Story by Daniel Woods
MARTINSBURG, W.Va – Coming off of three consecutive tournament appearances, Jefferson boys basketball coach Richard Lewis knows how to prepare a team to play with a target on its back. As tipoff of the 2023-24 season nears, the Cougars’ leader is going through that process once again.
“We’re going to get every team’s best shot. Every coach’s best game plan is something that we’re going to see night in and night out,” he said, “So I’m just trying to remind those guys of that but also we want to make sure we have that confidence going into the season as well, having a wealth of experience coming back.”
After winning a quarterfinal game in the state tournament a year ago, all-state guards Jaiden Gladney and Jamari Jenkins return to lead the Cougars from the backcourt. Those two are expected to provide leadership for what Lewis calls potentially the most experienced team he’s had at Jefferson.
“We’ve got nine seniors this year and a host of juniors as well and just one sophomore on the team so we’ve been probably been the oldest this year I’ve been. Two years ago, we had five sophomores on varsity so a lot of those sophomores are now seniors and we’ve added some football players playing for the first time or returning for the first time in a couple years so we’ve added some depth along with some experience,” he said.
Lewis believes that those football players he’s added to the roster this season will help bring some power in the paint along with senior Wyatt Shively who returns to lead the frontcourt.
“We have a first-time basketball player at Jefferson High School, Quintin Goins. He’s a 6-3, 250-pound defensive tackle for our football team. He’s going to play this year. He’s played in the preseason so far, looking for some big things from him this year,” he said, “Also, Jared Wilberger played as a ninth and tenth-grader. He didn’t play last year as a junior. He’s about 6-3, about 240 so we got two guys inside that’s coming off the football team. They’re going to be seniors, looking to have those two guys step up for us.”
As the season gets ready to tip off, Lewis maintains to the luxury to mix and match his lineup thanks to depth. Seniors Ty Vickers and Kylan Johnson will be counted on in that mix along with junior Tay’Shaun Roper.
Jefferson gets the 2023-24 season underway on December 6 as the Cougars travel to face Frederick (Md.).