Story by Daniel Woods

MARTINSBRUG, W.Va – The Spring Mills boys basketball team is focused on winning when it counts.

Head coach Luke Samples is preaching a “March Mentality” after his team finished on something of a sour note at the end of the 2022-23 season.

“We have to be ready in March. We started strong, kind of fizzled out a little bit, injuries, other factors. This year we’re really focused on its all about March. We have to take the next step and we have to win in March,” he said.

The Cardinals return a strong core led by Caleb Thomas that includes Max and Xavier Anderson on the wings and will allow Samples to implement a bruising style of play.

Spring Mills boasts impressive length and positional size across the board with Thomas at 6-7, Xavier Anderson at 6-6,  Loakkhae Uth-Smith at 6-3 and both Max Anderson and Tyler Jones at 6-1.

“We’re going to play physical on both ends of the floor. Obviously with the Anderson boys, they’re probably the two most physical kids in the state. With Caleb Thomas, we move him everywhere on offense and defense,” he said, “We’re going to look to be very, very physical on both ends of the floor.

The Cardinal Coliseum has quickly become one of the toughest places to play in the EPAC and around the state with Samples giving credit to the fact that his program and players maintain a strong connection with the rest of the school and community.

“Having a culture throughout the school day leads into that extracurricular stuff and it shows on the court. It shows in the fans,” he said, “We are serving for our school. We are here to serve our student body. We are here to serve our administration and we are here to serve our teachers. That’s kind of what we preach and kind of what we try to do.”

Spring Mills takes on a challenging nonconference schedule this season that includes defending Class AAAA state champion Morgantown, 2023 runner-up Parkersburg South, and road trips to Logan, Hurricane and Spring Valley.

The Cardinals open the 2023-24 season against Millbrook (Va.) on December 12.