Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

November 27, 2013

Bland County seniors ready to fill big paw prints

By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLAND,Va. — They’re not “the trio,” but a six-man corps of seniors playing basketball for the Bland County Bears in the next three months will attempt to match the exploits of a team that made it to the Division 1 state quarterfinals last spring.

“I think we’re capable of making it back, I really do,” said senior Tyler White during a break in Monday night’s practice. “We’ve just got to learn to play together, and play hard.”

Being part of a run deep into the playoffs last season “really meant a lot,” White said. “We (haven’t) had much success in boys’ basketball here ... . It just felt really good to be a part of that.”

Rich Hankins, the Bears’ veteran coach, said, “We lost four or five key kids from last year’s team. This year’s team is going to be young and quick and very athletic.”

They looked the part on Monday in the gym at Rocky Gap High School, working out the details of their offensive sets and defensive formations in a fast-paced scrimmage up and down the floor.

White, perspiring from the workout, said after getting a sip of water that the seniors are ready to make an impact in their last high school hoops season.

“It feels really good,” he said. Last season, he said, “We had Darryl (Clark) and Asher (Dillow) and Chase (Hankins) here, the trio. And now it’s our time to shine.”

Dillow and Hankins are now playing for Bluefield College and Lynchburg College, respectively.

Bland County boys coach Rich Hankins said, “We lost four or five key kids from last year’s team. This year’s team is going to be young and quick and very athletic.”

On Monday, he said, “I feel like, we’re a little bit behind, as far as practice (goes), and kids coming out of football — a little bit. Normally, at this stage of the season, we’re in the full swing of things.”

“But this group of kids, they’ve been practicing hard, they’ve been practicing well together. So I think those two areas should carry them a long way.”

The senior contingent for Bland County consists of White, Jonathan Goins, Dylan Walker, Heath Williams, Travis Reed and Cody Morgan.

White said, “Honestly, this is probably the hardest I’ve ever worked. It just hit me over the summer, that this is going to be my last year, so it’s time to step it up a notch.”

— Contact Tom Bone at

tbone@bdtonline.com