After burning endless summer hours in the gym striving to improve as a unit, this year's West Muskingum boys varsity team is hoping its hard work translates into production on the court.
"Our team has a better understanding of what we are trying to do," said second-year head coach Bill Crane. "They realize the time and dedication it takes to be successful."
Leading the Tornadoes offseason drive to improve was senior Justin Huey. An inside enforcer, Huey can score off the dribble and make plays on the block. The Tornadoes will look to incorporate his versatility as much as possible.
"(Huey) worked harder than any kid in the offseason," Crane said. "He was always in the gym looking to improve."
During scrimmages, Huey's work has paid off. In the past three exhibition games, Huey has poured in at least 20 points in each effort.
West Muskingum will rely on senior point guard Ian Chambers to control the flow of their motion-based offense and generate transition baskets. This will be Chambers' first year on the Tornadoes varsity roster after transferring from Philo a year ago.
The Tornadoes coaching staff credits Chambers' ability to lead the team on the floor and lockdown defense as his two best qualities.
Returning letterman Colton Pickrell joins Chambers in the backcourt to provide West M with steady mid-range shooting capabilities and strong ball handling.
Playing off the ball is senior guard Brady Jasper, who spent the offseason improving his range and ball-handling abilities. Teaming with Chambers, the two create a strong defensive duo necessary to execute West M's full court pressure.
Adding depth to the backcourt is junior Jaylin Palmer, a floor-stretching shooter who Crane will use as a scoring spark off the bench.
Senior guard Clay Tincher will rotate in to provide even more perimeter shooting for West M's offense.
Bain Schmidt will anchor the Tornadoes low-post defense while providing the team with strong rebounding and the ability to finish around the rim. Forward Trent Scott adds another athletic layer to the Tornadoes frontline.
The Tornadoes have plenty of height to rotate up front with a pair of 6-foot-5 sophomores, Caleb Dupler and Erick Engdahl. Dupler has been working to improve his post game while providing the Tornadoes with rebounding. Engdahl will come off the bench to provide added scoring.