ASHVILLE — While there has been a learning curve in the preseason, the Teays Valley Vikings have welcomed a change in the pace they’ll play at this winter on the basketball court.
“We’ve had to make some adjustments and had some learning moments during the preseason but, overall, the kids have been receptive to playing at a quicker pace and they’ve been working hard to learn how we want to play at this pace,” said TV coach Brian Barnett, the school’s long-time junior varsity coach who took over the helm of the program following the departure of Doug Etzler to coach at his alma mater, defending Division IV state champion Crestview in northwest Ohio. “The kids love the system and as they’ve become more comfortable with it our performance has improved in our scrimmages.”
The Vikings (14-9, 11-3 in 2019) lost four starters to graduation from last season’s Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship team, but return senior point guard Riely Weiss 7.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.3 assists and junior wing Camden Primmer, who received some minutes coming off the bench.
“Riely is a three-year varsity starter and the captain of our offense,” Barnett said. “We’re going to look for him to do a good job of handling the basketball and also to use his quickness to score in different ways, including getting to the basket. Defensively, we want to pressure more this season and Riely’s quickness will be a vital asset.
“Camden worked really hard in the offseason and had a phenomenal summer. He has the ability to attack the basket as one of our better cutters and will help us rebound the basketball. He’s also really improved defensively on where he needs to be on the court and how he needs to play.”
Barnett will look to tap heavily into the senior class, which also includes guards Clayton Knox and Cody Kennedy, along with inside-outside players Adam Benschoter, Trey Purdon and Cole Sauerbrun.
“Clayton is going to help us handle the ball some and he has the ability to both hit the outside shot and attack the basket with his quickness,” Barnett said. “He also does a nice job of reading the passing lanes on defense and using his hands to be disruptive. Cody is another guard who brings a lot of energy and will be a spark for us coming off the bench.
“We’re a little undersized, so we’ll look to use our taller players a little differently. Adam is one of our most athletic kids and had a great offseason. It seems like he has springs in his legs and that will help with rebounding and scoring around the basket. Trey and Cole also had a good offseason, and they have the ability to knock down outside shots, so we see them being inside-out guys who can create some matchup problems that we want to exploit.”
The Vikings will look to “mix-and-match” this season and can also turn to juniors Eli Burgett, Garrett Meddock and Bret Wilson and sophomore Peyton Weiler.
Barnett feels the Vikings can go eight deep as they prepare for their season-opener on Dec. 10 when they host Logan, but will look to push that number to nine or 10.
“With the pace we’re playing at this season, we want to use our depth and there will be a lot of minutes for kids coming off the bench,” he said. “We’re going to put the right combination of kids on the floor to give us a chance to beat a team that has a certain strength, whether it be guard play, a good post or a combination of the two.
“Eli Burgett is one of our taller guys at 6-4 and he’s going to get some time. Guys like Garrett and Bret have great hands and then Peyton gives us another guy who can help handle the ball and be a strong defender.”