November 26, 2009

Depth, Versatility Will Be Keys to Tigers Hoops Success This Season

Heading into his second season at the reigns of a team that he once starred for, coach Lance Campbell can not help but reveal his excitement about the prospects for bigger and better things for the Scotland County basketball program.

In his debut on the bench, Campbell took over a young team with limited returning experience. The Tigers went 6-21 but showed definite signs of improvement late in the year when the rookie coach went with a youth movement.

Campbell hopes that transition pays dividends this year.

“Right now I would have to say our depth is going to be our key asset,” he noted. “With 20 kids out this year, we will have no problem going 12 deep at the varsity level if we need to.”

That depth will be led by three returning starters. Seniors Kyle Shelley and Brandon Garnett will return for their third tour in those roles. Shelley earned all-conference honors last year after averaging 10.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a night. Garnett put up 8.2 points and 3.1 rebounds per contest.

Harley Stone started as a freshman for the Tigers. He averaged 4.4 points and 5.7 rebounds before missing time with a foot injury.

Campbell will have to replace leading scorer Jacob Howard. The graduate averaged 13.5 points and 5.7 rebounds. Also gone are guards Andrew Duley and Caleb Kittle.

Drew Miller played in all 27 games at the point guard spot as a freshman.

“He kind of got thrown to the wolves last year out of necessity,” Campbell said. “He’s going to get a chance to see action in better situations this year.”

That’s thanks to the arrival of transfer Cody Taft. The senior likely will get the starting nod as the team’s floor general.

The fifth spot is still up for grabs with a number of players challenging for the final starting spot.

“Not only do we have depth but we have some excellent versatility that will make my job much easier,” Campbell said. “So many of these guys can play a lot of different roles for us.”

Campbell noted that Garnett is a talented defender who can match up against nearly any opponent from the 1 to the 4 spot, even playing defense in the post if needed. Stone is another player that fits that mold.

Those two may not be called upon to play too much in the paint, as Shelley will have some company underneath with sophomores Derrick Muntz and Andrew Mathes.

Stone and fellow sophomore Brock Bondurant, along with juniors Sabe Sears, Kasey Dial and Dakota Wells give the team plenty of options in the back court as well.

Wells was the team’s top three-point threat last year, hitting better than 30% from behind the arc. Bondurant averaged four points and two rebounds in a late season audition.

“Our depth and versatility should let us do a lot of different things,” Campbell said. “Where as last year we really only had one group of kids we could press or fast break with, this year, we have a lot of interchangeable parts that are going to let us make the necessary in-game adjustments.”

SCR-I brings back the experience it hopes will allow a move up the conference standings. Last year’s Tri-Rivers Conference champs, Clark County, will have to replace league MVP Michael Brennan as well as fellow all-conference performers Bryan Plenge and Ethan Allen. Knox County and Schuyler County, both 5-2 last year, will have similar holes to fill after losing top performers Dennis Dent and Jacob Winkler.

The Rams will return Tim Gorman and Jesse Wheeler to possibly give them the inside track on unseating the Indians atop the conference. Putnam County also went 5-2 last year, and will be another pre-season favorite behind returning all-leaguers Danielle Mallette and Nolan Wood.

Milan (2-5) will be without first teamer Logan Hill, while North Shelby (2-5) will have to replace its top player from a year ago, Michael Stoneburner. Brookfield (1-6) will be in the same boat after graduating Ryan Falconer.

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