The Cougars improved last season by six victories and the momentum is continuing behind a strong group of seniors looking to venture past the section semifinals hovering over the ground to the state tournament.
East Hardy Boys Basketball has a dynamic group of seniors ready to keep the team on track to success to build on the 12-12 record from a year ago include returning starters Brett Tharp, Jesse Dove, Aden Funkhouser and Drew Kelican in addition to Nick Miller and Casey Connelley.
East Hardy Coach Chris Hahn enters his 11th season at the helm and expects the Cougars to become better one day at a time to reach the potential that is there along with assistant coach and brother Joey Hahn.
“Our goal is to get better each day, by the end of the season be ready to make a push to reach Charleston. We need to have better communication and maintain our focus for the entire game,” East Hardy Coach Chris Hahn remarked.[private]
The inside presence of Miller as power forward and Connelley at center will help keep the paint clear and collect rebounds.
Brett Tharp was selected to the Class A All-State second team last seasoned led East Hardy in scoring and has been one of the most electrifying players on both sides of the ball denying shots, rebounding, stealing the ball and scoring from anywhere on the floor.
Post player Drew Kelican and shooting guard Aden Funkhouser have proven to be excellent defenders and solid scores with a long distance range.
The Cougars will look to Jesse Dove as the primary ball handler as the point guard and rely on his ability to create plays whether driving to the basket or making an assist to stopping plays on defense.
East Hardy has a strong lineup of talent on the bench including juniors Cole Swanson (SF), Chance Dove (G), Adam Larson (SG) and sophomore Adam Baker (C).
Any of these players could start down the road, but could be crucial coming off the bench adding valuable minutes and points.
The Cougars JV squad includes sophomores Ryan Cain, Colten Spaid, Preston Dove, Seth Smith and freshmen Andrew Tharp, Christian Dove, Brayden Ritchie, Riley Mongold, Billy Smith, James McDonald and Bryce Tharp.
East Hardy opens the season at home against Paw Paw tonight and visits Moorefield next Friday.
The Cougars will play in the Southern Ram Christmas Tournament in Oakland, Md. on December 28-29 with the first opponent being McDonough, Md. at 6:15.
East Hardy will play in the West Virginia Hometown Invitational Tournament once again.
The Cougars are gearing up to carry the momentum of reaching the state football semifinals into hardwood success and hopefully end the state tournament drought dating back to 1997.
Coach Hahn took time to discuss his varsity players and answer preview questions:
Talk about each varsity player and what they contribute to the team:
Jesse Dove, PG and shooting G, great ball handler, I expect him to be a leader on the floor and a good defender he will need to score a little more this year than last year, he’s a lot stronger and more confident.
Aiden Funkhouser, Shooting Guard, plays hard, he is a very intelligent kid thinks about what should be happening in the play and is very athletic. He will have to get some of the rebounds we will miss from last years players graduating.
Drew Kelican, good scorer, willing to defend in the post and has great ability to position himself. He understands angles very well and I expect him to be a big contributor on offence.
Brett Tharp, SF 1st team all-state kind of player will have to defend the best player, will be expected to get most of the points and rebounds with his athleticism. He is one of the few players who can play above the rim and has a real instinct for where the ball is going to be and can go get it.
Nick Miller, PF big strong kid that can shoot a little bit. He does a great job of using his power in the paint to get the ball, his focus this year will be on scoring after he gets it close in the paint.
Casey Connelly, C another big strong kid had a terrific summer played very hard and has worked hard to get himself in position to possibly start and play some big minutes for us this year.
Cole Swanson, SF, G long athletic player with good mid-range game. Good defender and has quick feet.
Chance Dove, G quick as a cat good defender plays very hard. Good shot from the perimeter.
Adam Larson SG, another tall guard plays well with the ball and can get to the rim quickly. Plays very aggressive and can score a lot of points in a hurry.
Adam Baker C, big, tall and strong. Has a nice soft shot plays taller than he really is. When he plays aggressive he is hard to stop.
How important is controlling the tempo of the game? We like to get up and down, but we can play many styles it’s important to dictate the game because the aggressive team usually wins so I’m more worried about attacking rather than sitting back and being attacked.
What can you do to change the tempo?
Force a turnover, switch defenses up, get people moving.
After you score, how crucial is it to be in the right spots defensively on the floor? Very
What is the best way to prevent breakaways? Find the ball and have a defender make him change directions we don’t want him having a straight line to the basket.
How important is rebounding, boxing out and second chance shots? Most teams shoot poorly when they are in their set offense so it’s very important to position yourself for a chance at a missed shot.
Is it best to wait to develop a play on offense or to strike immediately with an open look? As a coach I’m an opportunist if it’s there we take it if not the best defense is having the ball in your hands because then the other team can’t score.
Do you prefer shots in the paint or perimeter range jumpers? Closer is better but you have to have balance else teams will pack the paint and dare you to shoot, if you can’t extend the defense you will probably have a tough night scoring.
How accurate is your perimeter shooting? I’ll find out as soon as the kids get into practice.
How much do you stress dribbling and ball control? We do drills every day including tournament time to improve our ball control and not let that be a weakness for us.
Do you feel players should be constantly moving on the floor to create opportunities to score? Depends on the set you are trying to run we like to create a lot of movement, so the help defense is constantly having to move and adjust their responsibility but spacing the floor is as important as moving without the ball.
How important is it to set picks and to take charges in a game? If you don’t pick or screen you can’t score. If you can take a charge or two a game, you limit the other team’s possessions and it also means you are doing a good job being in the correct spot on defense which will lead to a lot of missed shots throughout the game.
Should a player wait to draw multiple defenders before making a pass? Depends of the situation you don’t want to be able to get trapped drawing multiple defenders, but you do want to make sure the player you are passing to is open.
Does team chemistry play a key role in the development of the game’s flow and result? Absolutely, if you don’t have good team chemistry and unselfish play then you won’t be as successful as you should be otherwise. You must trust who you are playing with on defense as well as offense.
How important is it to have a deep bench? It is defiantly nice to have quality depth makes practice a lot more productive and if someone is in foul trouble it’s doesn’t force you to hold the ball and kill the clock for a time trying to shorten the game. It also gives you more options style wise you can get up if you have a few more horses to put in the game.
Are there any new teams on the schedule and how do you feel about the competition? We play South Harrison who is probably going to join the conference as a full member in the next year which is exciting they have some pretty good teams out there in Lost Creek and as good as their football team was this year I expect their basketball team to be loaded again as well. We play in the Snowball Classic again in Oakland with Southern, Thomas Jefferson PA, Woodland Hills PA, Walt Whitman MD, Winter Mills. I’m not sure yet who we will play yet but it is pretty exciting playing different styles that the different teams bring. We are sure to be tested before the Holiday break. We also play Berkeley Springs and Frankfort as well as a playing in the WVHIT tournament. I’m a big fan of broadening your schedule to see some new teams and play some different faces. It makes the games against your rivals a lot more important and honestly, I was tired of playing the same teams five times a year. It’s a challenging schedule so we better show up every night to play but I think it will prepare us well for the postseason.[/private]