By Brad Morris
Cody Carpenter has had to refrain from running his style of offense in his first three seasons at Circleville in an attempt to give his team the best chance to compete and win.
That’s not the case this season.
“This is the deepest team that I’ve had in my time here at Circleville and it’s going to allow us to do some things differently this season,” Carpenter said. “We’re going to continue and be a hard-nosed defensive team, but we can get away from trying to slow down the game on offense and get out and run in transition a lot more than we have in the past, which is the style of offense that I prefer to run and is probably more interesting to the fans in the stands.
“This is also the tallest team that I’ve had here at Circleville with having some players between 6-3 and 6-5. We’ve struggled rebounding in the past and that should be an area where we do a lot better at this season, along with getting some putback baskets.”
Briley Cramer, a 6-foot-3 junior guard who earned special mention all-district honors averaging 10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds last season, headlines returnees for the Tigers.
“Briley has really developed his body in the weight room and is a lot stronger and more mature this season,” Carpenter said. “He’s become a hard-nosed physical player and is playing with a lot of confidence. He is poised to have a pretty strong junior season.”
The Tigers (7-16, 3-11 in 2021-22) will look to utilize four seniors this season in guards Ian Warden (6.8 points), Matt Bradley, Nolan West and forward Parker Kidwell.
“Ian has played the last 2-2.5 years at the varsity level, and he’s a very athletic kid who has a good mid-range game that has become lost in basketball today,” Carpenter said. “Matt is a very quick, hard-nosed guard and one of our best perimeter defenders. He has accepted his role and can be a very big spark with his energy.
“Nolan might be the most improved player on the team. He has the ability to lead us in points with his ability to shoot the basketball and can now get to the rim. Parker is another hard-nosed defensive player who is going to be a backbone to our team with his toughness.”
Circleville will also look to mix in 6-4 junior Slater Search.
“Slater isn’t a flashy player, but he’s really solid with positioning his body on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court to utilize his size and ability,” Carpenter said. “He’s a player who can lead us in rebounds, be a tough defender inside and he’s a leader on the floor, in the locker room and classroom.”
Carpenter is excited about the ability that 5-10 freshman Joe Wray brings at point guard.
“Joe is one of the better kids at his age that I’ve coached. He is so calm with the basketball, doesn’t get out of control and can handle pressure well,” he said. “He sees the floor well and can create offense in ways that you can’t coach. Joe also has the ability to score at every level.”
The Tigers will also look to utilize 6-2 junior forward Preston Hulse and six-foot sophomore guard Drew Thornsley.
“Preston has the ability to be one of the top scorers in the league this season,” Carpenter said. “He also has really worked hard on the defensive end to become better and stronger. After floating between JV and varsity in his first two seasons, I believe he has the potential to have a breakout season.
“Drew is a physical, tough, athletic kid and matches the style that we want to play this season. He can defend well on the perimeter, rebound and can also score some in transition.”
Carpenter would like to see the Tigers take a big step forward competitively this season.
“We have the potential to contend for the Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship, to win a sectional and hopefully go farther in the tournament,” he said. “I really like the mix of guys that we have this season and believe we have a high ceiling if we put things together the way we are capable of doing.”
No. Player Grade Ht. Pos.
1 Preston Hulse 11 6-2 G
2 Nolan West 12 5-11 G
3 Matt Bradley 12 5-11 G
4 Briley Cramer 11 6-3 G
5 Joe Wray 9 5-10 G
10 Kraig Foster 11 5-9 G
11 Parker Kidwell 12 6-1 F
12 Drew Thornsley 10 6-0 G
20 Ian Warden 12 6-0 G
21 Slater Search 11 6-4 C
23 Riley Jenkins 9 6-3 C
24 Ed Kirky 9 6-5 F
Coach: Cody Carpenter
Assistant coaches: Joe Arndt, Tyler Cassidy, Bill Search
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