LEWISBURG — Joe Smith is excited about this basketball season.
Smith, who is entering his fourth season as Tri-County North’s boys basketball coach, feels he has the talent to have a successful season.
Despite losing six players from a 9-13 team, including three, three-year lettermen, Smith is optimistic about this season.
Smith said he is expecting the team to be led by junior Dylan Stinson, a first-team All-CCC player and Division IV District 15 Player of the Year last season.
Stinson will move to the point this year.
“He’ll be everything to us,” Smith said. “He’s going to be our guy. People know who he is. He’s a pretty special talent. He averaged almost 11 rebounds a game for us last year. He does everything for us and this year he’s moving to point guard for us. He’s going to attract a lot of attention so he’s going to create a lot of open shots for guys.”
Also back with varsity experience is sophomore Cooper Cole.
“He’s going to be kind of our muscle. He’s the guys that is probably going to match up with most of the other teams bigs. He jumps extremely well. He’s one of those kids he thinks he can go get everything. He’s a high-energy guy. He wants to play hard. He wants to play fast. Him and Dylan will feed off of each other really well,” Smith said.
From there, North has limited experience.
“Other than that, it’s limited,” Smith said of the team’s experience at the varsity level.
New to the varsity this season are seniors Jacob Pennington, Austin Miracle and transfer Max Dolan, juniors Ehtan Rike, Braeden Rike, Wyatt Royer, Alex Lynch and Tyler Cross, in addition to sophomores Brett Woodyard and Luke Eby.
Smith said Royer will be relied on to score.
“He’s going to be my shooter. We’ve worked on his range and everything. He averaged right around 15 for JV last year. He’s going to bring a lot of shooting that we need.”
Dolan transferred from Northmont.
“He’s a big kid who can play the three for us,” Smith said.
Smith said size could be an advantage for his team.
“That’s one good thing about my team, I think we’re pretty big compared to a lot (of others). We’re going to have some size we’re going to take advantage of,” he said.
He noted if his team gave a maximum effort each night, it will have a chance to contend for league title.
“I think when we put in our full effort and give 100 percent, when we get down and play defense and do the things that we can, I think were anywhere from a 12 to 14 win team. But, on the flip side of that, basketball is one of those games where you don’t give that effort you can get beat any night,” Smith said.
He said National Trail is the team beat in the CCC.
“Trail’s the favorite. I think with the group we have we’re capable of playing with anybody in the conference. I think you have Trail, then Arcanum. Then really from there I think its a free-for-all. I don’t think we’re not that much below them. You look at South, Tony gets his kids to play hard every season. It doesn’t matter who he has. I’m trying to get my guys that way. I’m trying to get this program that way. I think its going to be one of those years where two, maybe three loses in the conference could win the conference,” he said.
“This year, we have the talent and I have the athletes. It’s just getting them the basketball knowledge. It could be really fun this year. I’m excited.”
Smith said North fans can expect to see the Panthers play a fast paced game.
“We’re going to play fast. We’re eight, nine deep. My goal is to run. You’re going to see effort,” he said. “ Guys know that if there’s no effort they’re coming out.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or follow on Twitter @emowen_RH