Story by Daniel Woods
MARTINSBURG, W.Va – Hedgesville boys basketball coach Kelly Church has learned to expect ebbs and flows when it comes to experience.
The Eagles reached the state tournament a year ago with a large core of seniors on the roster and now he’s tasked with bringing together a team that’s still figuring out just what it takes to play varsity basketball.
“When you’re in front of the crowd and the lights go on, some people are really, really good when they’re in the gym and they’re in practice,” he said, “so it’s going to be a work in progress and we’ll try to figure out who can do what when the lights are on.
Regardless of the returning production that Hedgesville brings back, the tenets of a Kelly Church basketball program are established. With such stability from the freshmen team up to the varsity, it’s all been worked down to a science.
“We have a big gym and a small gym and you want to be in the big gym as soon as you can if you’re a younger kid. If you’re a freshman and you make it in the big gym for even a part of our practices, that’s where you want to be because it’s different. It’s harder. It’s more intense. We like to think that we do it a lot like, especially in the big gym, we like to think we do it like college basketball,” he said.
Hedgesville may not return much of last season’s scoring but Church does have a handful of players that were along for the ride that he can count on to set the tone.
Davonte Wilmer, Noah Brown and Zandon Gainey each contributed in various roles a year ago but beyond those three, the Eagles are counting on new faces to make an impact.
“We’re going to have to develop more depth as the season goes along,” Church said, “We’ve got kids who played lots of minutes in JV games. It’s a different world in JV and varsity. I don’t care what school you’re at or who you’re playing against.”
Another season of Hedgesville Eagle basketball tips off on December 8 with a home game against Broadfording Christian Academy.