MINFORD — With half of their roster consisting of sophomores, the Minford Falcons boys basketball team — for 11-year head coach Josh Shoemaker — aim to bounce back from a disappointing and injury-plagued season, as Minford features 15 players that mix returning seniors with eye-catching and athletic underclassmen.
“I really like this team we have returning,” said Shoemaker. “We have a good mix of three seniors, three juniors, one freshman and a lot of sophomores playing varsity basketball. We’re going to be a deep team. We’re still trying to learn our roles.”
Those seven sophomores, Shoemaker said, may make amends for Minford — after the Falcons endured an 8-14 tally, and just an even 7-7 mark in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II.
Two seniors from that squad suffered through injuries all year, as their other two seniors spearheaded their all-Southeast District Division III honors from the Ohio Prep Sportswriters’ Association.
Cameron Dalton, at six-foot and four-inches tall, averaged 13.4 points per game for second-team accolades — while Kelton Kelley claimed Special Mention.
This season’s seniors feature third-year starter Nathan McCormick, a 6-1 converted point guard, 6-4 Hunter Davis and 5-10 Andy Crank.
Crank has battled injuries over the past two seasons, while Davis — a presence in the middle — missed all of last year with an injured knee.
But the strength of the team, Shoemaker said, is their “large, tall class of sophomores”, which the coach explained would be vital.
”We are excited about the length and size and talent level they give us,” he said.
Shoemaker mentioned Trenton Zimmerman, a 6-3 shooting guard who played some varsity last season, fellow 6-3 Jonathon Strickland and 6-4 Levi Coriell, who provide some size in the middle to either back up Davis or “make a mark for themselves.”
The Falcons’ junior guards, aside from 5-10 soccer standout Skylar Knore, are fresh from the football playoff team — 5-10 Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis, 5-10 Matthew Risner and 5-9 Drew Skaggs.
“We want kids to cross over and play different sports. We don’t want them specializing on one thing. Success always transfers to success. I would rather have successful kids who might not necessarily be basketball players as opposed to decent basketball players who aren’t successful in other sports,” said Shoemaker. “We want kids out there who are tough-nosed and not afraid of game situations where it’s win or lose on the line.”
The Falcons’ freshman is 5-foot-10 Adam Crank.
Shoemaker expects the 15-man roster to be whittled down to a regular rotation of 10 or less.
“We’re playing 10 guys right now just to see where that consistency is going to come from. Hopefully, we can build that so we know what our rotation is going to be. Guys are stepping up and hitting shots and taking care of the ball,” he said. “I love their aggressiveness, but a lot of times, it’s just the simple things like handling the ball and shooting touch and passing. It’s like anything else, once they get some time in the gym, it gets a little more smooth.”
Minford will need to find its scoring over the course of their season given its now 16-game gauntlet of the SOC II — and a brutal non-league schedule which includes SOC I favorite New Boston, SHAC (Southern Hills Athletic Conference) favorite North Adams, and Division II district runner-up Jackson.
The Falcons play Portsmouth too, as well as Coal Grove in the Buckeye Elite Classic.
“With Wheelersburg, Waverly and Oak Hill very strong teams and South Webster always putting a good product on the floor, our league is going to be very tough this year. We want to get back up near the top where we have been in the past. Our goals every year are to compete for that SOC II championship and go to the Convo (district and regional tournament). It would be nice to maybe schedule cupcakes, but that doesn’t prepare you for a league like the SOC II or the tournament,” said Shoemaker. “That’s what everyone remembers. How you did in the league and how far you go in the tournament.”
For the Falcons, they will fly as far as their underclassmen — specifically sophomores — take them.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved