Buckeye Trail's Rod Gray set a goal for last season to finish atop the OVAC 3A standings. The Warriors (14-9) accomplished that goal but that success was tempered by a loss to second seed Magnolia in the Boys' championship finals, 75-53.
While the Warriors graduated three talented players in Zach Roe, C.J. Beaver and Austin Evans expectations are once again high for Buckeye Trail.
Looking at the roster for this season it would seem that experience will not be an issue as the Warriors return with 11 seniors on varsity, however Coach Gray states that just 5 of them are returning lettermen.
Photo Courtesy/WES JONES PHOTOGRAPHY
PICTURED IS the 2013-14 Buckeye Trail basketball team. Front row, from left, are Caleb Gray, Tyler Starr, Jed Burga and Tyler Doudna. Back row, from left, are Morgan Dougherty, R.J. Douglass, Wade Nelson, Josh Toland, Spencer Warden, Lane Starr and Cory Cutlip.
The core of Buckeye Trail's 2012 team will be returning intact in 6-0 forward Caleb Gray and guards 6-0 Lane Starr, Tyler Doudna (5-10) and 5-7 Tyler Starr. Anchoring the middle again this season will be 6-5 senior Josh Toland.
The remainder of the senior class did not see much varsity time last season but will make the Warriors bench competitive with guards Morgan Dougherty (5-11), Jed Burga (6-0), and RJ Douglass (6-0), Senior forwards are Wade Nelson (6-2), Spencer Warden (6-2) and Cory Cutlip (6-1).
"It is a rare opportunity with 11 seniors, especially at a school of our size," Gray commented. "Of course with no juniors on the team we will be relying on our sophomore JV squad next season."
Sophomores on the junior varsity roster include guard Chase Milhon (5-8) and forwards Jessie Lashley (6-1), Garrett Beaverson (6-0), Colton Wheeler (5-10) and Isiah Tucker (6-1). Freshmen fighting for time at the JV level include Troy Pontius (5-6), Carter Streiff (5-5), Jake Doudna (6-2), Justin Jones (5-6), Julio Rome (6-0), Kiel Berger (5-4), TJ Grafton (5-8) and Justin Paden (5-6).
"We are still not going to be a big team inside," Gray admitted. "We have been emphasizing rebounding and rebound positioning this season."
"We will continue to work hard at getting better this season," Gray said. "We have been playing well but we still have a lot of work to do to get to where we need to be."
The Warriors will play an almost identical schedule to last season with the exception of the Indian Valley game which is earlier on the calendar.
"I think we are a little better at this point than last season, but I also think that all of the teams on our schedule mostly have everyone back, and they will be a little better also."
Buckeye Trail plays a tough dual conference schedule in both the Pioneer Valley Conference (PVC) and the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference (OVAC) with fellow 3A opponents River, Monroe Central, Fort Frye and Shenandoah all coming off of successful campaigns.
In addition the Warriors schedule includes Cambridge, Meadowbrook and Union Local. They begin their season at home Saturday hosting Barnesville. Then three on the road at Cambridge, Fort Frye and Caldwell.