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Pottsville ApachesPublished October 27, 2013 at 5:00 a.m.
Coach: Shane Thurman, third year, 49-12 at school, 315-153 overall
Assistant coach: Garrett Hill
2012-13 record: 27-6 overall and 13-1 conference; conference and state champions. Pottsville beat Dollarway in the state championship at Barton Coliseum in Little Rock, 54-50.
Returning starters: The list begins with Michael Perry (5-10, 175-pound senior point guard), a three-time all-state player and the defending Class 4A State Tournament MVP. Perry averaged 18.5 points, 4.5 assists and 3 steals per game last year. The Apaches also return all-conference shooting guard Travis Cole (6-0, 150, 13 ppg).
Best inside players: Senior Anthony Freeman (6-0, 225); senior Nathan Walker (6-4, 170); junior Andrew Rushing (6-5, 175); and sophomores John Wesley Bowman (6-0, 155) and Payton Lasher (6-0, 185). However, Thurman said, none played any significant varsity minutes last season, but they will get their chances this year.
Best outside players: Perry and Cole will be the mainstays, but several other upperclassmen have an opportunity to be in the rotation, Thurman said, including 5-9 senior guard Rhouis Allen, 5-9 senior guard Cameron Johnson and 5-7 junior guard Cavin Reed.
How will you match/exceed/fall short of your success from last year?: Obviously, it will be hard to exceed last season, but the sophomore class is coming off a 23-2 season that included a district championship. Thurman said Jake Dugger, Josh Dugger, Kyle Reynolds, Bowman and Lasher could all contribute right away. Walker OVERSET FOLLOWS:did not play last year but has rejoined the team for his senior season. “We just have to focus on being the best we can be,” Thurman said.
Team strengths: Depth and experience at the guard position as well as team chemistry and quickness.
Team weaknesses: Inexperience everywhere except at the guard position.
Games to watch: Subiaco and Maumelle.
Toughest opponent: Thurman said Maumelle, which reached the quarterfinals of the Class 4A State Tournament last year, would have the size and athleticism to contend again in 2013-14.
College prospects: Perry. Thurman said he was “a very strong point guard who can handle against pressure, shoot the 3 and has the best mid-range game of any player I have ever coached.”
In a nutshell: The Apaches aren’t resting on their laurels. “It can be a very special year for our team if our big guys continue to progress and if our young guys step up,” Thurman said.