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Boys basketball: Optimism high at Sissonville

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Usually if a team would lose four of its five starters to graduation, expectations would be a lot lower heading into the following season.

Sissonville boys basketball Coach Rich Skeen doesn't fall into that category, though.

Skeen is quite optimistic when the Indians open their season at home Dec. 14 against Nicholas County.

"We lost two, 1,000-point scorers in Trent (Stowers) and Zach (Null) but that's high school basketball," Skeen said. "You are going to deal with stuff like this.

"I really like this group of kids though, and I have been looking forward to it all offseason.

"It's going to be a fun year. I couldn't be more pleased with where we are."

Adding to the fact that this year's Indian team will be very inexperienced, several of the players played on the football team that advanced to the quarterfinals in the playoffs, setting them back a week.

Skeen, however, sees the deep run that the Sissonville football team as a good thing.

"I usually tell the guys coming in from football to leave that aspect behind but I didn't do it with this group because what a great run they had in football," he said.

"I want them to keep that mentality and keep leading, and I think they will. I feel like the leaders on the football team in Nathan Miller and Duncan McClung are going to be our leaders as well."

Miller, a 6-foot-2 senior, is the lone returning starter, and will be counted on heavily by Skeen on a team that only has three players with varsity experience.

"Over the last three years, we have played him in a lot of different positions," Skeen said. "He's a big, strong kid. We will play him in the post this year. That is where he should excel."

McClung, a 6-3 senior, is another post player back with varsity experience that will be needed to step up his game in the absence of all the lost players to graduation.

"Duncan knows his limitations and is a banger inside," Skeen said. "He has lived in the weight room the last few years and looks really good. That extra strength and muscle has helped. We expect big things from him."

With Miller and McClung in the post, Skeen feels the strength of his team could be in the inside.

"We want to get the ball inside, more so than we have in the past," Skeen said. "We have had teams that have been really little. This year I really think we have four posts and will play two all the time."

Senior Adam Robinson is the third player with varsity experience back for Sissonville, and will see more minutes this season for the Indians.

The rest of the starting lineup is undecided.

"Honestly, I probably have nine or 10 guys that will start some throughout the year," Skeen said. "They all are about the same on any given day. We will play a style that will play many kids."

Junior Steven Hairston will see plenty of minutes and others in the mix include seniors Josh Rawson and Nat Jones along with junior Tyler Moss and sophomore Austin Burford.

Skeen also has a strong freshmen class that made it to the championship game in middle school last season. They include Seth Bowlin, Bryce Taylor, Blake Newhouse, and Chance Brown.

"It's an odd year that we have four freshmen that will play big roles," Skeen said. "I don't know as the boys coach that we have ever played freshmen as much as our freshmen will play this season."


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