Story by Daniel Woods

MARTINSBURG, W.Va – With his team finishing the 2022-23 season under .500, Martinsburg boys basketball coach Dave Rogers absorbed his worst record in 45 years at the helm.

The veteran Rogers has identified the biggest issues from a year ago and believes the changes have been made that will lead to improvement in the 2023-24 campaign.

“I think our biggest problem was effort, attitude,” he said, “The roster we started with at the beginning of the year was certainly not the roster we ended up with at the end of the year. You’ve got to have great kids and finally, it’s come back around. If you stay in this business long enough, you’re going to hit your peaks and your valleys and this year I think we’ve got some great young men that have worked extremely hard.

With the Martinsburg football team set to play for a state championship on Saturday, Rogers is essentially forced to go through his preseason process twice to make sure that some of the school’s best athletes can get up to speed once their season on the gridiron ends.

“Every year, all the other schools in this area get that four-week jump. They’ve got their players and we wait four more weeks so the only thing is its like starting over,” he said, “Whatever you’ve put in, if they weren’t on the team last year, we’ve got to start over and reteach everything that you’ve taught for four weeks and they’ve got to be in that gym on Monday then they have to get five practices in and then we play Saturday.”

As the Bulldogs await an infusion of talent from the football team, a couple of new faces are holding the fort along with a returning young core that Rogers believes can set the program up for success going forward.

Former Spring Mills standout Keshaun Cheek is now in the fold for the Bulldogs and has plugged in alongside an existing pool of talent.

“We’re probably only going to have maybe two seniors. Everybody else will be underclassmen,” he said, “It’s going to be a good year I think and I think the kids really enjoy being around each other.”

After Jefferson and Hedgesville reached the Class AAAA state basketball tournament a year ago, Rogers expects competition in the Eastern Panhandle Athletic Conference to be potentially stronger than it’s ever been.

That was a factor in his process for putting together a challenging nonconference schedule that includes games against the Linsly School and North Hagerstown at the Skip Fowler Classic and a trip to West Virginia State University to face George Washington and Capital.

Martinsburg opens the 2023-24 boys basketball season December 9 at the Handley Showcase in Winchester against Western Albemarle (Va.).