NEW BETHLEHEM — Less turnovers = more wins. That’s a somewhat valid equation for the Redbank Valley Bulldogs basketball team going into the season.
Head coach Emmanuel Marshall heads into his third season with the Bulldogs knowing that the bevy of turnovers was a huge part of last year’s 3-19 season. With six letterwinners back and a hard-working offseason, he hopes that’s the case.
“We’re in the season now and still doing fundamental skill drills,” said Marshall, whose team opens their own tip-off tournament with Mercer on Friday. “We averaged something like 27 turnovers and you can’t win ball games like that, so if we can cut that down to 15 or less, we’re going to be highly competitive. We’re going to keep working and trying to improve our skill.”
Senior Brock Barrett and juniors Nick Smith, Logan Wadding, Keaton Kahle and Tanner Kerle are the returning letterwinners. Smith (7.6 ppg.), Barrett (7.4) and Kahle (7 ppg.) were the team’s top three scorers.
That’ll form the core of the team’s playing rotation, but Kahle and Kerle will miss the first couple of weeks of the season due to injuries.
When healthy, the 6-foot-2 Kahle will be the point guard with Smith at shooting guard. Kerle will start at small forward when he’s back with the 6-1 Barrett at power forward. Wadding, at 6-2, is the center. Senior guards Cyle Bowser and Brandon Young, who will likely start in place of the injured Kahle and Kerle, give the Bulldogs depth off the bench as well as 6-4 sophomore Ethan Hetrick.
Also looking for varsity time are two sophomores, guard Declan Fricko and 6-3 forward Ethan Wadding.
“Nick presents that threat outside so we can play inside-out. Brock and Logan and Ethan in the post area, they’ll get buckets. But we have to score in the post to suck the defense in and kick it outside,” Marshall said. “Keaton has improved his 3-point shot and Cyle, Brandon and Tanner can shoot it too. We’re going to try to get some touches inside and try to hit from outside.”
Marshall has some athletes and size. He just needs the production on the court, and less turnovers.
“We have the athletes. We just need to bring it together, play together and build team chemistry and just improve our skills,” he said. “If we cut our turnovers in half, we win a lot of games. It’s hard to win with over 20 turnovers. You can’t win.”
Marshall’s coaching staff includes Dan Ion and Lynn Hetrick.
“They’re working harder and putting time in the gym,” Marshall said of his squad. “I’m satisfied with where we are as a program. This year should be a year we get some wins and we’ll just keep building from there.”
Seniors: Brandon Young, Cyle Bowser, Brock Barrett.
Juniors: Nick Smith, Logan Wadding, Bryce Morgan, Keaton Kahle, Tanner Kerle.
Sophomores: Declan Fricko, Anthony Baileys, Jordan Hicks, Ethan Wadding, Sam Hetrick.
Freshman: Landon Pence.
8-9-Host Tip-Off Tournament
12-at Karns City
15-at Union, 4 JV, 7:30 varsity
20-A-C Valley, 6 varsity, 7:30 JV
27-28-at North Clarion Holiday Tournament
10-at Forest Area (Marienville), 4:30 JV, 7:30 varsity
17-at Clarion, 4:30 JV, 7:30 varsity
23-at North Clarion
2-at A-C Valley, 4:30 JV, 7:30 varsity
— Varsity begins after junior varsity, which begins at 6 p.m. unless otherwise noted. Varsity doubleheaders have boys and girls varsity going in some order. JV and Varsity starting times listed. Home doubleheaders will use auxiliary gym for JV games.