Pocahontas County High School fields an exceptionally quick and agile boys basketball team this season and Head Coach Tim McClung likes what he’s seeing so far.
“Comparing this team to last year’s team, we’re head and shoulders above where we were last year,” he said. “We have 27 or 28 kids out, so we have good participation. We’ve got some kids returning. We only have one senior and several juniors, sophomores and freshmen. So, we’ve still got a long ways to go, but we’re improving every day in practice.”
McClung said his players understand strategy better this year.
“Now, I think the kids have got an idea of what we’re wanting to do here with the program,” he said. “The things we’re trying to implement as coaches, our systems, they just have a little bit better idea now. They worked hard for the three weeks during the summer program and we went to several shoot-outs and we did pretty well. So, the kids are buying in and working hard. That’s what makes me think we’re ahead of schedule from last year.”
McClung plans to take advantage of the team’s speed with a fast-paced game.
“We’ll try to do two things,” said the coach. “We’re going to try to run the ball up and down the floor. Offensively, we want to be a transition, fast-breaking team. So, we’re going to try and push the basketball up and down the floor. Our motto is to work from the inside out. So, we’ll try to get the ball down inside and then kick it back out. We will shoot some threes, but we want the ball to start down inside. We are going to try to press a lot more than we did last year.”
The coach will rely on the team’s only senior for leadership and wisdom.
“David Hoover is a senior,” said the coach. “He didn’t get much varsity time last year, but he played quite a bit of JV. Hopefully, his experience as a senior and leadership will help out with the other players.”
Having two juniors with lots of playing time somewhat makes up for the lack of seniors.
“We have two juniors that started last year – every game, I believe,” said McClung. “That would be Cary Robertson and Adam Irvine. Adam might have been sick a couple games, but he started the majority of the season. That’s going to help us. Stephen Mick – he played JV and varsity last year, so he got some time in. Dalton Irvine did not play last year, but he’s done well this year.”
The coach is counting on his sophomores to contribute, as well.
“Ryan Dilley – we hope that he’ll be able to contribute some for us,” said the coach. “Braxton Rider is a tremendous shooter, so we’re looking for things from him. Phillip Green, he played last year and he’ll help us. Jimmy Hensler, he did real well last year as a freshman. He got a lot of playing time, so we’re looking for him to do well for us, also.”
Even the team’s 12 youngest players are showing potential.
“We have a gob of freshmen and they’re doing real well,” said McClung. “They can come in and make a difference also. It all depends on how much they work here in practice, how much they want to improve, and if they’re able to pick up the things that we want to do.”
The team has four players over six-feet tall: Mick, Hensler, Dalton Irvine and freshman Danny Kimble.
“We’re not a big team, but we’re athletic,” the coach said.
The team opens its season at home against Webster County on December 10.
“Starting out with Webster County, they beat us last year in the first game by 47 points, over at their place,” said McClung. “They have a new coach in Coach Nutter. He coached over at Richwood for the girls’ program for several years. He does an excellent job of coaching, so they will be prepared.”
The Warriors came on strong in the second half of last season, defeating both Webster County and sectional rival Pendleton County in late season rematches. Coach McClung said he expects that higher level of play to continue over into this season.
JV tipoff against Webster County on Tuesday night is scheduled for 5:45 p.m., with the varsity game to follow.