The biggest competition at Wyoming East this season may be for playing time.
“(Practices) have been competitive,” said Warriors coach Rory Chapman. “There are a lot of guys flying around and a lot of new faces.”
East has three returning starters, but two of last year’s top scorers are gone: Brett Bowling graduated and Josh Tunstalle transferred.
Chapman says there are lots of young players contending for time on the court.
“They’re very coachable and try to listen to what you say,” he commented. “They’re going to make mistakes, but they’re always trying to get better every practice.”
Fans may see a variety of starting line ups.
“I might tell you one starting lineup today and something different tomorrow,” Chapman said.
“The depth this of this team (is good),” he added. “This may be the deepest team we’ve had here.”
That’s a big change from last season. “We were playing five kids (at times),” he noted.
He expects defense to be a strength.
“We’ll going to press more (than last year) and try to get defense-created offense,” Chapman remarked. “We’ll also play a lot of man to man. I’m comfortable with that.”
“The question is how many points will we score and who’s going to score,” the coach observed.
Seniors Austin Canada (who averaged 15 ppg last year) and Christian Hedinger are returning starters and expected to provide leadership.
“They’re hard workers who give everything,” Chapman state. Canada will play the point and will also be the two guard at times.
“I’ve got four guys who can play the point, but Austin is the best,” the coach noted. Hedinger can play the two or three spot.
“He’s a defensive leader,” said Chapman. “We’ll be looking for more offense from this year.”
The third returning starter is sophomore post player Cody Lester.
“He had a really good off-season,” Chapman noted. “We’re waiting for when he knows he should be the best player on the floor every night. When it happens (the team) will take a big jump.”
John Morgan saw action off the bench last year and gives the Warriors some size inside.
Also competing for time are sophomore Logan Blankenship, who will see some action at the point. “He had a great off-season,” Chapman said.
Others in the running are Jordan Hayes, Jacob Dulcie (“super defense”), Alec Lusk, David Carte, Mike Hayworth, Aaron Griffith and R.J. Folden.
“We have 12, 13 guys who can make an impact,” Chapman stated.
Tyler Lester is out with an injury. “We hope he’ll be set to go (soon),” the coach commented.”
As always, East will face a strong schedule.
“We’ll probably play Westside three times, Bluefield three times, Oak Hill and PikeVew,” said Chapman.
One schedule oddity has the Warriors going 17 days without a game after opening on Dec. 10.
“That may not be a bad thing,” Chapman observed. “We’ll have a long time to look at film from the first game and see what we need to work on.”
When they return to the court, the Warriors will have back -to-back games with Cincinnati Woodward and North Marion.
Defending state champion Bluefield and county rival Westside return most of their key players, making Region 3 the state’s toughest.
“We just need to get better every game and do what we can to get ready for tournament time,” Chapman said.