GRANITE QUARRY — For the East Rowan boys’ basketball squad, the good news is they have eight experienced veterans returning from last season. The bad news is that six of them are on the Mustang football team and two others are recovering from serious injuries.
The good news is that East welcomed the six healthy footballers back this past Monday but the bad news is they are scheduled to open their 2013-14 season tonight at Mt. Pleasant. For Coach Trey Ledbetter and his team, the transition will have to be a swift one.
“It is really hard because you have a lot of things you want to put in but you can’t when your guys are still playing football.” Ledbetter said. “We are kind of limited as to what we can do right now execution-wise and defensively. I would never interfere with football but once we get them all out here and ready, we do have a lot of experience returning.”
Entering his fourth season at the Mustang helm, Ledbetter knows his team will come together nicely by the holidays, blending his experienced returning group with a crop of top young talent. Assisting him with the process this year will be Kurt Misenheimer, also the jayvee coach, and veteran Rick Roseman. The team will have to get themselves ready to compete in the newly aligned nine-team South Piedmont 3A conference comprised of four Rowan teams and five quality Cabarrus schools. East is coming off a 6-17 campaign last season in the former North Piedmont league. They finished sixth and failed to make the play-offs but Ledbetter hopes that will change this season with another year of experience for his core team.
The Mustangs did lose a couple of inside rebounders to graduation in Josh Gobble and Tyler L’Hommedieu plus long-range shooter Conor Honeycutt has opted not to play this season to concentrate on cross country and track. Yet East has capable and experienced players at every position. On the inside they have big bodied seniors Dock Corpening (6-4) and Joshua Moses (6-3) along with a bulked up junior forward Harrison Bell (6-1). “I look for them to control the boards because they are physically able”, Ledbetter said.
Added to the mix is junior forward Simon Soles and newcomer Christian Hester a 6-2 junior forward who has transferred in from Gray Stone this year.
“He is a banger and likes to get inside,” Ledbetter said. “I am intrigued to see how he fits into our system.”
Junior forward Jack Weisensel is recovering from a leg injury suffered in football but will add depth inside when he returns in late December.
Out on the wings, East returns junior twin brother forwards Sam Wyrick (6-2) and Seth Wyrick (6-2), both solid long range shooters and slashers. Sam averaged 6.6 points last season “but he is more of a do it all player with points, rebounds, steals and assists,” Ledbetter said. As for Seth, the coach called him “a pure shooter and I look for him to fill that role this season.”
Leading the attack from the point will be senior Donte Means (5-10) who was both All-County and All-Conference last season, averaging 11.0 points per game. “Donte is our leader and we are looking for him to drive the engine,” Lebetter said. “He showed flashes last year of being that player the other team has to concentrate on, that go-to guy. With his speed and athletic skills that is what we look for from him this year.”
If all goes well, the Mustang backcourt will receive a boost from the return of senior guard Calvin Edwards (5-10), a speedster on the transition game and outside shooter. Suffering from an injured vertebrae that cause him to miss the entire football season, Edwards may be able to suit up for basketball sometime in December. “He is itching to get out there,” Ledbetter noted,”As long as he gets cleared he will be a real plus for us.”
And then there are the young guns, the new guys with no varsity experience but lots of promise…and lots of confidence. Up from the jayvees are junior point guard Austin Wyse and 6-1 wing Austin Love. Ledbetter praises Wyse for the way he has matured in the last six months. “I have been very impressed with his skill set and his mentality.” As for the athletic Love, the Coach says he is really depending on him this season for scoring and defense. “He can really shoot it and sometimes he is a little too confident in himself but he will be a key for us.”
Freshman wing player Datavian Davis (6-1) goes by “Ta” and offers the most intrigue and potential. “He is impressive and very athletic and he wants the spotlight on him,” Ledbetter said. “He can jump and loves to rebound so we will see how it develops.”
Despite the delayed start this fall due to football, the Mustang team did get a chance to bond and work together this summer at the Catawba and Guilford team camps. “This team really likes each other and loves to hang out with each other,” Ledbetter said.
The prospects of playing in a very physical SPC and getting his team to gel are the big challenges facing the Mustangs.
“We are a typical East Rowan team,” Ledbetter says,”We lack for size but hopefully we will make up for it with heart. We are a more perimeter oriented offense as always and on defense we want to stretch the court and make it as hard as possible for somebody to bring it up the court. Our goal is to get better game by game, week by week and to always have a chance at the end of the game to win.”
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