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Boys basketball: Talent comes together for Riverside

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When Dusty Herscher took over as the Riverside boys basketball coach last year, he had a clear mission in mind.

His first season with the Warriors didn't go as planned, finishing 8-16, but Herscher is expecting bigger and better things in his second year leading the program.

"Historically, this area has been really strong with DuPont and East Bank having been powerhouses, and Riverside was at first when the two consolidated," Herscher said. "We want to get back to that, and we have the talent to do so."

Herscher gets his first chance to make his mark on the program this season when Riverside plays its season opener on Dec. 11 at Shady Spring.

"We won eight games last year, and lost a few games we shouldn't have," Herscher said. "We expect to close games out this year. We play a tougher schedule that we did last year to make sure we got our team ready come tournament time. We are expecting double-figure wins."

Herscher emphasizes a hard-nosed defensive style of play from his five seasons as an assistant at Capital, but wasn't happy with his team's intensity last year.

He expects that to change, though.

"We came in with a new attitude," Herscher said. "We are going through a transformation period where we are learning how to play every play and be in the right places. I'm getting them to play every play this season. Team chemistry is a lot better, too."

Herscher points to the Warriors off-season program as hope that his message is getting across.

"I'm pleased because we played in over 60 games over the summer, different tournaments, and the three-week period. We won over 80 percent of them so that has helped them out a lot and given them a taste of winning."

Herscher will lean heavily on three returning starters in seniors Marcus Reed and Nick Light, along with sophomore guard Josh Butcher.

Reed, a 5-foot-11 guard, led Riverside in scoring last season at 16.4 points per game. Herscher knows he can score, but wants the athletic Reed to develop his entire game.

"Marcus brings a lot of athletic ability and scoring," Herscher said. "He is one of the best players around offensively. We are working on his rebounding and defense though. With his athleticism, he should be able to play defense the way we want. We need to get him to be an all-around player."

Light returns after averaging around 10 points per game a season, and Herscher believes his 6-6 frame will give the Warriors some versatility.

"He really helps us out because if teams go with a bigger lineup, he can go to the wing and either shoot it or take it to the basket. If teams play a smaller lineup, he can post up. He can go inside-out."

Butcher, a 5-11 point guard, started about six games as a freshman last year, an experience Herscher believes can only enhance his abilities this season.

"He played like a freshman last year, having some good games, and some bad games," Herscher said.

"Him playing was huge and will help experience wise. He is more equipped to run the offense. He can knock down opens shots. He's one of the best shooters I've seen."

Seniors Tim Womack and Tyus Wood are expected to round out the starting lineup for Riverside. Others who will see considerable action include sophomores Tamar Lawson and Trevor Smith, Roberto Innis, Tyler Eplin, and Quan Brock.

Herscher believes his team has more depth this season, which will help in his preferred style of defense.

"We are young but we have talent and more depth," Herscher said. "It helps with our up-tempo we like to play.  It also helps because we have great competition in practice. It's more intense and better practices transfers into game situations."



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