Cadets Replace Entire Starting Lineup
By JOSH STROPE
WHEELING — When you lose six seniors — all starters — there can be a lot of fret when it comes to your season.
Linsly coach James Wallace will have none of that.
At Linsly, the expectations never change, regardless of who puts on that uniform.
“We have had some great people graduate in the past. That seems to be the trend that after four years, they don’t come back,” Wallace said jokingly. “We just have to figure out who we are in terms of personality and skill and coach to their strengths.
“With a young team, confidence will be really important. I think they are mature enough to know it’s how we go out and play and the type of basketball we play, the wins will follow that. As long as we stay involved in the process, playing hard and staying prepared, the wins will come. I think this team is staring to embrace the little things.”
Gone are first team All-Valley selection Dylan Harrison, as well as Jacob “Butter” Murray, Malachi Onwuka, Jesse Nhitemuka Nkussi, Greyson Archbold and Warren Saunders.
Not only does that experience walk out the door, but so does the scoring. Jon Milton, a 6-1 junior guard, is the returning leading scorer at three points per game. The Cadets lost 95 percent of their scoring.
Needless to say, there are a lot of positions up for grabs and Wallace and his staff are unsure of who will make up the staring lineup until the Dec. 5 opener at home against Fort Frye.
“We don’t have a ton of experience coming back with all five starters being gone,” Wallace said. “We have a lot of young guys competing and we are looking to pull 8-11 who are daily, interchangeable between first and second team.”
The two seniors are guards Tavion Minor (5-10) and Wheeling Central transfer Jimmy Zecca (6-2).
The juniors are made up of Milton (6-1, guard), Chaz Ghaphery (6-5, forward), Bishop Donahue transfer Mickey Reilly (6-5, forward) and Mikal Warfield-Payne (6-2, guard).
Matt Borkoski (6-5, forward), Paul Cook (6-3, forward), Logan Gill (5-9, guard), Marshall Taylor (6-3, guard), Trevin Tush (5-11, guard) and Joe Zaccirey (6-4, forward) make up the sophomores.
“Those are probably our core group we will have going forward,” Wallace said.
Looking to earn playing time will be a trio of freshmen in Will Carson (5-10, guard), Dylan Dunlevy (5-11, guard) and Hunter Kelley (6-4, forward).
“We are excited because we can sort of rebuild this team,” Wallace said. “They don’t have a lot of bad habits, which is nice because we can teach them our own habits.
“Expectations are always the same here. Come out and play hard and compete for championships. It doesn’t matter if we have a sophomore or junior-laden team or a senior laden team, the expectations never change. We will work the same, prepare the same, expect the same. We have a group that will look different that last year, but the beauty of basketball is that there is a lot of different ways to win games. This team can find different ways to win and I think this team will find its own way to be successful.
“This is a team that wants to prove people wrong. They don’t want to hear we are in a rebuilding year and ‘what’s next?’ They want to show who they are and that is going to be a big strength.”
Wallace is assisted by Dave Koehler, Michael Thomas and Greg Martin.