Basketball practice underway for area high schools
HUNTINGTON — Most area high schools put away the oblong ball and rolled out the round one Monday.
High school basketball practice began Monday in West Virginia and most area teams, except those in the football postseason, had a full compliment of players take to the courts. Practice already started in Ohio and Kentucky.
“Our practice went well,” Cabell Midland boys coach Rick Chaffin said of Monday’s initial workout. “We’re excited with the kids we have and out and expectations for this year are high.”
The Knights won eight games last season, the most victories for the program since winning 16 in 2009-10. Chaffin said he hopes to build on the team’s improvement from his first season.
“Last year was a learning process for everyone and this season my guys are ready to go,” Chaffin said. “We have a senior group that wants to do whatever it takes to win.”
Huntington High was on the court with new boys coach Ty Holmes, who replaced the retired Ron Hess. The Highlanders have been ultra-successful in recent seasons, making seven consecutive state tournament appearances and winning three state titles, the last in 2017. Holmes was an assistant to Hess during that streak and hopes Monday’s workout was the beginning of the continuation of the run.
“I’m very excited,” Holmes said. “I’m looking forward to working with the guys we have.”
The Highlanders will be without one of the state’s premier players in sophomore Amare Smith, a 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore who is out for the season after tearing a knee ligament in the offseason.
“Amare is doing better,” Holmes said. “We won’t have him this season, but I’m excited to get started. New era, same tradition.”
Huntington High has several players, including Tajhan Blackwell, Kris Brown and Darnell Wright, still playing football, as does Spring Valley. The Highlanders visit the Timberwolves at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Class AAA football playoff quarterfinals.
Cabell Midland girls coach Matt Adkins said he looks forward to the season after going 19-6 last year and coming within one game of the Class AAA state tournament, falling 48-43 to state champion Parkersburg in the regional tournament. The Knights lost four starters in Morgan Bennett, Faith Craddock, Haley Waugh and Sierra Womack, but feature some talented young players to go with senior guard Kirya Kingery.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Adkins said of the season. “We’re going to be young, but the goal is to get better and be good by tournament time.”
In Ohio, Fairland participated in a tri-scrimmage with Miami Trace and Oak Hill. Dragons coach Jon Buchanan said he, his team and Fairland’s fans are excited to shoot for an eighth consecutive 20-win season.
“What a blessing Fairland is,” Buchanan said. “We had a huge crowd for our first home scrimmage. I can’t say enough about our community and fans. It’s so awesome for our kids and staff to have this kind of support.”
The regular season begins the last week of November in Ohio and Kentucky, the first week of December in West Virginia.