Central Heights ended Wellsville High School boys basketball season last year in the sub-state semifinals with a last-second 40-foot shot.
“After the way we finished the season last year, we are very hungry,” Wellsville coach Thatcher Decker said. “That is all we talked about all summer. That is bad taste in your mouth to have for seven months.”
The hunger coupled with talented and experienced players makes for a good recipe.
“We are senior-led,” Decker said. “We have a lot of seniors that are hungry. They were in here the day after we lost. We are talented. We are excited. The town is excited.”
Wellsville expects to be eight deep, which is a far cry from the kind of depth the Eagles have had the past two seasons.
“We have had a problem being deep the past two years,” Decker said.
These players are tested. Seniors Shamus Kearney, Carter Mann, Luke Meyer and Jared Klamm along with junior point guard Cole Silsby have been through the wars throughout their high school careers.
“They have been in the battles together on the football field, on the baseball field and on the court. This is as close-knit group you will find. We have taken to heart of playing for your teammates this year. It is all about the name on the front.”
Scoring will not be a problem as Kearney, Mann, Meyer and Silsby can light it up offensively.
“How far we go this year will depend on defense,” Decker said. “If we buy in defensively that is what is going to carry us to deeper in the playoffs ... even Hutch. There will be nights we do not shoot it well.
“We have to learn to play fast on one end and slow on the other. One can’t dictate the other. We are a year older. Not many things should scare them.”
Decker expects this group to be tested, especially early. Wellsville plays at West Franklin in the second game of the season and at home versus a good Valley Falls team.
“We have to go to West Franklin the second game of the year,” Decker said. “It is always a heated rivalry. Valley Falls has everybody back. We have some good games scheduled.
“We still have to get over the Central Heights hump. We have been chomping at the bit to get on the floor. Everything will hinge on defense and doing the little things.
“We have to come out and not put pressure on ourselves and play. We are big and athletic.”
Decker said this group will tested mentally.
“People are talking about you,” Decker said. “You will get everybody’s best game every night. We are going to have to be tough and take control. We have to close out games.”
Wellsville opens Dec. 6 at home against Pleasant Ridge.