Guards set to drive TV this season
Editor’s note: The following is the final in a series of previews of area high school boys and girls basketball teams.
MILL CREEK — Tygarts Valley will rely on a veteran group of backcourt players to lead the way in the shortened and delayed 2021 season.
“Our guards are definitely the strength of our team,” said Tom Wamsley, entering his 31st season as the Bulldog mentor. “We have a lot of size and young talent with our post players, but they need time to develop and unfortunately — like everyone else this season — we don’t have that.”
Tygarts Valley lost all-state honorable-mention selection and all-Mason-Dixon Conference first-teamer Logan George to graduation.
“Logan played the most minutes on our team last year and was our leading scorer and rebounder,” Wamsley said. “We also must place guard Ben Taylor and Cole Arbogast, who was a key player inside for us.”
What Tygarts Valley does have back is players with starting experience at the guard positions in seniors Josh Bright and Aidan Row.
Bright was an all-Mason-Dixon second-team choice in 2019-20 and Row made the honorable-mention list.
Junior Garrett Gibson came off the bench last season but played the second most minutes per game behind George.
Senior Liam Depp and junior Paden Haney are back as well at guard.
Sophomores Jordan Phillips and Logan Phillips are also fighting for playing time in the backcourt.
“This is the quickest team I’ve ever had. Our offense will be built around our guards,” Wamsley said.
Bright, Row and Gibson will be joined in the starting lineup by 6-foot-2 junior forward Riley Tackett, who saw action last season.
The final starter will be either Depp, 6-3 junior forward Dalton Goode or sophomore guard Ezra Scott.
“The fifth starter will depend on matchups and could change each game,” Wamsley said.
Other post players Wamsley is counting on are 6-5 sophomore Ashton Workman and 6-4 junior Caden Swecker.
“Ashton is battling some injuries and we hope to have him back soon,” Wamsley said. “And Caden Swecker also gives us some good size inside.
“One of the keys for us will be rebounding. We have to have some kids step up in that department.”
Along with its Mason-Dixon Conference slate, Tygarts Valley has games against the likes of Elkins, Harman. Tucker County and Class A, No. 2 Pendleton County on the schedule.
The Bulldogs will also compete in the annual West Virginia Hometown Invitational Tournament which is fortunately still being held despite the delayed season.
There will be four classifications in place this season in basketball.
Tygarts Valley will remain at the single-A level.
The Bulldogs will be in ion II, Section 2 with Harman, Pocahontas County and Pendleton County.
Region II, Section 1 schools include Tucker County, East Hardy, Paw Paw and Union.
Tygarts Valley opens the season Friday at Class A, No. 7 Clay-Battelle.