped the winners with 11 points, with Arey chipping in 10. Fayetteville was led by Connor’s 4 points.
“I like our team this year,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey in his post game radio chat. “The first two weeks of practice have been as good as I have ever had in my time at Peebles and we feel pretty confident. Camron has worked so hard and really improved his game and he will really have to dominate inside for us, both on offense and defense. Tanner worked hard this summer and his shot has improved and Ethan has stepped into the point guard role.”
“We need to get better off the glass and try to find those 8-9 guys. I’m very pleased so far with our progress.”
The fourth face off of Preview Night saw first-year head coach Joey Darnell bring his Manchester Greyhounds into action with the dean of SHAC head coaches, Rob Beucler and the Eastern Warriors, When you play a Beucler-coached Eastern team, it is certain that you will be defended from start to finish and the Hounds found that out first-hand as the Warriors held them to just 18 points in two quarters and used an 11-0 spurt in the second period to take a 21-18 win.
The athletic Greyhounds came out strong, racing to a 7-2 lead behind a three-point goal by Jamie Combs and baskets from Shaun Gould and Kaulen Cox. A later trey from the corner by Colton Thornburg extended the lead to 10-4 and the first quarter ended with the Hounds on top 14-8.
Perhaps because they had played a scrimmage earlier in the day combined with how an Eastern team wears you down, the Greyhounds seemed to lose their legs about midway through the second quarter. After a Gould bucket gave them an 18-10 advantage with 4:23 left, the Hounds did not score again as the Eastern pressure resulted in an 11-0 run and a 21-18 lead. A desperation heave from midcourt by Cox grazed the front of the rim and the Warriors escaped with a three-point triumph.
Manchester scorers were led by Combs with 7 points and Gould with 6. Eastern was paced by six points on a pair of three-pointers by Garyn Purdy.
“I’m real excited to take over at Manchester and I have enjoyed it thus far,” said Coach Darnell after the half of play. “Sometimes it looks like I have two different teams, tonight we jumped out early then kind of went flat in the second quarter. As a coach I don’t think we are ever satisfied and we have a lot of potential and offensive weapons. We need to get them to believe in their tasks on the defensive end.”
“I think the pieces are all there and we just have to put them all together at the right time.”
With the preview out of the way, all the county boys’ teams now shift their attention to the beginning of the regular season, which begins on Friday night when Manchester travels to Western Latham to kick off the 2016-17 season. North Adams begins its season on Saturday, Dec. 3 with a trip to Minford, while West Union and Peebles will both open next Tuesday, Dec. 6, with the Dragons on the road in Wheelersburg and the Indians at home hosting Ripley in SHAC action.