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Patriot Basketball Preview
Patriot Basketball Preview

   The Allen County-Scottsville Patriots will enter the 44th campaign in school history with several questions---questions that time will answer as the season unfolds over the next three months. One question that will be pondered from game one, how will the Patriots respond to first year coach Nick Chaykowsky?

   The short answer is with a strong work ethic in the gym and a desire to improve daily.

   “The team is working hard in practice,” Coach Chaykowsky said. “They are getting along and showing signs of improvement each day. The fans should see kids playing basketball with great effort and having fun. They will represent our school with class.”

   Chaykowsky was tabbed as Lex Lindsey’s replacement last springs. Lindsey guided the Patriots to 10 wins in 29 games. The season was labeled as a success, given the fact that Lindsey started the season without a leftover starter from the 2015-16 team that won six games. The ten wins, included upset wins over several opponents improved the confidence of a young team, provided valuable experience to several Patriots that return this year, and set the stage for hopes of a winning 2017-18 season---an accomplishment that would mark the first season above the 500 mark since 2009-10. The Paytriots are also seeking a return to the Region 4 tournament for the first time since 2013.  

    Like Lindsey last year, Chaykowsky brings a vault of coaching experience to the table. High school stops in Florida, Georgia, and Kentucky schools Ballard Memorial and Union County has left the new coach with a 211-208 worksheet. His more successful stop came at McEachern High School in Georgia where he compiled a 46-12 record in two seasons---leading his team to a regional championship and earning Coach of the Year honors. Add in 12 years of experience as an assistant at the small college level---helping schools to a record of 305-126---Chaykowsky had been a part of teams that have gone 574-368 in 30 years of sideline experience at multiple levels.

   The new coach inherits a team with rising stars and gifted athletes. Four seniors---Marcus Carter, Sean Carter, Sam Clarke, and Phillip Kinslow---are on the roster with each player capable of bringing something to the table.    

   “Each of our four seniors have different qualities that will help the team,” Chaykowsky pointed out.

   Carter emerged as one of AC-S’s principal weapons last year. The 6’4” forward averaged nine points and seven rebounds as a starter in 28 of the team’s 29 games. Carter led the Patriots in scoring three times last winter and was the leading rebounder in 17 times. Carter shot 51% from the floor (100/196). Carter scored a career-high 19 points against Glasgow and grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds in action against Edmonson County. Additionally, Carter had four double-doubles, reached double figures in scoring 13 times, and recorded 10 or more rebounds five times. The senior averaged just over 27 minutes per game.

 Sam Clarke is the second most experienced senior on the floor. Clarke is a 6’2” guard who can run the team’s floor game or knock down the outside shot. Last year, Clarke played in 29 games and started five times. He recorded a career-high 11 points verses Warren East, notched a career-best four rebounds verses Cumberland County, Elizabethtown, and Monroe County and dished out career-high three assists verses Barren County. Clarke averaged 16 minutes of court time per game and played a season-high 28 minutes against South Warren in last year’s opening game.

   Seniors Sean Carter and Phillip Kinslow are a pair of varsity unknowns that will be asked to contribute as role players this year. Sean Carter (6’2”) had very little varsity in-game experience last season but sharpened his game at the junior varsity level. Kinslow---a starter for the Patriot football team---also has limited playing experience but will bring added height and athleticism to the squad. He will be asked to use his 6’4” length to provide support inside in battles against several teams with height.

   The Patriot roster includes six juniors---Brett Rippy, Cayden Ross, Bryce Carter, Jacob Lightfoot, Chase Ward, and Camden Carver. Chaykowsky calls the juniors “a solid core group to build on for the season and the future.”

