Jones Optimistic on Knights
By TRACY WATSON
KIDWELL — With three starters returning, one of which missed most of last season with a knee injury, plenty of experience and some new, unexpected faces on the roster, Tyler Consolidated Head Coach Rob Jones is optimistic his team can turn thing around this season.
The Silver Knights were young and inexperienced, and suffered through plenty of injuries, in finishing last season with a 5-18 record.
“We started two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior most of the time last year, a lot of that due to injuries,” Jones said. “But I am very optimistic that we can get things turned around and play better this year.
“These kids are very energetic and they like to get out and run. We are going into this season wanting to do exactly what we wanted to do last year, press a lot and get as many kids in and out of the game as possible. It’s what we tried to do last year, but we just ended up not having enough bodies to do it.”
Jones is excited about many things, however, none of them top the return of what he calls “the team spark plug,” in senior point-guard Jace Reed. Reed is the guy who can make things go on either end of the court for Tyler Consolidated, however, a knee injury in Game 4 last season ended his junior campaign.
Another pair of seniors return in 6-foot-3 post Quintin Richmond and 6-3 forward Trent Smith. The final senior, 6-0 guard Tyler Anderson came out late for the team but already has a very good chance of cracking the starting lineup.
Juniors who will play a big part include Dylan Roberts (5-9, guard), who had some spot starts last year, Nate Lancaster (5-11, guard), Kyle Mason (5-9, guard), Mark Wilson (5-9, guard), Luke Daugherty (6-0, forward) and Colby Buchanan, another 5-9 guard who played for Jones in middle school, but is new to the high school squad.
Sophomores Griffin Phillips (5-11, forward), who received some playing time last year and was the quarterback of the football team, and Tyler West (6-2, forward), who has grown significantly, could also be factors.
“I am very excited about Buchanan and Anderson, who are both new to the team and could really help us get better,” Jones added. “I am very excited and really looking forward to getting things rolling, and the kids are chomping at the bit to start.
“We have a school that these boys have been successful in cross country, soccer and football and we are hoping that success will carry over into basketball this year.
“Our schedule is tough, but it always is. Magnolia, Ravenswood and St. Marys should all be very good and there are plenty of other teams that will challenge us.”
Jones lost only one senior from last year’s squad in Kyle Frum.
The veteran coach, who has coached numerous sports as well as basketball at just about every level in Tyler County, is in his second year with the Silver Knights. His assistant coaches are P.J. Cunningham and Chad Gruber.