Hoops teams packed with power players

For The Dominion Post

It doesn’t matter if it’s Class A or Class AAA boys basketball: Local teams are in for a tough fight to get to the state tournament, in Charleston, in March.
In AAA Region I, Section II, Preston and University will have to contend with highly-ranked Morgantown, while Trinity and Clay-Battelle will square off in Class A Region I, Section II action.
And there’s no shortage of individual players with the potential to post big numbers, as MHS senior Nathan Adrian and Trinity senior Cody Triplett are both poised to become their school’s all-time leading scorer this season, while Preston’s Jimmy Galusky looks to continue his long-distance marksmanship and push the 20-points-pergame threshold.
Considering that every coach is looking to push the ball on offense, this season should be jam-packed with high scoring — and if they get out in transition as much as hoped, packed with plenty of jams as well.

Fast-breaking news

A look ahead at the high school boys’ basketball season

PREVIEWS by Mark Schraf/For The Dominion Post


COACH: Josh Kisner (2 years) 2011 RECORD: 13-8 STARTER LOST: Guard Alex
Statler STARTERS RETURNING: Senior center Logan Opyoke, junior forward Zach Chisler, and
junior guards Tristan Haught
and Jarrett Roush FIRST GAME: Wednesday, at
home, versus Cameron
The Clay-Battelle football team had a pretty special season this fall, starting 9-0 and winning the school’s secondever playoff game
before falling in
the state quarterfinals to No. 1-ranked Tucker
Cee-Bees’ second-year boys’ basketball coach Josh Kisner would certainly accept a similar start, especially as his team fights to leave the football season behind — from a physical standpoint.
“Those kids played really, really hard this fall, and they still have some recovering to do,” he said of the nine football players on his varsity and JV rosters. “They all worked so hard over the summer, so they’re in great shape. It’s just getting rid of the soreness, the nagging injuries. But once we get through that, we’re expecting some pretty big things this season.”
Athletic, physical and experienced, the core nucleus of returning starters include senior Logan Opyoke, and a junior trio of forward Zach Chisler and guards Tristan Haught and Jarrett Roush.
“We’ll certainly look to get out and run, because we’re fast and quick enough to do it,” Kisner said. “But we’re big and strong enough with Logan and Zach to pound the ball low as well. That’s a good situation to have, because we can adjust within a game to what the defense is giving us. Even if our outside shot isn’t falling — which happens to every team — we know how to be physical, to crash the glass, carve out some space and grab rebounds. So when you can score in transition, score in our half-court sets, and score on missed shot opportunities, that’s what you’re after.”
The Cee-Bees have beefed up their schedule this season in an effort to prepare for potential postseason play.
“We have Madonna, Linsly, Magnolia, Tyler Consolidated, Wheeling Central, Class AA Grafton, Trinity, Notre Dame, plus we have the OVAC championship tournament in February,” Kisner said. “It’s loaded. But the only way to be the best is to play the best, and we expect to be competitive in every game this year. If we improve throughout the season, I think we’ll be ready to play our best basketball at the right time.”
Morgantown High
COACH: Tom Yester (31 years) LAST YEAR: 18-7 STARTERS LOST: Connor Louden STARTERS RETURNING: Seniors Nathan Adrian, Dean Marshall, Nick Colasante, Austin Agnew FIRST GAME: Dec. 11, at Preston
The Mohigans had a solid regular season last year. Ranked in the top five in the state from preseason to the state tournament, the Mohigans were
their lineup
and consistent nearly
every game.
Still, MHS fans, after watching the talented group of underclassmen fall in the sectional finals to Wheeling Park and then in the regional finals to Fairmont Senior and not make the state tournament, couldn’t help but think, “Man, wait until next year!”
Well, for veteran coach Tom Yester, next year has arrived, and not surprisingly, the Mohigans are once again being touted as one of the state’s best. Online scholastic sports website MaxPrep has Morgantown ranked No. 2, behind only Martinsburg.
“This group of seniors has played together successfully at the varsity level for a long time,” Yester said, “and they know each other well, and enjoy playing together. We’re looking forward to the challenge of getting back to the state tournament.”
Top scoring swingman and recent WVU signee Nathan Adrian is joined by steady point guard Nick Colasante and sharpshooting 2-guard Dean Marshall. Athletic Austin Agnew will fill the middle. Daniel Eby will start at small forward, with Mark Johnson reprising his sixthman role off the bench, and sophomore Thomas Selby is expected to log quality minutes as well.
While the Mohigans scored just under 60 points per game last year, their defense was impressive at 48.5 ppg. Yester is hoping the offense can push 70 ppg while maintaining defensively, and that should come with an increased emphasis on the transition game.
“They are a speed-oriented group,” he said. “And kids always want to get out and run the floor. We handle the ball well, and I think we can be effective in transition. But against good teams, it usually comes down to how you do in your structured offense, so we have to be able to find the mismatches. If we can do both, I think we’ll be pretty good.”
Preston High
COACH: Barry Sanders (20 years) LAST YEAR: 9-15 STARTERS LOST: None RETURNING STARTERS: Junior guards Jimmy Galusky and Kody Adams and seniors Mitchell Koch (for ward), Tyler Groves (center) and Wesley Scott (guard) FIRST GAME: Thursday, at Tucker County
Barry Sanders is the only boys’ basketball coach the
Knights have
ever had
patrolling the
sidelines. In
his two
decades on the
job, he’s figured out a few things, including the best way to maximize his team’s strengths to capitalize on his opponents’ weaknesses.