   Rippy burst onto the Region 4 scene as a sophomore.  The playmaking point guard started 28 times and appeared in every game last season. Rippy led the team in points, scoring an average of 12.7 points. Rippy averaged 2.6 rebounds, and handed out 2.5 assists per game. Rippy sank 72 percent of the free throws he attempted (75-103) and made 58 three-point shots. Rippy reached double-figured in scoring es 18 times. His career high point night was a 24 point effort against Cumberland County and Webster County  He grabbed career-high six rebounds against Cumberland County while also dishing out a career-best five assists. Rippy played just over 28 minutes per game and stayed on the court 28 minutes or more 16 times. During a five-game stretch in late December and early January, Rippy averaged 20 points per game. His efforts last season is why the 5’10” guard starts this year ranked as the eighth best player in Region 4 in The Cats Pause magazine.

    Cayden Ross brought about five points to the floor in his 27 games of action. The 6’0” junior started 20 times last year and registered just under 19 minutes of action in each game. Ross scored a career-high 12 points vs. Glasgow and grabbed a career-best five rebounds vs. Butler County.

   Joining Rippy and Ross as junior guards on the varsity will be guards Bryce Carter, Jacob Lightfoot, and Camden Carver. Carter (5’10”) and Carver (5’10’) saw limited varsity action as sophomores. Lightfoot (6’2”) steps on to the court after a very successful football season. The trio is expected to give AC-S needed depth as the season progresses.

   In addition, junior Chase Ward, a 6’2” junior forward, will be called upon to add depth to the inside line-up night in and night out. Ward earned valuable experience in junior varsity action and saw several minutes of court time throughout the 2017 season.

   The Patriot opening night roster will also include a pair of sophomores and freshman. Charlie Calvert, a 6’3” sophomore guard and Owen Stamper, a 6’3” sophomore forward will add length to the squad. Both can score and will be asked to play solid defense during their time on the court. The pair saw limited varsity action last year but enjoyed solid seasons at both the junior varsity and freshman levels.

   Freshman Mason Shirley and Kayden Whitney have worked their way into varsity roster positions. Shirley stands 5’11 while Whitney is 6’4.” Both players are expected to polish their skills through a wealth of playing time on both the freshman and junior varsity schedules.

   The Patriots will look to improve upon last year’s offensive output. Finding scoring to replace the 22 points a game lost to graduation and to help Rippy and Marcus Carter will be key. Defensively, the Patriots will look to tighten a defense that allowed opponents to score 59 points a game on average in 2017.

   “We will be a team that tries to control tempo and playing under control,” Chaykowsky explained.

   Another question that will be answered as the season unfolds is how much the experience of last season plays out in what will be a tough District 15 and Region 4. AC-S will look to maintain or improve upon their 48.7% shooting offensively last year and coach Chaykowsky will expect his team to improve in shooting free throws. Last year, AC-S made 64.8% of their free throws---a percentage that is expected to rise.

 

   Last season, 13 of the Patriots’ 29 games were decided by eight points or less. In addition, the Patriots lost eight games by less than 10 points---a stat that generally is reflective of young teams. If this year’s Patriots can win the close games, a winning record is well within reach.

 

   However, the district will not be easy. Monroe County (17-13 last year) is the defending champions and will return one of the region’s best player. Billy Michael Dyer averaged 22.3 points and will lead an experienced group of players. Barren County (17-16) returns Jared Coomer, giving veteran coach Warren Cunningham an air of optimism to start the season. Glasgow (4-24) was plagued by injuries last year. However, third year coach James Willett is looking for health and a talented younger team to play their way into contention for a district title.

 

   Region 4 is the home of defending state champion Bowling Green. The Purples (36-2) are poised to capture their fifth consecutive regional crown but will have to do so with a new roster of players and a new coach. Veteran coach D.G. Sherrill has stepped aside with former South Warren and Purple assistant coach Derrick Clubb taking the reins. Region 4 Runner-up Russellville (22-12) as well as Warren Central (17-14) will be factors with the Dragons one of the top threats to dethrone Bowling Green.

 

   AC-S will open the season Tuesday on the road at South Warren.

 

   “They will be a team that plays fast and up-tempo,” Chaykowsky noted. “We will try and control the tempo and play at our pace, whether fast or slow.”

 

   The Spartans went 6-24 last year but should feature a more experienced ball team. Next Friday, AC-S will travel to Russellville. 

   

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