Riley Gibson

Circleville’s Riley Gibson was the area’s top scorer a season ago.

While the Circleville Tigers may not be blessed with an abundance of height, coach Cody Carpenter wants to take advantage of the assets they do have.

“We want to play fast and be aggressive, said Carpenter, who comes to Roundtown after having served as coach for the last four years at Amanda-Clearcreek. “We’re small, but we’re quick and our perimeter defense has been pretty solid so far during the preseason.

“We’re going to be a team that runs the floor, gets up-and-down, pressures the teams we’re playing and looks to score in transition.”

Riley Gibson (16.7 points) is back in the fold after leading the area in scoring a season ago. Carpenter complimented the offseason Gibson and fellow junior guard Evan Justice (7.1 points) had.

“Riley is able to put the ball in the hole so many different ways and what I’ve also been impressed about with him is how he’s changed his game on defense and has become a strong perimeter defender,” Carpenter said. “Riley wants to become more than just a one-or-two dimensional player and he showed that in the offseason by how hard he worked in the weight room.

“Evan was also very dedicated in the weight room and you can see he is becoming a more confident player in his game and that athleticism is showing through. Evan has always been a solid defender and he has the potential to become a very solid two-way player.”

Carpenter wants Gibson and Justice to develop into a solid 1-2 combination that can help power the Tigers (8-16, 2-12 in 2019) not only this season, but next.

“The games of Riley and Evan really compliment each other. Combine that with their work ethic and athletic ability and they have the potential to become quite a duo on the court,” he said. “We know after the season that Riley had last year that teams will try and take him away from us, which makes it important for Evan and some of our other guys to step-up and take advantage of a good matchup or getting an open shot.”

Senior Brandon Parr is slated to handle point guard duties for the Tigers.

“Brandon does a really nice job of facilitating the offense, but he also has that capability of getting to the basket and knocking down perimeter shots,” Carpenter said. “I’ve been real pleased with what Brandon has given us so far.”

Carpenter is turning to a pair of juniors — 6-1 Jake Bell and 5-11 Ethan Moore — to do the “dirty work”.

“For as much as I’ll be talking about Riley, Evan and Brandon this season, Ethan and Jake are really the two guys who are going to be the backbone of the team,” Carpenter said. “They’re going to lead and they’re going to do that dirty work of taking charges, playing good defense and rebounding that you need for a team to be successful.”

Senior Logan Crabtree and sophomore Craig Fleck offer Carpenter two more shooters from the perimeter.

“Logan is going to provide senior leadership coming off the bench and knock down some shots from the perimeter,” Carpenter said. “Craig might be our best perimeter shooter on the team and he really had a great offseason in the weight room and working out in general. He has a quick release and doesn’t force things on offense.”

Carpenter admits depth is a concern for the Tigers entering Friday’s season-opener at Miami Trace.

“That has the potential to be our achilles’ heel,” Carpenter said. “As coaches, it’s our job to get our guys rest and to rotate kids the best way we can. That’s why it was also important for our guys to have a good offseason in the weight room, and they answered the call.

“Unfortunately, there are things we can’t control, like foul trouble or if we have an injury or two. That’s why it’s important to keep developing some of our younger kids who are working hard, guys like Kaleb Nungester, Ian Warden, Blake Vanover and our other kids.”

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