The upward rise continues for West Union boys basketball as Coach Trent Harrop and his troops made a big jump in the win total, going from just three wins in 2012-13 to 11 wins in the recently concluded 2013-14 campaign. Not only did the win total increase, but so did the West Union fan base as an exciting and talented group of young men continued to bring the packed houses and excitement back to the Dragon gymnasium.
“As a team we had many lofty goals and like most other teams we found ourselves short of some of our goals,” said Coach Harrop. “However, we continued to make improvement and held our composure as a team.”
“In the end, we have to reflect on the strides that our players have made.”
It was a roller coaster season for the Dragons, who matched their win total of the previous season in just their first three outings, knocking off Portsmouth East, Whiteoak in the Coach Young Classic, and New Boston. Then it was three losses in succession to Lynchburg, Eastern, and Fairfield, three pretty formidable opponents. That trend continued throughout the season, with the team never able to just string a number of wins together to jump far above that .500 mark.
West Union finished as runner-up in the McDonald’s Classic, playing the Peebles Indians right down to the wire before falling late 77-60.. The Dragons also gave the Indians another tough battle just a week later on the West Union home floor, with Peebles eking out a 73-68 victory. The two teams met for a third time on Feb. 10 at Peebles with the Indians making it three wins, downing the Dragons in another hard-fought game, 63-51.
West Union did sweep the season series with North Adams and topped Manchester by 10 to finish 3-3 against all of their Adams County rivals.
Finishing the regular season at 10-11, the Dragons headed to Waverly for a sectional semi-final game against a Piketon team that had beaten Peebles a week earlier. West Union was up to the challenge, hitting 16 of 20 from the foul line on their way to a thrilling 71-67 overtime win over the Red Streaks.
“Easily the high point of our season was the win in the sectional tournament over Piketon,” said Harrop.
Unfortunately, the West Union postseason came to an end in the sectional finals where they fell to a very talented and #1 seeded squad from Lucasville Valley.
For Coach Harrop, it was an easy team to coach in terms of the depth that he had available to him on his varsity roster. Many observers will tell you that the Dragons had as much talent on their squad as anyone and Harrop had the luxury most nights of going at least nine deep without a drop off.
The Dragons were paced in 2013-14 by a breakout year from junior forward James Sellars. Sellars proved to be an offensive threat from the inside and the outside, averaging 12.2 points a game to lead the team, while also firing in 13 three-pointers. Sellars added nearly 6 rebounds per contest and was the team’s leading free throw shooter at 76%, 68 of 90 from the charity stripe.
For his efforts, Sellars was named All-League by the coaches of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, Southeast District 14 Honorable Mention, and Southeast District Associated Press Special Mention.
Junior guard Trenton Price also provided an offensive spark for the Dragons, averaging 10.5 points a game and leading the teams in the categories of assists (3.3) and steals (1.7). When in the game, Price usually handled the team’s point guard duties and was recognized as Special Mention Southeast District by the Associated Press.
The big man in the middle for West Union was 6’4” junior Brady Hinkle who put up 9.5 points a game and was an intimidating force on defense in the paint, discouraging opponents from venturing too near the rim. Hinkle topped the squad in rebounds at 6.7 a game and will continue to improve this summer and should certainly be one of the top big men in the area next season.
Coach Harrop also had at his disposal one of the top pure shooters in the area in junior Dean Hall, who posted 6.5 points a game for the Dragons. Also returning next season for West Union will be 6’3” Tyler Sininger, who showed flashes of brilliance this season and was a key performer in the tournament win over Piketon.
If Coach Harrop needed athleticism and some defensive prowess, he called on junior Tim Snider. Snider’s offensive numbers don’t jump out at you but the contributions he made on the floor were not the kind that might show up on a stat sheet.
The Dragons will also say goodbye to a trio of seniors, all of whom left their mark in helping to turn around a struggling program-Jeffrey Franklin, Bobby Welch, and A.J. Frost.
The high-flying and extremely athletic Franklin led the team in blocked shots and averaged 5.0 points per game. Welch also handled point guard duties, averaging 4.6 points a game and shooting 73% from the free throw line. Frost had a fine senior year, averaging 8.3 points and 3.6 rebounds.
“Our out-going seniors can exit with the pride of knowing that they laid the foundation for the better future of West Union basketball,” says Coach Harrop. “As the old saying goes, sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. We have yet to play a game or practice without these three, so I will simply say that we will greatly miss them.”
“They certainly leave behind some holes in our team. The underclassmen will need to continue to build on the foundation left by these young men if they want to continue the trend that Jeffrey, A.J., and Bobby will always be a part of, and that is a heightened and renewed expectation of winning basketball.”
With 2013-14 now a memory, Coach Harrop and his returnees look forward to a summer of hard work in preparation for what Dragon fans hope will be an even better season when next winter rolls around.
“All of our players put forth more effort this season and as a result, they were rewarded with a few more wins,” said Coach Harrop. “The lessons that we learned may not be evident at first and some lessons may never be credited properly. The game of basketball is always teaching us lessons-lessons about handling adversity, lessons about being humble, lessons in teamwork, lessons in resilience, and lessons in fairness. Maybe this year’s lesson was being flexible in your schedule.”
“My hope is that this year’s team learned from those lessons and are prepared to move forward, looking forward to next season with a heightened sense of work ethic and pride.”