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Barnesville returns four starters

• Pack set for ninth season as head coach; Shamrocks moving back to Division III

December 2, 2013
By RICK THORP - Times Leader Sports Writer ( , Times Leader

His numbers aren't where he'd like them to be, but veteran Barnesville boys' basketball coach Chris Pack is pleased with the quality of young men he has on his roster this season.

Yes, the Shamrocks have moved back to Division III after a short stint in Division IV. But the upswing in enrollment throughout the school, unfortunately, hasn't translated into an increase of players coming out for hoops.

Still, Pack is promoting quality over quanity.

Article Photos

PICTURED IS the 2013-14 Barnesville basketball team. Front row, from left, are Darien Decker, Ben Houston, Justin Hudson, David Stewart, Kaelan Hannahs, Brady Rockwell and Dylan Kernen. Standing, from left, are assistant coach Joe Testa, Lucas Wells, Steven Christie, Brian Clark, Zach Houston, Eric Nicolson, Isaac McGee and head coach Chris Pack.

"I can't ask them to work any harder than they've been working," he said. "It's a good group of kids that love basketball. They might not be the tallest, fastest or most athletic groups I've had, but they're one of the hardest working groups I've had."

Pack, a Beallsville High grad, is entering his ninth season on the Barnesville bench.

His top assistant will be Joe Testa, the former Bethany College standout, who will lead the jayvee unit.

"He's our school pshychologist and he wanted to stay involved in basketball," Pack said.

Also on Pack's staff are Joe Stephens, Bryce Allen, Jason Perkins and Denny Huntsman.

The Shamrocks are looking to rebound from an 8-16 campaign, which ended with a tournament loss to Shadyside.

With the move back to Division III, Barnesville's postseason site remains unclear because the Eastern Distrct has elected to go to a super sectional format, meaning all of the teams will attend one drawing and then the teams will have the option as to at which site they play.

"We'll either play at Meadowbrook or Claymont," Pack said. "A few years back we played at Claymont and got to the district championship and got beat by Garaway. As far as competition, it's probably just a little tougher than Division IV."

Barnesville's regular-season slate remains rigid, too.

"We picked up a game at John Marshall and are going to Steubenville Catholic," Pack said. "Other than that, it's the same."

The Shamrocks lost two starters to graduation - Brandon Burkhart and Dylan MacMillan - and return three starters.

Brian Clark (6-1), a senior, missed about seven games with a concussion, but returned for tournament play.

"He hit a game-winner against Shenandoah and he's got the capability to drive to the hoop," Pack said, noting Clark possess a scorer's mentality.

Senior Zack Houston (6-2) is blessed with a soft touch on the inside, Pack noted.

"By the end of the season he was our leading scorer," he said. "He would do a nice job cleaning up inside and getting to the boards."

Junior Isaac McGee will play a wing spot.

"He's gotten a little bigger and stronger and has the potential of being a scorer," Pack said.

"He has a nice shot and the ability to drive to the hoop and light some teams up. He can also run the point some."

The final starter back in the fold is senior David Stewart (5-10).

"He can bother people defensively and is capable of knocking down some shots," Pack said. "He's a pretty good leader, too. He's a leader on the football team and he's a leader with us."

Senior Eric Nicholson (6-1) is also eyeing playing time.

"He's a capable outside shooter and has a very nice shot," Pack said.

"He's getting stronger and more aggressive and he'll be a big key to our success."

Another key contributor will be senior Lucas Wells (6-1).

"He's gotten bigger and stronger and he'll play more of a guard role for us," Pack said. "He will have to do a multitude of things for us. We'll put him a multitude of spots."

Others looking to make contributions are juniors Brady Rockwell (5-9) and Steven Christie (6-1); sophomores Darrien Decker (5-8), Dylan Kernen (5-11), Justin Hudson (5-10) and Ben Houston (6-0); along with freshman Kaelan Hannahs (5-8), Hunter George (5-9), Colby Haney (5-8) and Dillon Freeman (5-10).

"The chemistry is ahead of last year and we're ahead of where we were last year," Pack said.

"They're learning their roles and accepting them and putting the team ahead of themselves and I'm pretty happy with that end of it."



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