Prep boys basketball: Irish looking ahead to defending title
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Being the defending Class A champions, the Charleston Catholic boys basketball team knows it poses a huge bull's-eye to the opposition this season.
However, Irish Coach Bill McClanahan doesn't feel any added pressure on his Catholic team this season.
"It's wonderful to be the defending state champions, but the truth of the matter is that once the season starts, we make no mention of that," McClanahan said. "Our focus is on this year and what we want to achieve.
"It's a wonderful standard to try and maintain what the program accomplished but this is a new year. This year's team gets a chance to leave their footprint on the program and identify their own persona."
The Irish will look to take their first step in repeating when they open their season at Poca on Dec. 18.
"Our expectations are pretty consistent," McClanahan said. "We want to be fundamentally sound, play good team defense, and play our best basketball around the first of March. If those things happen, we will take whatever results we get."
McClanahan welcomes back two starters who will be counted on heavily in David Godwin, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, and 6-4 junior forward Nick George.
"David is probably one of the most skilled players around," McClanahan said. "He is really quick and is exceptional and penetrating the lane. He has worked hard on his outside shot so teams can't just play off him.
"Nick has worked as hard at developing his game as any player I have had. Haston Gerencir did it, Bo King did it a few years ago for us, and Nick has taken his game to another level. I'm interested to see how much it pays off because he has really put in the work."
George provides the Irish with great versatility, being able to play three different positions at the 3, 4, or 5 spot.
"The versatility and athleticism of Nick should allow us to put two of three different lineups out on the floor," McClanahan said. "For the first time in a long time, we have the opportunity to go small with a really quick and athletic lineup or we can go really big."
Catholic returns a lot of talent but the Irish must replace point guard Alex Casingal, who graduated.
"We have two issues and one is to develop a point guard like we need to do to be successful, and the second is to find a backup," McClanahan said. "That could be done by committee."
Garet McCarty, a 5-10 junior, steps into the point guard position, and despite his inexperience, McClanahan has high hopes for his new floor general.
"We are hoping Garet will step up and play that role," McClanahan said. "He is extremely skilled, handles the ball really well, and has a good basketball IQ. His job will be to get others involved, and if he does that, he can be a really good point guard."
To go along with the starting spots consisting of Godwin, George, and McCarty, seniors Kiefer Hovorka and Michael Tupta, along with junior Russell Miller will see plenty of action on the wing.
The Irish feature solid size inside with three seniors in Zach Casto (6-3), Andy Hoyer (6-3) and Nelson McKown (5-10, 200 pounds), along with junior Patrick Herlihy (6-7).
"For us to be successful, our big men will have to play really well," McClanahan said. "We need them to rebound and play good defense. They will be significant to our success."
The Irish figure to be right in the mix to defend their title, but McClanahan also pointed to Tug Valley and Magnolia to be strong contenders. Both teams are former Class AA powers that dropped down in classification to Class A.