This quite often entails a strategy known in local circles as “Barryball,” which involves spreading the floor, forcing teams to defend all four corners of the offensive zone, strong outside shooting, and solid rebounding effort. It’s a formula that can work well, and with the personnel the Knights return this season, Barryball could lead to plenty of Preston success.
Topping the list of returning starters is junior shooting guard Jimmy Galusky, who averaged 18 points last year and is considered by MHS coach Tom Yester “the premier shooter in the region.” Galusky is joined by fellow junior guard Kody Adams and a trio of experienced seniors in forward Mitchell Koch, center Tyler Groves and guard Wesley Scott.
A pair of sophomores, center Spencer Lively and guard Brandon Black, return to add depth off the bench.
“We played a hard schedule last year,” Sanders said, “which led to some hard learning, but the nucleus we have coming back played a lot together. They’ve worked hard, and matured, so we expect them to be bigger, stronger and tougher, and they should play more effectively as a unit as well.”
As always, the Knights play in a competitive region, but Sanders never shies away from tough competition.
“You always want to measure yourself against the best,” he said. “That’s what drives a good athlete, a good team. It will be a task to get through sectionals and regionals, but our goal remains the same every year, and that’s to get to the state tournament. Our guys will need to be ready to go from day one for us to get there.”
University High
COACH: Paul Ingle (4 years) LAST YEAR: 11-12 STARTERS LOST: Drew Frasure and Scott McLaughlin STARTERS RETURNING: Seniors Tim Dixon (point guard), Deion Cunningham (2-guard), and Travis Tomer (forward) FIRST GAME: Wednesday, at home, against Lewis County
University boys’ basketball coach Paul Ingle is in Year Four of his rebuilding effort, and with a deep bench, a solid combination of size, speed and shooting
skill, the
Hawks are
about the
of the 2012-’13 season
“It’s a great situation to have a good group of players, because that competition for playing time really helps improve your team overall,” he said. “You have to go hard every day in practice to get on the court in games, which means you’re better conditioned, you’re more focused, and you’re fresher, since we can roll through the line-up. We expect to go nine or ten deep (into our bench) in most games this year.”
Point guard Tim Dixon, the leader of the Hawks, will run the show, while fellow senior Deion Cunningham will use his quickness and agility from the 2-guard spot.
“I love what our backcourt can do,” Ingle said. “Tim has really embraced the point, and there’s no question that the ball belongs in his hands most of the time. And Deion is so explosive, and he loves to attack the rim, which means he earns a lot of layups and a lot of foul shots. It’s a pretty strong 1-2 punch for us.”
Senior Travis Tomer, at small forward, is an athletic leaper who also possesses a nice outside touch. Adam Meadows has moved back to the area and will fill the power forward position, and senior Jon Lewis has returned to the team after taking a year off.
“To have guys (Meadows and Lewis) come back who know our system, know what we’re trying to do, and know their teammates already, is huge,” Ingle explained. “They’ve stepped right in, and their presence down low will help us on both ends of the court. And we expect Travis to be pretty dynamic at the 3, because he can be effective with the mid-range jumper or on dribble penetration. It should be a good group.
“I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves, but I sure hope we end up better than .500 this year. Let’s put it this way: I really like our chances this year, and that goes for every time we step on the court.”
Trinity Christian
COACH: Herman Pierson (15
years) LAST YEAR: 17-8, lost in first
round of state tournament STARTERS LOST: Jerid Jento STARTERS RETURNING: Seniors Cody Triplett (swingman),
center Seth Earl, point guard
Tommy Retton and guard/forward Anthony Ghiardi FIRST GAME: Dec. 12, at
Conotton Valley, Ohio
Herman Pierson sat with his players the other night, watching Indiana stomp North Carolina, 83-59,
on national
TV. Pierson
asked his
Warriors to
Hoosiers center Cody Zeller.
“All game long, he sprinted from block to block,” Pierson pointed out. “He probably picked up four or five easy baskets just from being the first one down the floor. That’s what we want to do, and we want to do it just as well in the fourth quarter as we do in the first.”
That takes a strong commitment to conditioning, especially in the offseason, and Pierson has seen that from his team, many of whom played together in a summer league in Pittsburgh.
“Our kids have bought into the idea that we want everything to be a push,” he said. “We try to up the speed of the game right from the start, on both ends of the court. It leads to easy baskets, and that leads to wins. Our kids have worked harder than ever, and we hope that it shows on the court.”
Senior swingman Cody Triplett is poised to become the Warriors’ all-time leading scorer this season. He has 1,229 points and needs 318 more to pass Grant Neely, with 1,547.
He’ll be joined by fellow seniors Seth Earl and Matt Caridi at center, Anthony Ghiardi at forward, and point guard Tommy Retton running the show for the third consecutive year.
Trinity will battle its way through a typically tough schedule that includes games against plenty of AA and AAA schools, but Pierson thinks the possible seeding hit from a less-than-near-perfect record is worth it.
“It’s important to stretch our limits in everything we do, and especially in athletics,” he said. “It’s good for the kids to learn what top level basketball is all about, and it helps them pinpoint what they need to do to improve, but also just how good they actually are. All our kids are intelligent, and they have a great time, working together to reach a common goal. They understand that sometimes, a loss in one game can turn into plenty of wins later on.”

Tristan Haught


Nathan Adrian


Jimmy Galusky


Travis Tomer


Cody Triplett

Bob Gay/The Dominion Post file photos