STRATTANVILLE — The Clarion-Limestone Lions basketball team has had a lot of success in recent years in winning four Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference titles.
However, for 12th-year head coach Joe Ferguson this year could be one of his most challenging yet as last year’s KSAC-North Division champion and conference runner-up Lions return just four experienced players on their 17 player roster.
“We certainly have a lack of depth which could be a bit of a concern at least early on in the season,” said Ferguson. “We’re hoping that as the season goes along that we’ll be able to develop some of those other guys.”
The four returning players include senior Christian Smith (9.9 ppg.), juniors Ian Callen (11.6 ppg.) and Julian Laugand (4.3 ppg.), and sophomore Deion Deas (10.2 ppg.).
“We have four guys who saw significant playing time last year so those are going to be our core players,” said Ferguson. “I would say those will most likely be four of our starters. As for the fifth starter we have a few guys who are battling for that spot in freshman Hayden Callen, sophomore Curvin Goheen, seniors Kyle Kerle, Nick Cyphert and Ian Hawthorn, and junior Ayden Wiles, who missed last season due to injury could also see some time.
“So far, I’ve been pretty happy with what I’m seeing in practices, although we weren’t able to have a summer program so we are a little behind where we should be if we would have been able to have a summer program. Overall, the kids have been working very hard.”
The Lions lost 1,000-point scoring big man Dan Callen along with Chris Callen-Deal, Mac Park and Sam Leadbetter to graduation, so since they won’t have a true big man that they’ve had in the past, the philosophy may change a bit this season.
“Without a true big man, things are going to be a little different,” said Ferguson. “We are going to need the guys to play team basketball and attack the boards hard because without that size we are going to have to be more aggressive on the boards. Defense and rebounding will be the biggest keys for us because I think we should be fine on the offensive end of the floor. We will certainly have to adjust some things due to our lack of depth. We may have to play more zone than we have in the past.
“I feel our team speed is going to be our biggest strength,” added Ferguson. “I do feel optimistic about the season, although we could start out a little slow and we’ll have to work harder this season for sure.”
C-L opens at the Kiser Classic in Grove City starting Friday against Slippery Rock with Saturday’s game already scheduled against Grove City.
Seniors: Christian Smith, Kyle Kerle, Nick Cyphert, Ian Hawthorn, Hercules Donahue, Ty Blake, Braden Peters.
Juniors: Ian Callen, Julian Laugand, Ayden Wiles, Trenton Keighley, Drew Beichner.
Sophomores: Deion Deas, Curvin Goheen, Kaden Park, Mitch Knepp.
Freshman: Hayden Callen.
8-vs. Slippery Rock, at Kiser Classic
9-at Grove City, Kiser Classic
20-at North Clarion
21-at Venango Catholic
28-29-at West Shamokin Tournament
5-at Redbank Valley
12-at Karns City
31-at Forest Area
— Home games begin with JV at 6:30 and away games start with JV at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted.