WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley South boys basketball will have a new face after 33 years.
Ryan Innis will take over coaching duties for the Panthers, replacing longtime coach Tony Augspurger as both coach and athletic director.
“Replacing a hall of fame head coach like Tony Augspurger after 33 years will be challenging at times,” Innis said. “I was blessed to play for Coach Augspurger in the mid to late 2000s and eventually joined his staff as a coach last season. I can definitely say that we both share a lot of coaching similarities.”
Innis views himself as a “players’ coach” where his players aren’t afraid to make mistakes, play loose or go make plays.
“My philosophy as a coach is to play fast, aggressive and to try to create as many mismatches as possible offensively and defensively,” he said. “I am very excited for my first-year stint here at Twin Valley South.”
After a 4-19 record last season, playing fast and loose might just be the thing to turn things around for Twin Valley South this season, and they’ll be led by four returning seniors: Brayden Marker, Michael Crews, Levi Gearhart and Tyler Wright.
“We have a hungry group of guys that have bought in and have committed to changing the culture here at Twin Valley South. They have put in the work over the summer and have been working extremely hard and doing all the right things during the preseason.”
Innis said South will rely heavily on Marker this season.
“He is our engine that makes us go,” he said. “He’s a great athlete, [an] excellent floor leader and a player who continues to grow as a point guard.”
Crews and Gearhart are two returning starters who Innis said does all the right things.
“They don’t care about individual accolades, they are strictly team-first guys, and that’s what I love about them,” he said. “We will rely on them to make shots for us and their senior leadership.”
Innis said Wright will see a completely different role this season.
“Tyler has the ability to play inside and out and we will need him to make shots for us to be successful,” he said.
Junior Lucas Sievering will also return this season after being kept out due to injuries last year.
“Lucas is extremely athletic and at 6’5 he can do some things that most 6’5 post players shouldn’t be able to do. He has completely bought in and has taken his game to another level over the off-season.”
South will also welcome freshman Seth Vorhis, sophomore Cole McNinch and junior Logan Clark.
“Seth Vorhis, Cole McNinch and Logan Clark are guys who will play a lot of minutes for us,” Innis said. “This will be their first varsity action and we will rely on them to overcome those first-year jitters, do all the little things and not be afraid to make plays. Along with our returning starters, we have a ton of underclassmen that are going to push for some varsity time. I love what I have seen out of our freshman class thus far. We have some guys that I’m going to have a hard time not finding minutes for this season, which is a great problem to have.”
Living up to the pedigree of a coach like Tony Augspurger won’t be easy, but with a strong returning lineup for the Panthers, anything could happen this season.
South’s season will begin as the Panthers host a tip-off tournament with South, Eaton, Dixie and National Trail this weekend, and though they’ll be playing on Coach A Court, minted during last year’s home finale after Augspurger’s last home game, a new era begins for Twin Valley South.
“I’m excited for the future of Twin Valley South basketball,” Innis said.
Reach Braden Moles at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @BradenMoles