By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
On any given night, Bill Kail is confident his Obion County Central boys’ basketball team will be able to compete with anybody on this year’s schedule.
The Rebel coach is more focused on his club competing every given night.
“Bringing it every time out,” Kail answered when asked his goals for OC’s upcoming 2012-13 season that begins Tuesday night with a trip to South Fulton. “We’ve had several games the last few years where we either didn’t start off well and could never recover or we didn’t finish an opponent off at the end when we had the opportunity. We have to have the same effort, the same mentality every night.
“We could’ve had 16 or 18 wins last year, instead of 12. If we come to play every night, our record can be considerably better.”
A senior-laden roster that returns as many as eight players who have started before and 10 seniors in all makes prospects for the coming campaign bright at OCCHS.
Kail, who is 70-100 as he enters his seventh season at the Rebel helm, is admittedly optimistic that Central could have its best season since posting back-to-back winning years in 2008 and 2009.
“I believe this is a good group and a senior bunch that gets along well and plays well together,” the coach said. “I think we’ll be able to play different styles against different opponents, but again, we must be committed to showing up and playing hard for four quarters every time out.
“Of course, we have to take care of the basketball, play good defense and do a good job rebounding — those are the basics of any good basketball team. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. And we are capable.”
The reason for such promise centers around the return of seniors Bryan Morris and Zack King, who combined to lead Obion Central in every individual stat category in last year’s 12-16 season.
Morris, a 6-1 swingman, was the Rebels’ top scorer, No. 2 rebounder and led the team in steals and assists a year ago.
“Bryan has the skill set to be a really good player and part of that skill set is the ability to make others around him better,” Kail said of his standout wingman who averaged better than 15 ppg a year ago. “He can score, sure, but he can create for both himself and his teammates, too. He’ll be hard for us to replace when he’s not on the floor.”
The 6-5 King was Central’s top board man in 2011-12 and was No. 2 on the team scoring list in the middle. Kail is looking for “a consistent effort” from him this season and acknowledged his good shooting touch and other skills in the post should make him a solid offensive threat again.
“We need him to be committed every day,” the coach added. “When he buys into what we’re selling, he can be really good.”
Tyler Mosley (6-4, Soph.) and Thomas Smith (6-2, Sr.) will also see time at the five-spot, the former showing “promise” and the latter called “a battler who plays hard all the time,” by Kail.
The point guard position has been entrusted to Shaw Logan (5-10, Sr.) who saw extensive playing time last season as a part-time starter.
“Shaw is a lot quicker than last year and his confidence is up,” Kail said. “He’s really developing into a role that we need him to excel in.”
Eric Torres (5-10, Sr.) and Joe Wiggins (5-8, Fr.) will also see time at the lead-guard spot. Torres in hopeful of returning to the promising form he showed two years ago as a sophomore, while Wiggins, a Union City transfer, has excellent athleticism, according to the OC skipper.
Another senior, Coleman Dunn (5-10) is penciled in at the shooting guard position with classmate Mike Klein (6-1) waiting in the wings. Both are good shooters from the perimeter, Dunn especially deadly “when he’s on,” Kail says. Klein is looking to bounce back from an injury-plagued junior campaign and looking “to catch up to the speed of the game,” the coach insisted.
Kail is hopeful that Brett Scillion (6-4, Sr.) can quickly recover from a wrist injury and illness that has robbed him of a bulk of preseason practice time to fill the power forward starting job. Strong and a good rebounder with a nice touch from 12 feet, Scillion could be an asset when healthy.
Korben Hagan (6-3, Jr.), described by his coach as a “hustler who’s always around the ball” provides depth at the position.
“We’ll play some different combinations and different styles, depending on our opponents and what styles they like to play,” Kail added.
“This group reminds me a lot of the two we had back in 2008 and 2009. There are a lot of the same components with this team and those two. They’ve sorta grown up playing together and have gained a lot of experience through that. I’m hopeful that will help us handle a lot of the little things better than we have in the past.”
Kail touted Covington as being “loaded,” and said Westview should also be “very good.”
“And I really think we have a chance to finish anywhere from 2-6. Ripley, Haywood and Dyersburg are all athletic, too, and Crockett County might be as athletic as they’ve been in a long time.”
OCCHS will play in a preseason jamboree Saturday at Dyersburg against Trinity Christian Academy — the girls playing at 5:45 and the boys at 6:30 p.m.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 11.9.12