LEWISBURG — Coming off a 4-19 season, Joe Smith believes his Tri-County North boys’ basketball team could be the surprise team in the Cross County Conference this season.
The Panthers (3-9 CCC) return just two players from last season, but both have plenty of varsity experience.
“We are going to surprise a lot of teams. We will be much better offensively and defensively this season. The guys have put in a ton of work in the off-season compared to previous years,” said Smith, who is entering his second season at the helm of the Panthers. “All of these kids want to win now and with some of our leaders on the court I think it will be a great year at North.”
Junior guard Brian Stinson returns for his third varsity season and junior Josh Heindl is back for his second season.
Key newcomers include Dillon McCullough, a transfer student from Tri-Village, who moved back to North and freshman Dylan Stinson.
Rounding out the Panthers roster are junior Preston Lairson, junior Philip Lockwood, sophomore Sharvezz Carter and junior Preston Jackson.
Smith said he believes the race for the conference title is up for grabs and will be fun for fans to watch.
“I really think that the CCC is going to be fun to watch this season. I think a lot of teams are going to be more competitive this year. There are a lot of good players in the conference and anybody could win each night,” he said.
The Panthers are scheduled to begin the season on Saturday, Dec. 2 at Middletown Madison.
They will play their home opener and first CCC contest of the season on Friday, Dec. 8, against rival Twin Valley South.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH