Generals under new direction

| November 27, 2013

WEST LAFAYETTE – When Jamie McCrea looks into the clear blue sky, the view is limitless. Consequently, that’s where he sees the potential of the Ridgewood High School boys basketball team.

“We’re starting with a blank slate and have laid the foundation,” said McCrea, who replaces Alan Keesee, who resigned at the end of last season. “Right now we’re working on getting better and the little things. I want to be known as a great shooting team and a great defensive team and high energy team.”

One of the early challenges will be replacing the vast majority of its offensive production.

The leading returning scorer is senior Ryan Lowe, who averaged just over six points per game. A 6-foot-3 wing player, he and 6-3 junior Matt Saylor saw extended playing time. Also back are senior guards D.J. Varian and Seth Bergeron.

“Right now Lowe, Bergeron, Saylor and Varian are certain to play varsity minutes,” McCrea said. “I would also expect Matt Leitz to fill another position and after that competition will resolve the rotation.

“We are building around Lowe. He is an inside-outside threat and is our primary ball-handler and best shooter. I think he’ll be comfortable providing offense and Bergeron can get to the rim and his outside shooting is improving. Hopefully he will be able to penetrate and create some opportunities for some other kids.”

Others battling for minutes are 6-3 junior center Jarrett Art, 6-1 junior Gage Young, 6-1 senior Tyler Milligan and 6-0 sophomore Austin Lowery.

“Kids are going to have to earn their spots and I really see our roster as being fluid,” McCrea said. “Kids will be up and down depending on how well they practice and how well they live their life on and off the court. We’re going to find the next four or five and hope to regularly play at least eight but we still have a long way to go.

“We’re going to be aggressive defensively whereas in the past we were more of a contain defense. We want to try to force offenses to do things they don’t want to do and find something that we’re good at. It’s a process but we’re doing what’s need.

“I think the players are excited. They know what I want and what I expect and that has made it somewhat easier. It’s a good group of kids. I have not had to coach effort.”

The Generals tested themselves in the preseason with scrimmages against East Liverpool, Indian Creek and Shenandoah.

McCrea believes the Inter-Valley Conference will be contested among Hiland, Malvern and Garaway but also said that Tuscarawas Central Catholic and Newcomerstown could have an impact.

Non-conference confrontations include Danville, Indian Valley, Bellaire St. John and either Zanesville Rosecrans or Mayville in the Route 40 Classic at West Muskingum High School.

Assisting McCrea are Travis Simmons and Nate Gress. Lester McCurdy coaches the eighth grade while Troy Dolick is the seventh grade coach.

“It’s very exciting Have an opportunity to coach with some good friends,” McCrea said. “Travis brings years of experience and is a huge asset.

Category: High School, Sports

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