Boys: When the Hidden Valley boys team hits the court on Wednesday, Dec 1 at Franklin County, they will be returning a core group of players after losing only one starter off of last year’s 8-13 team. The Titans have advanced as far as the state AA semifinals on several occasions in the past.
Sporting the blue and gold for the Titans this season are Carter Wright (Sr, 6-2, G/F), Riley Worrell (Sr, 6-1, G), Dee Fletcher (Jr, 6-2 G/F), Austin Myers (Sr, 5-8, G), Daniel Rowe (Jr, 6-1, G), Griffin Brand (Sr, 5-10, G), Evan Dermott (Sr, 5-10, G), Malik Williams (Jr, 6-2, G), Dylan Hodson (So, 6-0, G), Will Pilat (Jr, 6-5, F/C), Taylor Walker (Sr, 6-3, G), Stephen Tirico (Sr, 5-11, F), Thomas Nave (Jr, 6-3, F), Austin Beecher (Jr, C, 6-4) and Kevin Draught (Sr, 6-3, C).
“We have a core group of returners this year after only losing one starter from last year’s team,” said head coach Troy Wells. “I hope the experience pays off and we can find some success with them.”
Wells sees his probable starters as Worrell, Walker, Wright, Draught and Beecher, whose sister Kylee was a star for the Titans. (Their father is former Virginia Tech player Bobby Beecher; Kylee plays for Liberty University now.)
“We only have one sophomore this season [Hodson], but he could be a very good player if he keeps working hard,” added Wells. “Our juniors that should have a big impact are Beecher, Fletcher and Rowe.” Shooting and experience will be a strength, but defense and rebounding will be a weakness.
“We have a good group of shooters, but we are still looking for some people to step up defensively and on the boards,” said Wells. “We do not have a great deal of size, so being physical is very important for us this season.”
As for the top games this season, Wells, a state championship coach elsewhere, notes: “Salem will factor into the district race a great deal and Cave Spring [two-time defending state champs] is always a tough game because of the rivalry between the schools. I’m looking forward to this season and seeing if our guys can step up and compete for some titles.”
Girls: with three returning starters off of last year’s second place team, the Hidden Valley girls basketball team is looking to contend for the River Ridge District title and another trip to the regionals this season. “Even though we graduated five seniors that had a lot of playing time we still have high expectations for this season,” said coach Randy Bush.
Returning starters for the Titans, who finished 17-8 last season include junior guards Tyler Evans (5-8) and Kelsey Crotty (5-5), along with senior point Elizabeth Burke (5-9).
“Kelsey has quickness and plays a tough defense, while Tyler has speed and excellent ball skills and is a great shooter and Elizabeth has patience and is tough under the basket,’ added Bush.
Other Titans include Kelly King (So, 5-4, G), Karcy Grove (Sr, 5-4, G), Nikki Elechi (Sr, 5-4, P), Monica Bennett (Sr, 5-3, G), Ariel Winn (Jr, 6-0, P), Ashleigh Torres (Jr, 5-6, G), Grace Whiteside (So, 6-2, P) and Lynsey Barker (So, 5-5, G).
As for Hidden Valley’s strengths, you can look for its quickness, while being a young team may be a weakness, at least early on.
Bush sees his top games this season as those with nearby rival Cave Spring, Salem and Pulaski County. “This group has a lot of heart and drive to win,” said Bush.
“With our quickness on the court and tough defense, we hope to have a successful season.” The Hidden Valley girls open their season on Wednesday, Dec. 1, when they host Franklin County with a 7:30 p.m. tip off.