Eight Men Out: Panthers, Tigers, Sharks lose seniors

The Carolina Forest, Conway and St. James boys basketball coaches are experiencing their own version of a “senior moment” this winter sports season, and it has nothing to do with being forgetful.

Instead, the Panthers, Tigers and Sharks each lost eight seniors off last year’s squads, forcing the coaches to replace a lot of experience and production with underclassmen and newcomers in the 2011-12 season, which gets under way this week.

Conway “lost eight seniors from last year’s team, so there are a lot of question marks about this year’s squad,” Tigers coach Michael Hopkins said.  “We will rely on a number of people moving up from our JV program.”

The Tigers do return some game experience, with senior guards Devin Strothers and Torrance Evans and junior forward Kahmil Cooper back on a squad that finished 16-9 last season. Junior guard Mykal Moody and post players Malcolm Green and Trevon Longs move up from JV to provide reinforcements.

Conway opens the season Friday against St. James, which also underwent an extreme makeover with the loss of eight seniors. The Sharks return two starters – juniors Caleb Duggan and Matt Strange – from last year’s playoff squad that went 19-7.

Newcomers J.C. Cavin and Jacob Wright) join first-year varsity performers Russell Sansbury, Brooks Hurston, Geoffrey Guyette, Tyrell Dukes, Dakota Homes, Tyus Goodman and Haywood Brandon as the Sharks look to build a new identity as quickly as possible.

Carolina Forest coach Brian Brunson, coming off a 10-13 campaign, also finds the cupboards a bit bare as the Panthers try to rally fresh troops into action. Seniors Robert Gray, Jarvez Holmes JahZavier Anderson and Aaron Williams are back to provide some leadership and experience for the Panthers, who are seeking their fourth straight playoff berth.

Newcomers to the varsity squad include Logan Helgerson, Johnny Plump, Melquan Nelson, Isaac Wathen, Donovan Williams, Adam Glenn, Ryan Yurachek, Chris Johnson and Will Brunson. The guard-heavy Panthers plan to unveil a more up-tempo style when they open the season Saturday against North Myrtle Beach.

For the Tigers, Sharks and Panthers, their “senior moments” may be a thing of the past but the infusion of young talent should make for an interesting 2011-12 season.

Photo by Chuck Silvey

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