Prep boys basketball: Winfield ready to compete in MSAC
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Mountain State Athletic Conference welcomes the Winfield boys basketball team to the fray this season and Generals Coach Pat McGinnis thinks his bunch is ready for the task.
Winfield joined Class AAA in 2008 and played many MSAC opponents during the past few seasons, but will play the full conference schedule now as members. McGinnis said he thinks his players have the talent to handle it, too.
"We like this team this year," he said. "We're in the MSAC for the first time. That's a major challenge for us, but we're really excited about the challenge. I think we've got a good group.
"We pretty much played most of the MSAC teams over the last four years we've been in AAA. We've played those guys pretty much every year. Now, we just have to play each one of them at least one time."
There may be some new opponents for Winfield like Beckley, Princeton and George Washington, though it's likely the season will hinge on outcomes against two familiar foes in South Charleston and Logan.
"The last three years, it seems like the same scenario," McGinnis said, "we've gone to South Charleston and we've lost, then we go Logan and we've lost."
Winfield finished the 2011-2012 season with a 15-10 record after falling to South Charleston in the sectional championship then to Logan in the Region 4 co-final.
McGinnis, entering his 12th season with the Generals, said he thinks depth will be a team strength that should get Winfield over the hump.
"In AA, you could kind of get by with two good players," McGinnis said. "You can't do that in AAA really. You have to have five good players on the floor all the time. I think we are deeper this year."
The Generals graduated point guard Cam Powell and forward Zach Gunter while guard David Gaydosz left via transfer. Junior forward Chris Turner and junior guard Zach Fisher lead Winfield's top returners. Both players averaged approximately 13 points per game last season.
This year, Fisher will split the duties at point with junior Jake Lemmerman, McGinnis said.
"Fisher is more of our two-guard, our shooting guard, but if we go to a bigger lineup, there's a good chance Fisher will be at the point guard," he said.
In addition to solid guard play, Winfield expects to create post presence and depth, too.
Garrett Grafton, a 6-3, 290-pound center, and senior Brock Pence, 6-5, will work the interior for the Generals. Grafton was injured during the football season and did not play. His status is still uncertain, McGinnis said, but Pence returns some starting experience from last season.
Because of the size in the paint and guard skills outside, McGinnis said he thinks there are plenty of positives about Winfield.
"I think one of our strengths, I hope, will be rebounding," he said. "I think we're going to be a little bit better shooting team this year than we were, hopefully, and I think our depth."
McGinnis said others expected to contribute regularly include Bear Bellomy, Taylor Hearn, John Hodges and Toby Show. McGinnis added Hearn is currently injured with a sprained ankle.
"We have a lot of the guys vying for starting positions," McGinnis said. "It's kind of wide open."
There's talent across the board for Winfield, McGinnis said, just like the rest of the MSAC.
"It should be interesting," he said. "Obviously, South Charleston is going to be good, but I think there's a lot of parity in the conference now."
To contend in each game, McGinnis said defense will be pivotal.
"You've got to be able to guard people in the MSAC and in AAA, you've got to be able to guard good athletes," he said. "We're hoping we're going to be able to guard a little bit better."
For Winfield, the newest MSAC members, the schedule isn't daunting, it's an opportunity.
"It gives your kids something to play for being in the conference, see how we stack up and get better as the year goes along," McGinnis said. "We're going to try to set some high goals and hopefully reach them, work hard to reach them."