West Virginia boys basketball teams open practice today


When Joe Crislip opens the doors to the Rod Oldham Athletic Center
gymnasium at 6 a.m. today, some team members will be absent.

But you will hear no complaints from the ninth-year Parkersburg South
boys basketball coach, many of whose players are members of the Patriots
football team that will play Princeton in the state quarterfinals
this Friday.
All across the Mountain State, high school boys basketball teams
will be starting practice today.

Patriot football players who eventually will join the basketball
team are first team all-stater Matt Shamblin, who averaged 21.3 points
per game last season, 6-foot-4 Ryan Dawson, and Ben Gum, who played
for the Blane Maddox-coached Warren Warriors last year.

''We hope that they keep winning,'' Crislip said.

''Because it carries over to basketball. Plus, it's just great for
the school.''

A year ago, South was 17-8 and a state tournament Class AAA quarterfinalist,
where it bowed out, 54-53, to top-ranked South Charleston.

Prior to last season, the Patriots had advanced to state just three
other times in school history.

PSHS graduated Nick Squires, Nick Tunnell, Chris Nix and Dwain Sponseller
from that 2001-02 squad.

''We accomplished a lot last year,'' Crislip said.

''But we've got a lot of people back. Plus, our JV team, I believe,
won its last 14 games. So, we're excited.''

Crislip and his staff will be looking at and evaluating about 30
players during the first week of practice.

''The hardest job will be making cuts,'' the South coach said. ''We'll
be keeping about 20 to 23 kids for the varsity and JV.''

Marietta High School has been on the hardwood since Nov. 4, the first
official day for Ohio prep boys basketball practice.

Going into the third week of practice, the Tigers have already had
one scrimmage, against Massillon-Jackson at Sutton Gymnasium on Nov

''It's early, yet,'' said third-year MHS coach Ron Warner, who guided
the Tigers to a 16-6 record and were Southeastern Ohio Athletic League
co-champions with Gallia Academy last season.

''We're very young, so there's a lot of effort and energy out there,
'' Warner continued. ''But if we maintain our focus, develop consistency
and play with intensity, we should be OK this year.''

On the plus side, the Jim Thrash-coached Marietta junior varsity
team was 18-2 last season. Now, several of those players will be
seeking to be promoted to the varsity.

And, there are several holes to fill.

MHS lost to graduation Braden Amigo, Kevin Breaux, Bryan Hardesty,
Chris Lupardus, Chris Palmer, Tony Huffman, Brandon Burke and all-
state honoree John Farr.

Burke is now playing for Mount Union College in the Ohio Athletic
Conference, and the 6-7 Farr is at Hillsdale College in Michigan.

So far in the early going, the Tigers have suffered some injuries
with letterman Dale Chidester out with a fractured right hand; all-
league honoree Tyler Lough, an ankle sprain; and Cody Wagner, on
medical leave.

Marietta is scheduled to have a two-quarter practice preview against
Morgan on Nov. 23.

The Tigers tip off their season at Meadowbrook in Byesville at 7:
30 p.m. Dec. 3.

The orange and black's home opener will be against SEOAL foe Jackson
at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10.

Warner believes that Gallia will be the team to beat in the SEOAL.

''They have five or seven players back from last year's team,'' the
MHS coach said.