NEW BOSTON – If you’re leading a program coming one of its best seasons in school history, what exactly should be your approach to the next year?
Yes, the New Boston Tigers could very well be satisfied with their 20-7 season a year ago and the school’s first appearance in a Division IV regional final since 1960.
But the word settling isn’t in coach Adam Cox’s vocabulary, or in his staff or player’s vocabulary.
Instead, coming off one of the winningest seasons in school history and a magical postseason run to go along with it, the 2019-20 New Boston Tigers want to improve upon last year’s successes in defense of their Division IV district title by improving on the things they’re already so good at.
“One thing we’ll be working towards is being better at the things we were good at last year, trying to fine tune them,” Cox said ahead of the Tigers season. “We want to be quicker this season, want to be smoother making passes and cutting down our turnovers. We want to be able to use our defense to help us create opportunities on the other end.”
Leading New Boston into the new season is returning Division IV Southeast District first-teamer Kyle Sexton (6-5, Jr.). During his sophomore campaign, Sexton averaged 20.4 points per game, 16.2 rebounds per game, 3.0 steals per game, 5.0 assists per game, and 1.5 blocks per game.
“Having Kyle back is a blessing,” Cox said. “He’s good with the ball in his hand, he’s good with playing away from the ball. I think the best thing to describe Kyle is that his motor is unmatched by a kid who is 6’5”.”
Joining Sexton in the category of returning players are senior guards Malachi Potts and Marcus Saunders. Those three, in addition to second team all-SOC sophomore guards Grady Jackson and Jerome McKinley, give the Tigers the experience needed as they war against complacency.
“Our guys like Kyle, Malachi, and Marcus, those guys who were here last year, they think that last year wasn’t good enough,” Cox said. “We went to the Elite Eight and we still feel like we didn’t do good enough. That’s a good mentality to have.”
“We play so much better when Malachi’s on the court because he’s a distributor,” Cox said of his senior captain. “He looks for his shot, and also makes people respect his shot by making teams pay if they leave him open. Getting Marcus to play like he did during last year’s tournament run will be very beneficial for us. Whether it’s off the bench or as a starter, because he can do both. Last year he averaged more points coming off the bench for us.”
And lest we forget the two guards who can cause problems for their opponents night in and night out after shining as freshmen at the highest stage.
“Together, they’re pretty special,” Cox said of Jackson and McKinley. “On our presses and our traps, their speed is everything. They have a connection that they know where they’re going to be on the court.”
Chase Clark (6-6, Jr.) provides the Tigers with more size on the court after being an integral piece to the Valley Indians’ Division III sectional title a season ago.
“Very intense, very good communicator,” Cox said of Clark. “Look for him to help us out a lot on the defensive end.”
Brothers Tanner and Brady Voiers also give the Tigers much needed depth, a factor Cox’s teams over the last two years have at times struggled with, while also re-establishing themselves in the ‘Tiger Gang’ mantra New Boston fans and community members have grown accustomed to.
Both Voiers brothers attended the New Boston School District in their youth, their parents are graduates of New Boston, and their grandmother retired as a secretary for the New Boston School District.
Tanner also played a key role in South Webster’s Division IV sectional title a season ago.
“Tanner’s basketball IQ is excellent,” Cox said. “I love talking basketball with Tanner because he gets it. He understands the concept of the team is more important than what ‘I’ can do.”
Devon Jones, Devin McLaurin, Blake Grant, Kage Truitt, Levi Bowman, and Austin Gosselin round out the Tigers varsity roster entering the ‘19-20 season.
While New Boston’s eyes are certainly set on the program’s first regional title since 1960, they also have their eyes set on one goal the Tigers have yet to accomplish during Cox’s first two seasons: an outright SOC I title.
“We’ve finished second place each of my first two years,” Cox said. “It’s our turn to win the league. We’re supposed to win the league, and everyone thinks we should win the league. But we have some good teams we have to face first. Our highest priority goal is to win the league, hopefully we’re able to do that.”
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved