Hardwood Heroes Sports

Cameron Kittle, 15, of Trimble gets the ball wrestled out from in between his legs before Glenwood makes a run for their basket in the second half of the Boys Division IV District Finals at Ohio University’s Convocation Center on Thursday, March 7, 2019. Glenwood defeated Trimble 64-53. (HANNAH SCHROEDER/ WOUB)

Hardwood Team Previews: Trimble, Federal Hocking, Eastern, Vinton County

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Trimble Tomcats

After an abrupt ending to the Trimble Tomcats’ football season, some of the players have traded in the shoulder pads for gym shoes.

The boys squad returns three of their four top scorers including last season’s leading scorer, Brayden Weber, who averaged almost 18 points per game. Blake Guffey and Cam Kittle make up the other two players of what should be a fun trio with Weber being the go-to scorer, Kittle being the ball handler, and Guffey being the post guy.

The Tomcats will be without Jeremiah Brown, who isn’t playing for the team this year. He was the team’s second-leading scorer during the 2018-2019 season. He averaged over 11 points per game. The Tomcats could also be without Conner Wright. After a stellar football season, Wright found himself with a series of injuries including an ankle and a broken thumb that didn’t heal properly. Wright will be out for a while with these injuries. On Saturday at the Shriners Basketball Preview, Wright could be spotted walking in a boot.

Saturday’s scrimmage against Vinton County could be a good indicator of what we could see from the Tomcats this season. A roster full of veterans and lots of speed is what we could expect from this team ahead of the regular season. The main keys for any team are chemistry and health. If this team can stay healthy and find a good way to connect on a basketball court, a lot of wins could be in the near future. They open up the season December 6 against Belpre at home.

On the girls’ side of things, the Lady Tomcats are poised to ride the momentum they built in the second half of the 2018-2019 season where they won six of their final nine games of the season. In a season where the team finished 9-13 (8-8) and sixth in the Hocking standings, they’ll be looking to make another step forward in the process. This team has come a long way from barely having enough girls for a team to where they are now.

The Lady Tomcats return a lot of star players including their leading scorer, Emily Young, who averaged 11 points per game last season. Throw Laikyn Imler and Jayne Six, their second and third leading scorers from last season, and you have a trio of young talented scorers looking to make a difference.

The Lady Tomcats have a lot of youth up and down their roster, but their experience last season could benefit them this year. Also, the team doesn’t have a lot of proven depth, so the health of the team will need to be a top priority going into the season. This team has the potential to surprise a lot of teams this year. They open up the season on December 3 against Eastern in Reedsville.

-Trimble Lead Reporter, Zach Paquette


Federal Hocking Lancers

The 2019-20 basketball season is finally upon us, and for both the boys and girls Federal Hocking Lancer teams, they look to have a strong start to the season.

Both teams had rough finishes to last year’s season and look to not repeat history. After all, both the boys and girls squads are returning their leaders and star players, so look for improvement from both teams.

For the Lady Lancers, they are coming off a 9-14 season and a loss to Notre Dame in the district semi-final. Last season, the Lady Lancers started off relatively slow, but eventually got into a groove later in the season.

In addition to the season ahead for the girls, head coach Jeremy Tolson will have the same roster as last year returning, so there’s a recipe for success. The return of Paige Tolson and Emma Beha for their junior years will also be key to the Lancers’ success.

Overall for the Lady Lancers, look for the girls to have significant improvement from last year, and to be a dark horse team in the TVC-Hocking.

As for the boys, last season didn’t end as expected, with a 6-17 record. However, head coach Jonathan Thompson was able to lead the boys to an improved record from the prior year. The improvements that happened last year can definitely lead to an upwards trend of success for the Lancers.

For returning lettermen, Brad Russell will be the main focus for the squad. Russell is in his final year in Federal Hocking, and he will be “that guy” for the Lancers. Rebounding, an inside defensive presence, or scoring, Russell will get it done.

Another key contributor to the success of the Lancers is Hunter Smith. Smith turned out to have a solid season last year, and he will look to be a dynamic duo with Russell. For Smith, you only get better with age and experience.

As the 2019-20 season is upon us, the Federal Hocking Lancers, both boys and girls, will look to learn from last season’s mistakes and cash in some W’s.

-Federal Hocking Lead Reporter, Alex Porter


Eastern Eagles

As the Eastern Eagles prepare for another season of boys and girls hoops, the Reedsville faithful know they’re witnessing a very special time for both these teams.

The Eastern boys are coming off of their best win total since the 2011 season in what was head coach David Kight’s first season with the team. While they’ll certainly look to continue that production and improve further, they’ll have to do so without the production of six graduating seniors. Coach Kight recently went as far as to call this group “the foundation of the new era” of Eagles hoops.

The experienced underclassmen are now lead by All-Heroes selection Garret Barringer, and the Eagles will look to continue their improvement.

While certainly looking at a very different Eastern squad, the chemistry and confidence of these boys will make them a tough out for anyone in the conference.

Meanwhile, head coach Jacob Parker and the Lady Eagles also come into this season with a bit of a chip on their shoulder as well.

Finishing last season as district runner up, the Eastern girls finished their year by capping off some excellent careers for multiple Lady Eagles seniors.

Much like the boys team, expect to see some experienced and tested underclassmen be asked to fill some big shoes in this coming basketball season. With playoff experience not an issue for these lady Eagles, you can expect their focus to be not only on winning games in their conference, but what this group can do when playoff time comes around.

-Eastern Lead Reporter, David Butz


Vinton County Vikings

Vinton County Vikings

For the Vikings, their boys squad went 13-11 last year, fighting their way to an 8-4 conference record.

Senior guard Gavin Arbaugh returns, looking to build off of his impressive season a year ago after averaging 16.5 ppg, but other than him, this team will need to fill the holes that last year’s senior class left behind.

The Vikings and head coach Matt Combs always seem to retool though, so look for players like Brock Hamon and Lance Montgomery to step in and step up this year. Senior Will Arthur will look to complement Arbaugh’s scoring in their final season together.

With the conference up for grabs and for a Vikings squad without much size to deploy, look for the Vikings to be a scrappy bunch that will still remain very competitive in the TVC-Ohio.

The Lady Vikings, meanwhile, went 20-2 last season, going undefeated until the second-to-last game of the regular season, and their good fortunes don’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

Head coach Rod Bentley still deploys one of the best all-around players in the TVC-Ohio in his own daughter Morgan Bentley.  Morgan can do it all, averaging 16 points per game, 12 rebounds per game, and 5 assists per game to showcase her all around impact on this team.

However, she isn’t the only threat returning from last year’s team, as sophomore Teagan Bartoe returns to provide a secondary scoring boost for this squad. Even senior Josie Ousley brings her lightning speed back to give the Lady Vikings a true threat in the fast break game.

The Lady Vikings were the best team in the TVC-Ohio last year, and they should be the heavy favorite to win the conference again this year thanks to their talent and depth, including sophomores Lacie Williams and Cameron Zinn, to round out one of the best teams in our coverage.

-Vinton County Lead Reporter, Jacob Murray