• 61°

Salisbury boys basketball preview

Trell Baker leads Salisbury boys

JON C. LAKEY / SALISBURY POST
Salisbury guards: Trell Baker (4) in front; Standing, from left: Elijah Moss (12), Oshaun Robinson (20) and Cameron Gill (5).

LAST SEASON’S RECORD: 15-8, 7-3 CCC (2nd place, tie)

RETURNING PLAYERS: 6

RETURNING STARTERS: 1 (Trell Baker)

COACH: Bryan Withers (3rd year at SHS, 33-13; 6th year overall, 60-58)

By Dennis Davidson

dennis.davidson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Bryan Withers, boys basketball coach at Salisbury High, was fired up on photo day a few weeks ago. Now four games into the season, it’s easy to see why.

The Hornets are off to a 4-0 start, all Central Carolina Conference games, having beaten Thomasville, West Davidson, Lexington and Central Davidson.

Withers has no problem acknowledging that the Hornets’ “go-to guy” is senior guard Trell Baker, a blur on the court who has also developed into a good shooter. But it’s one of his “bigs” that also has Withers’ eyes lighting up.

“Of course, Trell Baker is going to be our No. 1 guy, but we have a lot of guys who can pick it up,” said Withers. “And I think Bill Fisher is going to surprise people with his improvement over last year … his athleticism will change some people’s minds about him and thus, our team.”

Baker has 78 points in the first four games (19.5 avg.), including 25 against Thomasville in the opener. Fisher, a 6-5 junior post player, had a 25-point game against Lexington and is averaging 15.3.

Others in the returning cast include senior guards Oshaun Robinson and Elijah Moss, junior guard Cameron Gill and senior wing Jaquan Davis.

That’s right, just six players returning from a squad that went 15-8 last season. The Hornets finished third in the CCC at 7-3. There will be more conference games this year, as the league has grown to 10 schools with the addition of South Rowan, North Davidson, Ledford, Central Davidson and Oak Grove (North Rowan has moved to the 1A Yadkin Valley Conference).

“I think we’ll surprise a lot of people with the talent that we have,” said Withers. “There’s a lot of newcomers to the program and we had a good core of juniors and seniors coming back. We’re really heavy with guards, but we can play the style that I love now — and that’s what I’ve been waiting on — play a lot of people and run them in and out of the lineup.”

Among the newcomers are junior guards Tre Carlton, Jabreal Russell, Kemuel Sloan and Isaiah Phillips, and sophomore guard Xavier Kesler. New forwards are juniors Bronson Canon and Brennan Bailey. Another forward, Lonnie Rogers, is a 6-3 senior playing for the first time.

Canon is a transfer, and a “very athletic” 6-3 player that Withers is excited about.

“He is so talented,” Withers said of Canon. “It’s just him getting accustomed to us. He’s been to a number of schools, so it’s just getting accustomed to my yelling, and learning how to play hard every play.

“Oshaun will be key for us, as well as Gill and Moss,” continued Withers. “So, we have a lot of good guards and we have some guards that we’re not talking about yet, like Sloan (who is from Texas).”

Robinson is averaging 14 points per game thus far this season.

Withers, who also was part of a 10-school conference when he coached at South Rowan, welcomes the challenge of the increased number of league contests.

“There’s a lot of games, but I like that,” said Withers. “I’m used to that from my days at South Rowan. I can’t wait. The guys are ready and I’m ready. You’ve got to bring it every night.”

Baker is the only starter returning for Salisbury. The other four starters from last year — Zadrian Harris, Tre Oats, Will Leckonby and Shaleek Williams — have graduated.

Harris and Oats provided inside punch and Leckonby was a 3-point shooter.

“We have different people who can shoot,” said Withers. “Last year, we relied on one guy to shoot the 3-ball (Leckonby), but this year, four or five different guys can make the shot for us.

“We use a lot of players and we love a high-scoring game, but I think we’ll be much better defensively than we have been,” continued Withers. “Outside shots won’t be our game so much. We can knock them down, but if we utilize what we have, we can get into the paint and make things happen.”

So far, so good.

NOTE: Kesler has an injury and will not be available until Christmas. He is the son of PeeWee Kesler and nephew of Jimmy Kesler, both former North Rowan standouts. “When Xavier gets back, he’ll play big minutes for us,” said Withers.

Comments

Crime

Blotter: Man found on church property found with litany of drugs

Crime

Man charged in connection to 2019 overdose

Business

‘It’s our big time’: Salisbury Farmers Market reopens Saturday

Education

Schools capital funding still frozen as RSS sends local budget to county

Business

Shields, Cheerwine Festival receive N.C. Main Street Awards

Kannapolis

Duke University launches kidney disease study in Kannapolis for people of African descent

Education

Horizons Unlimited will hold in-person summer camps

Education

Education briefs: Catawba planning for more in-person activities, free summer school tuition

Coronavirus

County’s full COVID-19 vaccinations top 22,600

High School

High school golf: With Merrell, Mustangs back on top

Local

Spencer investigating rat problem on South Iredell Street

News

Livingstone, Mission House Church to host national ‘Black Voters Matter’ listening session

Education

Shoutouts

Business

Groundbreaking on Pennant Square signals next phase in downtown Kannapolis revitalization

Nation/World

J&J vaccine to remain in limbo while officials seek evidence

Nation/World

Prosecutors: No charges for officer in Capitol riot shooting

Nation/World

Biden to pull US troops from Afghanistan, end ‘forever war’

Nation/World

Former Minnesota cop charged in shooting of Black motorist

Crime

Blotter: April 14

Elections

Former North Carolina Gov. McCrory enters US Senate race

Crime

Salisbury woman arrested in Myrtle Beach for abducting child

Health

County updates health director job description, will advertise for position

High School

High school tennis: East beats Carson, still hopes to share NPC title

Elections

Board of Elections to purchase upgraded voting equipment using federal grant