Redbank Valley uses frustration as fuel
There's no desire among the players on Redbank Valley's boys basketball team to ignore last season's one-win record.
No, the Bulldogs took a long, hard look at that 1-21 campaign, which included an 0-10 showing in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference's South Division.
“You don't forget about last year,” said sophomore guard Devin Shumaker, one of three starters with varsity experience.
“For me and my grade, we have a good class, and we're not used to getting swamped by 30 in every game.”
The Bulldogs hit rock bottom last season. Now is the time for them to reverse course and ascend the KSAC standings.
“We've been mad about last year,” sophomore guard Jake Dougherty said, “and we're just playing with that chip on our shoulder.”
Shumaker and Dougherty lead an ambitious group of underclassmen who serve as Redbank Valley's core. Dougherty averaged a team-high 10.4 points per game last season, and Shumaker made a few starts in the backcourt.
Top options at the third guard spot are senior Jonah Sovik and junior Quentin Brocious.
Shumaker will serve as the point guard.
“I'm small, so that's my biggest thing,” he said. “The other guys are bigger and stronger, so I need to play with my mind and think faster to keep up with them.”
Senior Dustin Price and sophomore Zach Westover will play in the paint, although they also will drift outside for 3-point chances.
The Bulldogs' focus is improving their defense, which allowed 61 points per game last season. Coach Greg Bean said the team, traditionally man-to-man, might dabble with zone schemes this season. The players said the top priority is to crank up the intensity no matter the strategy.
“We've just gone harder in practice,” Price said. “The difference from last year is unbelievable. Intensity is our key right now.”
Because the football team failed to make the District 9 playoffs this fall, the basketball team had a couple of extra weeks of preparation.
“This year, it's been kind of different,” Bean said. “Everybody here seems to want to be that group that changes things around here.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.