St. Albans' Kevic Watkins is part of a solid returning nucleus for the Red Dragons, who will hope to rebound from a 4-19 campaign last season.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- St. Albans graduated its top scorer in Nathan McNeil yet the Red Dragons boys basketball team remains focused to improve upon last year's difficult results.Following a 4-19 season, St. Albans returns an experienced squad with plenty of potential and the Red Dragons enter eager to leave their losing ways in the past."We've had a couple down years," Coach Marshall Kiser said. "I think we're looking to rebound and I think the kids are working hard."They just seem like they're a lot more excited. There's a lot more intensity there, they've worked really hard and I really think these guys feel like they're going to get something out of the hard work that they've put in."
In addition to McNeil, the Red Dragons lost starting guard Conner Beck to graduation and Thad Moss to transfer.Still, Kiser said the team boasts plenty of talent."We've got five guys (back) that were starters at one time or another during the year, so we have a good nucleus back," he said.Experience looks to be an advantage for the Red Dragons as seniors Tanner Aliff, Andrew Barnette, Taylor Clark, Sam Heywood, Kevic Watkins and Cody Young return, as well as juniors Ryan Broderick, Quamise Carter, A.J. Hines and Jeffrey Seams. Sophomore Zach Smith will add to the team's depth, too.At point guard, Seams will lead the offense, one Kiser said he expects to share the scoring responsibilities."This will, by far, be the best shooting team I've had since I've been here," Kiser said. "All of our guys can score. We're going to be pretty well balanced in scoring, I think. We've got more guys that can shoot the ball well for us from the perimeter, so I think that's going to be a huge plus for us."Beyond Seams, Kiser said Broderick, Hines, Carter and three-point shooter Young will create offensive opportunities outside the interior.Inside, Aliff will present as St. Albans' top post player, with 6-5 senior Byron Wiley, a new addition to the team and organized basketball, providing solid potential as he adjusts to playing with the squad.Watkins, a 6-3 forward, is expected to contribute across the floor, inside and outside, offensively and defensively."He's athletic, he's long," Kiser said of Watkins. "He runs up and down the floor well. He's going to play in and out some. He and Quamise Carter are both very athletic, and I think that's going to help us getting out."With a host of capable guards, the Red Dragons expect to move beyond some problems that have troubled the program during the past losing seasons.
"We've had difficulty taking care of the basketball in years past and I think that's not going to be a problem," Kiser said. "We've got more guys that are skilled with the basketball than we've had in a long time."That depth should play to St. Albans' favor and as a result, the starting lineup may be fluid, Kiser said."Our team is probably going to be playing eight, nine guys easy, maybe 10, and I don't think we're going to have a starting five all the time," he said. "I think it's going to depend on how we match up with some people."Defensively, SA will shift from its zone defense played last year."We'll play a little bit of matchup and we'll extend our defense a little bit, but our primary defense this year is going to man-to-man," Kiser said. "I think we'll be able to pressure the ball a little bit more. We're going to be a lot more perimeter-oriented as far as pushing the ball up and down the floor."With a new year comes new challenges, but this time the Red Dragons expect to be better prepared with more depth and focus.
St. Albans will open the season to play host to Point Pleasant 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10.