MAN — The Man High School boys’ basketball team will have a challenge this year in trying to duplicate last year’s success.
The Hillbillies made it to the Class A state tournament and finished with a 14-12 record, led by its dynamic backcourt duo of Jordan Simpson and Seth Hainer.
Simpson, who became Man’s all-time leading scorer, is gone however, as he has been lost to graduation. Hainer has also graduated, along with four other seniors — Shane Browning, Coty Crum, Kaleb Spurlock and Josh Booth, a 6-foot-4 center.
Last year, Man routed Van 94-38 in the sectional tourney before falling 62-56 to Charleston Catholic in the sectional finals. A 64-45 win at Huntington St. Joe secured the Billies’ trip to the state tourney where Man lost again to the Charleston Catholic Irish, 62-57 at the Charleston Civic Center in the first round of the Class A state tourney.
The youthful Billies, coached by Harvey Arms, are scheduled to open the 2012-13 basketball season on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at River View.
Arms is back for his fourth season as head coach of the Billies. This marks his second go-around after a short two-year stint by former head coach Jimmy Justice.
The bar was raised high by the Billies last season and it will be difficult to match as Man will most likely be going through a rebuilding year.
With all five starters from last year lost, a fresh five will have to step up quickly for the Billies this season.
The only returning player with much experience is junior Cayce Mullins. Seniors Clay Brumfield and Chris Justice and sophomore Gage Harvey saw some limited varsity time last year but will have to step forward this season.
With all of the inexperience one word describes the 2012-13 version of the Man High School basketball team.
That word is young.
The Billies may start as many as three freshmen this season to go along with a sophomore and a junior.
Man got its first preseason test last week against River View.
“We played well,” Arms said. “We hit the boards and passed the ball well. We hurried and threw the ball away but that happens in the first scrimmage. Overall I was pleased. The kids have been working hard playing together. We’re young but we have a very good group of freshmen who came over. They have good hearts and are playing hard.”
Freshman John Thomas Keffer is expected to play point guard for Man. The 5-11 Keffer was the freshman quarterback for Arms’ Man football team this past fall.
Arms said Keffer has good shooting range, can take the ball to the basket and has good size for a point guard. Keffer is also a good assist leader.
Justice, a 5-8 guard, may also start. He started in the scrimmage with River View and Arms said he’s a good hustler and shoots from the outside very well despite being smallish.
Kenny Joe Adkins (5-11), another freshman, will also be pressing for playing time.
“He’s the fastest player on the team and is a very good athlete,” Arms said.
Down in the post is Mullins, a 6-2 junior. Arms said he’s also a good shooter and can also hit the glass hard and has shot blocking capabilities.
Freshman forward Jake Adkins (6-2) will also be needed. Adkins brings a big body down low and will be counted on highly to rebound.
The center position seems to be nailed down by Harvey, a 6-3 sophomore.
“He rebounds well, blocks shots and has a soft touch on the ball,” Arms said. “We must rely on these three guys to get the rebounds for us.”
Freshmen Gabby Brown and sophomore Neal Mullins are a pair of other post men who are also pressing for playing time.
Another player hoping to see significant playing time is Brumfield, a senior.
“Brumfield is a very good 3-point shooter and hustler,” Arms said.
Two more freshmen — Erik Files and Mikle Scott Rowe — round out the varsity roster.
Man has a good number of players out this year and should have a very competitive JV team with Austin Cook, Neal Mullins, Matthew Bragg, Tyler Dunigan, Alex Lusk, Brandon Cook, Josh Adkins, Austin Elkins and Mitchell Morris making up the bulk of the team.
After taking on River View in Tuesday’s opener, Man then is scheduled to host Huntington St. Joe on Dec. 14 in the home opener before going to Mount View on Dec. 18 and hosting Fayetteville on Dec. 22.
The Billies then are set to take part in the annual Bob Runyon Memorial Tournament Dec. 28-29 at Chapmanville Regional High School. Man is matched up against host Chapmanville on Dec. 28 and will take on either Mount View or Pikeview in the championship or consolation game on Dec. 29. Chapmanville is led by first-year head coach Allan Hatcher, Logan High School coach Mark Hatcher’s father.
Man is scheduled to take on county rival Chapmanville three times this year.
In addition to the tourney game at Chapmanville, the Billies are slated to host the Tigers on Jan. 2, 2013 and go to Chapmanville in the regular season finale on Feb. 19.
Another highlight to Man’s schedule this season is a home-and-home series against Tug Valley, last year’s Class AA state champions, which have moved down to Single-A status this season and will play in Man’s section. The Hillbillies host the Panthers on Jan. 9 and are set to play Tug Valley on Jan. 26 in Naugatuck.
The Billies and Panthers did not play each other last season. Tug Valley is led by its returning three guards Mikey Newsome, Aaron Muncy and Austin Brewer. Mason Pack, the Panthers’ 6-9 center, has been lost to graduation.
Other teams in Man’s section are Greater Beckley Christian, Montcalm, Sherman and Van.
Man will also have a home-and-home series against Class AA Westside. The Billies play the Renegades on the road on Jan. 8 and host Westside one week later on Jan. 15. Man lost twice to Westside last year in 70-54 and 78-66 setbacks.
Added to Man’s schedule this season is a home-and-home series against Greater Beckley Christian.
The Billies have two-game sets this year against Huntington St. Joe, Class AA teams Mount View and River View and Single-A Fayetteville. Man split with Mount View last season and swept River View.
2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Schedule
Dec. 11: at River View, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: Huntington St. Joe, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 18: at Mount View, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 22: Fayetteville, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28: at Chapmanville (Bob Runyon Memorial Tournament at Chapmanville), 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 29: vs. Mount View or Pikeview (Bob Runyon Memorial Tournament at Chapmanville), TBA.
Jan. 2: Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 4: at Huntington St. Joe, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5: at Fayetteville, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: at Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9: Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15: Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 18: at Greater Beckley Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: River View, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25: Greater Beckley Christian, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15: Mount View, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 19: at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Roster
No. NAME HT. CL.
10 John Thomas Keffer 5-11 Fr.
12 Chris Justice 5-8 Sr.
14 Austin Moore 6-0 Sr.
20 Clay Brumfield 5-11 Sr.
22 Marquel Brown 5-10 Fr.
24 Kenny Joe Adkins 5-11 Fr.
30 Jake Adkins 6-2 Fr.
32 Caycee Mullins 6-2 Jr.
34 Erik Files 5-10 Fr.
40 Mikle Scott Rowe 6-0 Soph.
42 Gage Harvey 6-0 Jr.
50 Neal Mullins 5-11 Soph.
HEAD COACH: Harvey Arms
ASSISTANTS: Bill Lusk, Chris Marcus
STATISTICIAN: Eddie Tackett