Buckeyes Prepare To Make Prolonged Playoff Run

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Last season, the Nelsonville-York boys team surprised many with their push towards the Schottenstein Center. Few fans expected them to make it past the first round, and even less expected them to get their revenge over Crooksville. However, their postseason push ended with a loss to Coal Grove. Now, all that is on the Buckeyes' mind is a prolonged playoff run.

“I would like to actually win in the playoffs," senior forward Jeremy Warren said. "Last year, we didn’t get that opportunity; we fell short.”

The Buckeyes utilized a transition-oriented offense last season, using fast breaks and turnovers to jump-start many of their offensive possessions.

“Our philosophy is that we’re a transition team. For us, that means three phases," Buckeyes coach Jay Kline said. "In order to be a transition team, you have to play defense. We look at the defense first, then we’re rebounding, and then we’re running with a purpose.” 

One of the problems worrying many N-Y fans this season is a lack of leadership. Josh Fayette was the leader last season, among the six other seniors that graduated last year. But there are a lot of exciting, new faces to take on bigger roles this season. According to Kline, one underclassman leader to watch is sophomore point guard Hunter Edwards.

“He’s probably one of the fastest kids that I’ve had up and down the floor," Kline said. "He’s got great athleticism and leadership abilities by playing quarterback during football season. He’s basically now the quarterback of our offense.”

But Kline isn't the only one to be excited by the young point guard, the current seniors are ready to see what Edwards can do during game time as well. As for the rest of the youthful players, senior forward Jay Elliott thinks they need to to separate their emotions from the game.

“They have to realize that they’re playing against kids 1-2 years older than them. They need to keep their heads up, don’t worry about what mistakes they make, and just go on with the next play,” Elliott said.

“We always want to take the next step, and the next step for this program is to compete for a TVC championship and a sectional championship. With the experience that we have, that’s a big possibility for us,” Kline said.

The boys’ season starts on Friday, Dec. 5, when they travel to Federal Hocking to take on the Lancers at 7:15 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Lady Buckeyes won their first sectional title in seven years last season and went on to win the district title. However, their chance to see Schottenstein Center was cut short in a heartbreaking loss to Garaway.

They also lost leadership with key leaders Angela Meade and Jennah Addis graduating last summer. But girls' coach Amanda Dalton is not worried, as her two captains, senior center Madison Davis and junior center Kaitlyn Hurd, are ready to step up this year.

“They’re both great leaders," Dalton said. "Both of them are going to try and help my young guards mature as the season goes on, and the guards are going to look to them for guidance.”

And although former leader Jennah Addis can't return to the court, her younger sister, Jessie Addis, is carrying on where her sister left off by making some significant contributions as a freshman. 

“She stepped in this summer and has done great so far," Dalton said. She’s a natural leader as far as what your point guard wants to do."

Dalton has a lot of youth in the guard position with one freshman and three sophomores. Even with the youthful squad, Davis and Hurd feel that it will benefit the team.

“When we were younger, we are all together. We’ve been like a little group; it’s just like playing basketball with your good friends,” Hurd said.

This year, Dalton plans on using defense and transition as the two key principles that will define their season. Last season, they were slow up and down the court, and speed has been a major focus during the offseason.

“We want to get up and down the court as fast as we can. When your offense is stagnant, I feel like you have to get transition baskets. That’s why we really want to focus on defense and getting better,” Dalton said.

The Lady Buckeyes are ready for the TVC games that will come later in the season and want to have the right execution, not just the victory.

“When we play our league games, everything is going to come down to the 4th quarter," Dalton said. "We’re focusing on the process; we’re not really worrying about wins. We’re focusing on getting a little bit better on each possession.”

The Lady Buckeyes’ season starts on Monday, Dec. 1, when they hit the road to take on the New Lexington Panthers at 7:15 p.m.