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Basketball

Mt. Pleasant boys basketball ready to contend

| Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016, 8:54 p.m.
Mt. Pleasant's Keith Kalp puts up a shot over West Shamokin's Cason Dewitt during a Section 3-AAA game on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 at Mt. Pleasant High School.
Lori Padilla | For the Daily Courier
Mt. Pleasant's Keith Kalp puts up a shot over West Shamokin's Cason Dewitt during a Section 3-AAA game on Friday, Jan. 29, 2016 at Mt. Pleasant High School.

This is the season Mt. Pleasant boys basketball coach Don Porter has been building toward.

The Vikings had success during Porter's time at the helm, including a playoff appearance last season.

But, according to the third-year coach, this season is primed to be the culmination of years of hard work he and his players invested into the program.

“The big thing about this year is that I coached this group of seniors when I was the junior high coach. This is the group I had, and I went from seventh to eighth grade with them, and then on to ninth and now, varsity,” Porter said.

Seniors Keith Kalp, Jason Beranek and Jake Newill are a formidable trio of guards for Mt. Pleasant. Forward Brandon McCormick returns for his final year, and the Vikings gained a fifth senior in Johnny Yester, who quarterbacked the football team this season.

Given his group's experience and past competitive play, Porter believes the time to take the next step is now.

“Each year, you want to make a little bit of a jump,” Porter said. “As these guys grow from children to young men now the expectations have gotten bigger and bigger each and every year. I know their thought process is just like mine. We're hoping for a section title this year and a deep playoff run. That's what the goal is.”

In order to achieve team goals, Porter has been adapting his philosophy to fit the talent at his disposal. Outside of McCormick and sophomore Alex Kadylak, the Vikings roster is composed mostly of guards.

A lack of height, however, doesn't bother Porter. Instead, he feels Mt. Pleasant will be able to work its unconventional personnel to its advantage.

“Our style of play is going to change this year. We're going to play five guards, with a focus on putting a lot of pressure on offenses and getting out to a lot of up-tempo fast breaks,” Porter said.

“Offensively, we're big on the dribble-drive offense with some side pick-and-roll action. Everything stems off of creating havoc defensively with our trap defense, both in the full- and half-court.”

With plenty of speed at their disposal, the Vikings plan on wearing teams down with relentless defense and a fast transition offense that will allow for easy looks at the basket.

On offense, Porter is also confident his rotation of eight to nine players possess the shooting prowess necessary for a dribble-drive offense.

Beranek, Kalp, Newill and Yester are projected to start, with the fifth position possibly going to newcomer Jacob Johnson.

“He's a freshman that has really just done exceptionally well for us here early in the season. He's going to see quality time and may possibly start for us at either the one or the two-spot,” Porter said.

“Kalp has been our point guard, but sometimes we want to keep him off the ball to create chances for him to score. Jacob has done a real good job in workouts and scrimmages running the point. We will play him off the ball, too, though.”

Kevin Lohman is a freelance writer.

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