Eagles seek continued growth

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SR boys basketball preview

By Mike Forster

They did it in football.

Why not in basketball?

Staunton River has certainly experienced a renaissance in its boys sports programs.

Some of them, such as outdoor track and wrestling, won district titles last year for the first time in many moons.

The football team went 7-3 in the regular season, making it to the regional semifinals.

Is the basketball team ready to make a move?

There seems to be no better year than this one.  The team is senior-laden, talented and motivated.

Second-year head coach Brandon Harris seeks to see an improvement over last year’s team, which finished 2-6 in the Blue Ridge (fourth place) and 6-18 overall.

Keep in mind, those six wins represent the best that the Eagles have done in some time.

There’s certainly no lack of interest in the team, as Harris is carrying 14 players on the squad.

Obviously, each of those players can contribute something, or else they’d not have been asked to stick around.

One who is expected to contribute early and often is Chris Eggleston.

A second-team all-district selectee last year, Eggleston is shaping up as the go-to guy on this year’s unit.

Harris sees it that way.  “Chris needs to be the man this year,” he said. 

Possessed of very long arms and an outstanding dribble, Eggleston is the kind of player who goes on feel.  “He does things that you just can’t coach,” praised Harris.

Eggleston will chiefly be found out on the wing, where he’ll be joined by Rico Turner, another senior.

Last season was Turner’s first in organized basketball.  Yet, he took to it well enough that this year he is a key to the team.

Long and athletic, Turner is the kind of kid you have to kick out of the gym, according to his coach.

Point guard should get a lot of attention.  That’s because Harris is going with a freshman there. Deshawn Martin steps in at point, and has already earned the trust of Harris.

“He’s quick and unselfish,” assessed the coach.  “He has a pass-first mentality.”

Exactly what you want out of your point.

Jarodd Nichols can plug in nicely at either guard position.  An outstanding athlete who is as quick as a cat, Nichols is primarily a defensive specialist.  Yet, you underestimate his offensive skill at your own peril.

We like Nichols because he’s the kind of teammate who will do what is best for improving his teams’ chances of victory (that’s teams, as in football and baseball, as well)

Speaking of football standouts, we’d be remiss if we didn’t bring the name of  Meech Coles into the discussion.

The Blue Ridge offensive player of the year in football, Coles now lends his talents to the hardwoods.

Coles is shortish, but uses his size and strength to fill the post.

Also in the post, you’ll find the likes of Rodney Kasey and  Cam Holdren, the team’s two big guys.

Kasey is the kind of player who may not show up big on the stats page, but makes huge contributions that are less tangible, primarily in his leadership.

Holdren, just a sophomore, will shift his focus from pure defense (last season) to become more offensive minded.

Harris wants 8-10 points per game from him, on top of 10 rebounds.

Others who are expected to provide big boosts include seniors Stephen Hardy, Dustin Nichols and Bobby Hobbs.

At 6’4”, Nichols is still fairly new to the game.  But he is catching on quickly through his hard work.  His size will be a big help.

Hardy and Hobbs are non-stop blasts of energy.

Don’t confuse their lack of size with a lack of productivity.

Both can fill in nicely on the perimeter.  Both can mix it up with the best of them on defense.  Both give you everything they’ve got.

Of course, others are expected to step up.

That will be needed to continue this team’s development.