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Despite having lost the 8th Region Player of the Year and another all-region player, high expectations still abound for the Collins boys’ basketball team.
Some preseason prognostications have pegged the Titans as the team to beat in the region, and Collins Coach Chris Gaither said he is fine with that.
“The expectations are always the same at Collins,” Gaither said. “We want to win the region. We won’t deviate from that expectation.”
The Titans return two starters and their sixth man from a team that went 21-7 and won the 30th District Tournament championship for the second consecutive season before falling to eventual champion South Oldham in overtime (85-82) in the first round of the 8th Region tournament.
Gone are Dez Marshall, the region’s Player of the Year; Buddy Johnson, a sharpshooter who also earned all-region honors, and big man Terez Smith, who is a freshman forward at Spalding.
Back are junior point guard Brent Kidwell, senior wing Lawson Page and senior forward Ralphie Stone.
Kidwell had a solid summer and already is receiving some college attention.
“He’s arguably the best point guard in the region and one of the best point guards in the state,” Gaither said. “The focus for him this season is being solid as a consistent point guard for us.”
Stone, meanwhile, returns after earning all-region honors last season as the Titans’ first reserve off the bench.
Those two will lead the way, “then we just have solid kids around them,” Gaither said.
Among those are Page, Jayon Winstead, Paul Miller, Caleb Vogel, Deion Cochran, Mark Sorrells and Grant Clarkson.
“I think this year you’ll see us scoring more by committee rather than with one or two guys,” Gaither said.
On the wings will be Page, once football season ends; the scrappy Winstead, who will also spell Kidwell at point; Miller (“He’s a warrior,” Gaither said); Cochran (who hit a trio of 3-pointers and had 13 points in Tuesday’s scrimmage against Christian Academy of Louisville) and Clarkson.
Inside the Titans will have Vogel, a 6-foot-6 senior, and Sorrells, a 6-4 junior. Vogel, a standout defender for the boys’ soccer team, “had the most consistent summer for us,” according to Gaither.
Although rebounding and scoring are two of Gaither’s biggest concerns entering the season, one thing he said he has been pleased with thus far is defense.
“We’re in the right position at the right time this year [on defense],” Gaither said.
That wasn’t always the case last season, especially in that season-ending loss to South Oldham, which Gaither said he’s watched, “over and over and over.”
“This season we don’t want to relax defensively,” he said.
But Gaither said one thing he isn’t worried about effort.
“This is probably the most fun group of kids I’ve had,” he said. “This is the group that will probably show more progress from beginning to end than any team I’ve had here.
“I know exactly what I’m going to get out of my players every night.”
Collins at a glance
Head coach: Chris Gaither (3rd year, 45-18).
Assistant coaches: Dook Combs, Tim Pardee, Norris Beckley, Kelsey Combs.
Last season: 21-7, lost to South Oldham, 85-82, in overtime in the first round of the 8th Region Tournament.
Starters returning (2): G Brent Kidwell (6-0, Jr.); G/F Lawson Page (6-1, Sr.).
Starters lost (3): F Dez Marshall; G Buddy Johnson; C Terez Smith.
Other returning players: F Ralphie Stone (6-3, Sr.); G Jayon Winstead (5-8, Sr.); G Paul Miller (6-1, Sr.); F/C Caleb Vogel (6-6, Sr.); G Deion Cochran (5-11, Jr.); F Mark Sorrells (6-4, Jr.); F Conner Lay (6-1, Jr.); G Grant Clarkson (5-10, Soph.); G/F Trejon Stone (5-10, Soph.).
Newcomer: G Will McDonald (5-11, Soph.).
3 - GALLATIN COUNTY; 7 - at North Oldham; 9 - at South Oldham; 10 - FRANKLIN COUNTY; 13 - at Shelby County; 14 - vs. Boyle County at Mercer County, 6:30 p.m.; 17 - at Madison Central; 20 - vs. East Ridge at Rowan County, 9:30 p.m.; 21 - vs. George Rogers Clark at Rowan County, 7 p.m.; 26 – vs. TBA at Lloyd Memorial; 27 – vs. TBA at Lloyd Memorial; 28 – vs. TBA at Lloyd Memorial.
3 – ANDERSON COUNTY; 4 – vs. Mason County in Indianapolis, TBA; 11 – at Spencer County; 17 – SHELBY COUNTY; 21 – at Oldham County; 24 – at Bullitt East; 25 – vs. Simon Kenton at Henry County, 6 p.m.; 28 – WOODFORD COUNTY.
1 – EASTERN; 4 – GRAYSON COUNTY, 8 p.m.; 5 – at Trinity; 11 – at Frankfort; 14 – at DeSales; 15 – at Harrison County; 18 – WALTON-VERONA; 21 – JOHN HARDIN.
Home games in CAPS. Start time is 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.