Hornets To Rely On Three Seniors For Leadership
The Hundred Hornets have tasted success on the court the last several seasons under the tutelage of Justin Balwanz, but this year they will have to do it without three quality graduates and one assistant coach.
Logan McDiffitt, Zach Phillips, and Emery Smith have graduated and veteran Assistant Coach Virgil Wilkins has retired from coaching after many years of service.
However, Balwanz has twin brothers Dalton and Shane Kuhn at his disposal and forward Tyrell Watson to rely on until he can mold players like Brady Koontz, Chris Shackleford, and Nick Phillips into solid players who can carry the load at any given time.
Plus, players like 6’4 Jerico Parks can help a lot as soon as he gets some playing time under his belt.
Other players looking to get some playing time include Rusty Morris and Kirk Shriver.
Filling out the roster is James Stewart, Greg Stewart, Ethan Umstead, and Joshua King.
The Kuhn twins can score from everywhere on the court, including beyond the arch, where they have excelled in the past. Dalton has started the past three seasons, while brother Shane has started the past two years and spot-started when the Hornets were one basket away from making it to the Dance three seasons ago.
Though the duo can light it up from outside, they can also take it to the hole and make plays. They can handle the rock, so most teams won’t be able to press them. When they get pressed, Watson will make opponents pay, like he did against Paden City, where he scored 29 points, including a slam dunk.
Helping Balwanz is Brian Bartlett who has been a basketball referee and a junior high basketball coach, as well as the Lady Hornets’ softball coach the past several seasons.
The Hundred Hornets, along with many small schools in West Virginia, have started a Hometown Invitational Tournament that will include 12 teams this season and hopefully more in the future.
“I think this will be a real positive-teams with very small public schools getting to go up against competition at their level. We are just wanting to make this a very positive thing,” said Balwanz. “This is a grass roots thing that we are starting for small school teams. We actually had to turn teams away this year.”
The Hornets, as well as the Lady Hornets, the Wildcats, and Lady ‘Cats, along with the Lady Eagles don’t have a junior varsity team this season, so the programs will need to do well for other athletes to come forward and keep athletic programs like basketball afloat.
Balwanz has stated that he has three pretty big voids to fill, but states they have a solid group and a lot of younger kids who will try and step in and prove themselves to get some playing time.
“It will be interesting to see how well our seniors adapt to leadership roles, but so far, I have liked everything that has been happening,” he said.
“I truly believe that these seniors will take this team as far as they want with their great work ethic and effort. One of our biggest goals is to be one of the hardest working teams in the state, in any class.”