St. Albans’ boys basketball team will have quite a few new faces when it takes the court to start the regular season.
The Red Dragons lost three starting seniors from last year — Drew Reed, NuNu Claytor and Jamison McDaniels.
St. Albans, which went 15-8 and lost to Cabell Midland in the regional final last season, will have to rely on younger, less experienced players this year.
St. Albans coach Dana Womack said he has a good class coming in this year but there is a lot of work to do.
“We are in rebuilding mode, but we have a good, young class coming in of [freshmen] and we’re just trying to build our program.”
Womack is getting some looks at his team during Kanawha County’s three-week live period in July. The Red Dragons participated in the Par Mar KV 2K Summer Championships on Wednesday at West Virginia State University.
St. Albans lost to eventual champion George Washington in the second round of the six-team, single-elimination tournament. Womack said no matter what, the summer events are helpful.
“These summer things are great,” he said. “You get to work out all the kinks, you get to see what’s wrong with us and build on that for the season but we have a lot of growing to do. We have some maturity we need to make up quick and just learn to play team basketball.
“I tell my guys this: ‘We’re under-athletic, undersized and we have to do everything perfect. You have to work hard to do all the little things right for us to be competitive in this conference.’”
Jayden Clark is one of the Red Dragons’ returning starters. He wasn’t present during Wednesday’s tournament and Womack talked about the amount of varsity experience with which he’s working.
“Just have to build that team chemistry with everyone,” Womack said.
“Jayden Clark isn’t here. We’re playing with eight guys that just have JV experience and little varsity experience. Chance Hartwell and Eli [Samples] came off the bench last year a lot and sometimes started.”
St. Albans may have pulled a rabbit out of a hat with a junior who hadn’t played very much in his first couple years of high school. Tyrique Wilkins saw quite a bit of playing time for the Red Dragons in the KVC event and he looked like he can be an impact player for a rebuilding team.
“He played last year for us,” Womack said. “He came out late last year, he wound up getting in an accident off the court and he wasn’t able to finish out the season. He’s a very athletic kid.”
Womack said his team’s identity is going to be a team that plays with heart and he saw some of that during a pool play win over Herbert Hoover.
“The first game we played horrible and the second game we had effort,” he said. “I was preaching on the court — effort. You have to have effort. And they proved that.
“We were down 12 points at halftime. They came out, they started playing. They moved more on offense, not just standing around. And they played more team basketball. Which is a good thing for a young group. You have to have heart.”