Boys basketball: Nitro looks to replace Sirianni's production
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When the Nitro Wildcats suit up for the basketball season opener against Poca tonight in Nitro, they will do so without the scoring production of Angelo Sirianni.
Sirianni, the county's second leading scorer last year, accounted for 36 percent of the Wildcats' points last season. He has since moved a few miles down the road to play at West Virginia State.
With Sirianni departed, Nitro Coach Bryan Faber has little experience left on his roster, but he says that can be viewed as a positive.
"The thing about this group is they are very coachable," Faber said. "They play really, really hard and they've done everything that we've asked them to do."
Faber has compiled a 25-28 record since taking over the program in the fall of 2011 - a marked improvement from the 3-24 of the 2010-11 season.
Sirianni may have been the team's top scorer last season, but it is sophomore Trevon Taylor that has given Poca, tonight's season-opening opponent, nightmares since February.
Taylor rattled in an 8-foot jumper at the buzzer to take down Poca, 45-43, in that game.
"He had a really, really good season last year," Faber said. "We expect big things out of him."
Last season as a freshman, Taylor started as a shooting guard and averaged 12 points per game.
"This year we've been working hard," Taylor said. "We are much more fast paced this year and have a higher basketball IQ."
Added Tyler Barton: "Fast. We are a very fast team."
Barton, a two-year starter and the leading rebounder for Nitro, hurt his Achilles tendon against Logan in the ninth week of Nitro's football season. He hasn't scrimmaged, but practiced with the Wildcats' basketball team and Faber hopes he will be ready once the season starts.
Faber said that he hasn't picked a starting lineup, but there were plenty of guys fighting for playing time.
J.P. Mawyer, a senior who transferred from Sissonville two years ago, will play point guard and be the floor general.
"He has really developed into a distributor and leader," Faber said. "He's an excellent shooter and defender."
Mawyer added to the chorus of speed.
"We should be pretty good this year," Mawyer said. "We are fast and athletic - don't have a lot of size but we have really good guards and we can shoot."
Buck Sheppard, who found his way into the starting lineup as a freshman two seasons ago, is back after a season of a year off to wrestle. The wingman will add stability to the perimeter.
"We are really excited to have him back," Faber said. "Buck is a strong athletic kid that can shoot it."
Senior Josiah Bosley missed several games last year due to injury but is back this season to play in the post for the Wildcats.
Ian Lee, Michael Heidenrich and Neil Sallada are moving up from the junior varsity squad and will see significant playing time this year.
"We are going to get our best players the best looks we can," Faber said. "The MSAC is the best conference in the state. We have to defend and rebound well in this league. If you can't do that you don't have a chance."
Nitro's first test tonight is one of its closest rivals.
"They are a great defensive team probably the best defensive team we will play all year." Faber said of Poca. "We've been preparing for them.
"Whether we play there or here. The gym is going to be packed. Everybody likes it."