CLARKSBURG, W.Va. – The Robert C. Byrd boys basketball team will feature many names that haven’t seen a lot of varsity time last season.
To much surprise, Robert C. Byrd fell in the first round of the Class-AAA State tournament last season. That was the team’s last game with first team All-State captain Bryson Lucas, three other starters and many important players and head coach of 19 years Bill Bennett.
Luckily for the Flying Eagles, Basil Lucas, former assistant coach, was named the new head coach of the program.
Lucas knows this team well and is pleased with what he brings back this season.
“I’m really excited for this season. I’ve got a great group of kids. Most of these kids that are juniors and seniors have been playing here since they were freshman,” Lucas said.
Senior guard Jeremiah King is Byrd’s only returning starter. But the team has numerous returning players, some with valuable varsity experience, that are forced to have a bigger role this season.
“Junkins played minutes last year, Brayden Thomason played minutes last year but their roles are going to change this year. We also have Maurice Garrison who is getting in the mix, Quinten Cooley, I really believe he’s going to have a big year and Charles Hawkins. I’m really excited about this group. I think we’re going to be really competitive,” Lucas said. “I think there are some people who have put a target on our chest and we’re not going to shy away from it just because we’re a little inexperienced in the beginning of the year.”
King and senior Nathaniel Junkins have the most experience on the quite inexperienced roster. Lucas expects them to show that through their actions.
“Nathaniel Junkins and Jeremiah King have to be leaders. They’re seniors, they’ve been here, they’ve been in the wars, they’ve played in state tournaments. They have to be able to take their energy, their experience and teach the younger guys as we go along and they’ve done a tremendous job of it so far,” Lucas said.
King touches on the inexperience of the young roster but said with time, the team will come together.
“Obviously we’re going to play good defense, that’s obviously Byrd basketball. Our offense is going to come, we still have younger guys that haven’t had a lot of varsity play so they’re going to have to get that experience also but once that comes together, we’re going to be a tough team,” King said.
Junkins nodded at the seniors from last year’s team and how he developed senior leadership from them.
“I think it comes from the guys before us. We look up to Bryson [Lucas] , Gavin [Kennedy] , Blake [Meighen], just watching what they did and just try to set good examples for the young guys,” Junkins said.
One thing that won’t change is the iconic Robert C. Byrd defense.
“This program has been built on man to man defense and going back to when Brad Underwood was coaching in 1996, that’s the way it’s always been. I didn’t come in and reinvent the wheel. They’re going to play man to man defense, they know if they want to get on the court, that’s what they have to learn to do,” Lucas said.
RCB opens its season at home on December 15 as they host Philip Barbour.
“If we need to tweak other things, we’ll absolutely do that. We’re going to do what it takes to win,” Lucas said.