CLARION — Taking that next step on the ladder of success is what the Clarion Bobcats basketball team and head coach Jess Quinn are hoping for this. With just enough mix of experienced players and younger players Quinn feels he has the right tools to make that happen.
“When I took over the program a couple years ago, our goal was to win 11 games and make the playoffs,” said Quinn. “We did that, we got to the playoffs, but lost to Coudersport. Last year we wanted to make it to the Clarion University floor and we did that losing to C-L. So, obviously our goal this year is to win on the CUP floor and I feel we have the guys to be able to do that.”
Despite losing four seniors to graduation, the Bobcats do return a number of guys who saw playing time last season which should help. Seniors Cam Craig, Austin Hummell and Zak Bauer all return along with Jacob Selker and Cam Hearst.
Juniors Archer Mills, Drew Wrhen, Gavin Brinkley and Jake Burns TiJon Faulk-Taylor; sophomores Skylar Rhoades, Nick Frederick, and Nate Datko along with Josh Craig and Kyle Porciello; and Cal German and Ethan Burford round out the team as freshmen.
“Anytime you lose four seniors it’s tough,” said Quinn. “We lost the two Anthony boys, Ty Burford who was an inside or outside guy, and Ceventh Lynch-Skunda. That being said, we had a lot of guys who got to play and got to know our style of play last season. Cam Craig is back at point guard. Austin Hummell and Zak Bauer are also back as three of our seniors. We’ll probably go by committee as to who starts game in and game out.
“Cam, Austin, and Zak will be three. Beyond them we have Archer Mills, Skylar Rhoades or Nick Frederick. We have a number of guys battling for that last spot.”
Clarion has 17 players on the roster, but Quinn noted that he had more during the summer practices and a few of those guys decided against coming out.
“Spencer Miller is one guy who decided he had enough with football and he wanted to take a break and get ready for baseball,” said Quinn. “We will definitely miss his speed and athleticism, but I certainly respect his decision to skip basketball. The success of the football team is both a blessing and a curse as on one hand you want to see them have a lot of success, but on the other because they go so long it takes away the time I get to work with them.
“We have a scrimmage against Moniteau and I told them I didn’t want to see them until after that scrimmage as I wanted them to rest and recharge their batteries and come back after our scrimmage.”
Quinn pointed out a number of team strengths.
“Experience with Cam Craig at the point is our biggest strength,” Quinn said. “It is like having a coach on the floor with him because he knows the game so well and he knows what we are trying to accomplish as a team. Austin Hummell is the same way, although he doesn’t have quite the experience that Cam has. Our numbers with the amount of guys we have who can play. We have guys who may only give us 30-second spurts, but those 30-second spurts are going to be important for us in the long run.”
The Bobcats open their season Friday and Saturday at the Keystone Tip-Off Tournament.
Seniors: Cam Craig, Austin Hummell, Zak Bauer, Jacob Selker, Cam Hearst.
Juniors: Archer Mills, Drew Wrhen, Gavin Brinkley, Jake Burns, TiJon Faulk-Taylor.
Sophomores: Skylar Rhoades, Nick Frederick, Josh Craig, Nate Datko, Kyle Porciello.
Freshman: Cal German, Ethan Burford.
8-vs. DuBois at Keystone Tip-Off Tournament
9-at Keystone Tip-Off Tournament
15-at Venango Catholic
27-28-at Punxsutawney Tournament
3-at Forest Area (Tionesta)
19-at Union, 4 JV, 6 varsity
26-at C-L, 6:30 p.m.
6-at North Clarion
— Games begin with JV at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted.