By Brad Morris
WILLIAMSPORT — Over his first three seasons of coaching the Westfall Mustangs, Christian Meister has worked to build a foundation based on accountability and playing solid defense.
Meister believes he is entering his fourth season with the ingredients necessary to start cutting down some nets.
“Our kids have learned the way we want them to compete on the floor over the last few seasons, to be accountable and to play solid team defense,” he said. “I’ve been pleased with the progress we have made there, but we had some things holding us back from maximizing our success, like a lack of height. We had one of the smaller teams in our conference, and that’s something you can’t coach.
“This is the first time where I feel like we have all the ingredients. We have solid height for our division in the post to rebound and score around the basket, we have guards who can knock down shots and get to the basket and we still have that solid foundation. This is the season where I believe we really have the potential to cut down some nets and win the Scioto Valley Conference, a sectional and possibly a district championship if everything comes together.”
Meister also knows for everything to come together and to realize those big goals, the Mustangs (11-10, 8-6 in 2021-22) still need to improve on their consistency.
“Over the last couple of seasons, we’ve beat the top teams in our conference on a Friday or Saturday and then turn around and lose to a team we should beat a couple of days later,” he said. “I’m really excited about the potential this team has, but one improvement we need to make this season is to be consistent in our approach, attitude and play every time we take the court.”
Senior Casey Cline, a four-year starter who earned second-team all-district honors by averaging 14.1 points and 5.4 rebounds last season, returns to lead the back court.
“Casey is a leader for us, especially in the big moments in the game and he backs that up by how he plays,” Meister said. “Everyone knows that Casey is a scorer, but he’s also a good on-ball defender. He can do a lot of different things for us on the floor, and I think he is going to have a really big senior season.
Cline will be joined in the back court by senior point guard Blaec Bugher and junior guard Brody Clark.
“Blaec probably would have started for a lot of teams last season, but we had a senior point in Ashton Nunemaker. Blaec is going to be our primary ball-handler,” Meister said. “Blaec is very skilled, has great vision and we expect him to be a calming force for us and create offense. He’s a smart Xs and Os kid.
“Brody is an off-guard who plays with incredible effort, and I believe he has the ability to have a monster junior year. He can be one of our two primary scorers, along with Casey, because of his motor and energy. He is a no quit kid.”
Meister is excited to not only have some seize, but depth at forward and in the post with 6-4 senior Seth Gifford and 6-4 juniors Henry Barnes and Jeremiah Layton.
“Seth has turned into one of our leaders, not just with his words but also with his actions and how he leads with his work ethic,” Meister said. “Seth isn’t going to get a ton of newspaper clippings, but what he does is incredibly valuable with rebounding, setting screens and getting some putback baskets. He was the difference in our performance between our first to second scrimmage.
“Henry is going to be more of a wing/forward hybrid position like we had Trevor Wolfe in last year. He can step out and shoot the ball and post up when he has an advantage. Jeremiah is a 1980s style post player who likes to slow it down, use his strength and finish around the basket.”
The Mustangs will look to utilize senior Isaiah Browning, junior Brydan Gall and sophomore Brenden Lowe off the bench.
“Isaiah has the ability to knock down some shots and give us a spark,” Meister said. “Brydan has had a great preseason and brings some physicality and toughness that we want to utilize. Brenden is a skilled sophomore that we want to bring along in our rotation and utilize his abilities.”
The Mustangs open the season on Nov. 23 against Amanda-Clearcreek in the Zane Trace Tip-Off Classic.
No. Player Grade Ht.
0 Brody Clark 11 6-0
1 Casey Cline 12 6-0
2 Blaec Bugher 12 5-10
3 Jaden Towler 10 6-0
5 Brydan Gall 11 6-1
11 Brenden Lowe 10 5-9
13 Isaiah Browning 12 6-0
24 Henry Barnes 11 6-4
32 Seth Gifford 12 6-4
50 Jeremiah Layton 11 6-4
Coach: Christian Meister
Assistant coaches: DJ Malone, Tae Spell, Corey Wyman, Hayden Mink, Todd Rhymer
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