Nov. 25—The Raiders of Whitesville Trinity figure to be a strong contender in the 12th District this season, and with good reason.
Coach Nathan West returns six seniors and a ton of production.
"Our biggest strength is our experience," West said. "We only lost one player from last year's 16-16 team, and our young guys have all improved — both skill wise, physically and from an IQ standpoint — over the summer. We will also have the size and strength to switch a lot of our positions.
"I have had eight players who have started at various points over the summer, and they all have shined in their respective roles."
The best of the bunch is senior swingman Landon Huff, who led Trinity in scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) last season.
"Landon is a matchup nightmare," West said. "He is a tremendous athlete, particularly when slashing to the basket, and his length and athleticism make him a force defensively and when rebounding, especially on the offensive glass."
Also back are senior point guard Nate Hernandez (10.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg), senior center Landon Smith (8.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg), senior shooting guard Gavin Howard (8.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg), senior guard Nick Goetz, a defensive stopper who also led the squad in 3-point accuracy (35%), and senior guard Nolan Mills.
Junior power forward Nolan Huff will provide size and strength off the bench.
The Raiders appear ready to roll.
"We made the 3rd Region tournament for the first time in roughly 15 years and lost the 12th District Tournament title (to Grayson County) on a heartbreaking buzzer-beater," West said. "Getting there was something that we strived for, but the next step is to finish the job once we get there."
BUTLER COUNTYThe Bears started fast from the gate in 2021-22, winning their first five games, but the team was only so-so down the stretch — losing to Grayson County in the first round of the 12th District Tournament
Now, Butler County hopes to turn the corner and make some noise in the postseason with the addition of one of the state's top young prospects, 5-11 sophomore guard Ty Price, who has transferred in from South Warren.
Last season as a freshman, Price averaged 17.2 points per game for the Spartans, going 85-of-211 from 3-point range (40%). As an eighth-grader at Warren East in 2020-21, Price averaged 7.9 points per game.
The team's top returning player is senior guard Brody Hunt, also a football star, who averaged 14 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a junior. Hunt drilled 88% of his foul shots and hit 35% of his 3-pointers.
Also back is sophomore forward Lawson Rice, who averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a freshman, when he shot 53% from the field and 78% from the foul stripe.
EDMONSON COUNTYThe Wildcats finished 15-13 last season, falling to Whitesville Trinity in the opening round of he 12th District Tournament.
"We hope to be competitive in our district and have a winning record again," ECHS coach Brad Johnson said. "We have three starters returning that were able to get some things done last year."
Leading the way will be senior forward Braden Wall (12.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg), senior guard Braxton Highbaugh (7.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and senior forward Tyler Anderson (5.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg).
"Braden has worked hard, has a good basketball IQ and can play inside and outside," Johnson said. "Braxton is a good facilitator in the backcourt, and Tyler is a great athlete and a good defender."
Johnson believes Edmonson is versatile enough to succeed at any pace.
"We hope to be able to play both slow and fast," he said. "We think we can push the tempo a little bit. We hope we will be able to score in the post and shoot it well from the 3-point line. Our key will be maintaining good team chemistry and everyone working together.
"We worked hard last year and had some good wins — the next steps will be winning the district and winning games in the regional tournament."
GRAYSON COUNTYThe Cougars were 12th District champions last season and feel optimistic about another successful campaign.
"I think we have a chance to be a pretty good team," Grayson County coach Travis Johnston said. "We have size, shooters and an all-region player in River Blanton. If we can play together, share the ball and get after it on the defensive end, I think we can have a good season."
The 6-5 Blanton, a senior swingman, leads the way after averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds last season.
"River is capable of getting a double-double every night," Johnston said. "He is big and strong enough to play inside, and he is fast and can pass well enough to play on the outside.
"We will ask River to do a lot for us this year, and he is more than capable of rising to that challenge. I think he's going to have a fantastic year."
Also back are senior guard Brayden Childress (3.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 2.2 rpg), senior forward Dillon Horn (3.4 ppg, 4 rpg) and 6-5 eighth-grade guard Jack Logsdon (3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg), who started seven games as a seventh-grader.
"We will be balanced on offense, and on defense we will play our usual man to man and try to keep people out of the lane," Johnston said. "I think rebounding and playing together are our two biggest keys this season."