Injuries took their toll on Carthage boys basketball last season, as the Tigers finished 7-17 overall and 1-7 in COC Large play.
Gone from that team are five graduated players in Garrett McAtee, Ethan Thomas, Taylor Emery, Cooper Allmoslecher and Logan Kabance.
“Last year was a difficult season for our team,” Carthage head coach Steve Ray said. “We struggled with injuries and consistency all year. Rebounding and perimeter shooting were two areas in particular that we felt like hurt us last year. We lose five valuable seniors from last year and replacing their consistency and leadership will be important for us moving forward.”
Carthage does welcome back a strong group of upperclassmen even with the graduation of those five players.
Seniors Chase Johnson, Arkell Smith and Brett Fullerton will lead the team in their final years. Johnson was the team’s leading scorer last year at 10 points per game. He also pulled down 4.5 rebounds per game. Smith is a two-year starter that averaged 7.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. Fullerton is a two-year letterman and posted 3.0 points per game last season.
Juniors Tucker Downing and Ian O’Malley along with sophomore Alex Martini will see expanded roles on varsity this year. Downing was the second-leading scorer on junior varsity last season. O’Malley missed first semester with a back injury, but played in 10 games after Christmas. Martini, who is 6-foot-7, led the junior varsity in scoring and rebounding as a freshman and played in 20 varsity games.
Sophomore guards Marcus Huntley and Taris Jackson along with post player Oscar Campa will compete for varsity minutes as well.
“We lack some depth at some spots and we will be very young at times with the personnel we put on the floor,” Ray said. “However, I think how this group handles adversity and practicing and playing consistently will be the biggest challenge facing this team this season. We will have the vast majority of our team playing football, so we will be under a tight time-frame to get into the swing of basketball season.”
Even with the youth on the team, Ray still thinks his team will improve on last season’s result.
“I expect that we are going to be improved this year,” Ray said. “Our schedule and conference are difficult, but I am optimistic that we will be able to take the next step and be competitive with the better teams on our slate this winter. I like the potential and make-up of this team and we are excited to get started.”
Carthage opens the season Nov. 27 through Dec. 2 with its home tournament.