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A new era of ‘Bearcat Basketball’ will begin Thursday against Philip Barbour

Modified: Wednesday, Dec 5th, 2012

GRAFTON -- “Bearcat Basketball will feature discipline and defense,” says new head coach Andy Sorine.

I’m looking forward to coaching the Grafton High School Bearcats, and building a program that will involve the community, as well as, becoming a program that everyone in Grafton and Taylor County will be proud of,” he said. “And, I believe that defense and discipline are the keys to winning basketball games.”

Sorine will take his Grafton Bearcats to Philippi on Thursday, Dec. 6, to tip off the 2012-2013 season against the home-standing Philip Barbour Colts at 7:30 p.m., after the 5:30 p.m. junior varsity contest concludes.

The Bearcats will feature only one returning starter from last year’s 12-10 season. He is senior Ivy Bartlett, a 6-0 guard, who scored 9.7 points-per-game last winter.

Bartlett led the Bearcats in assists, with 74, and in steals, with 50, while collecting 90 rebounds.

The trio of Corey Robinson, Joe Christopher and Skylar Rucker are all returning lettermen.

Robinson, a 6-4 senior forward, scored 18 points and yanked down 15 rebounds in limited varsity action, while scoring 8.5 points-per-game for the junior varsity team.

Christopher, a 6-0 senior guard, tossed in 28 points on the varsity level, and tallied 108 points as a jayvee.

And, Rucker, a 6-4 junior, scored 108 points and grabbed 62 rebounds in varsity action, and had nine points in his only junior varsity appearance of the 2011-2012 season.

Two more seniors are found on Grafton’s roster. They are 5-9 guard Drew Waters, and 5-10 guard Lucas Ware.

Waters scored 15 points in varsity action last winter, to go along with his 51 points for the jayvee Bearcats, and Ware did not play last winter.

“I think we will start Bartlett, Robinson, Rucker, and freshman Chris Smith Thursday night at Philippi,” Sorine said. “But, after our two scrimmages, I’m still looking for another guard to step up.”

Smith, a 6-4 wing-forward, scored 356 points as an eighth grader at Taylor County Middle School a year ago.

“We scrimmaged Braxton County, and did some good things, but we did not rebound very well, and gave up too many points on second and third chances,” continued Sorine. “Then, against East Fairmont, in our second scrimmage, we rebounded better, but our offense did not get many good looks at the basket.

“So, we still have some work to do,” Sorine went on. “The kids are giving me some good efforts, and they have come along way since our first practice...But, I think it will take some time to get where we want to be with my system, after all it’s all new to them.”

Four more juniors, eight sophomores and another freshmen round out this year’s roster for coach Sorine to build his team around.

Guards, James Haddix (5-6) and Alex Gabbert (6-0), and big men, Baylen Rogers (6-2) and transfer Sam Heinzman (6-5), are the juniors.

Guards Chasen Bush (6-0), Mitch Crutchfield (5-9), Nate Moses (5-8) and Hunter Devart (5-6), along with big men, Bryan Rosencrance (6-0), Steve Moats (6-0), Brandon Davis (6-1) and Jyron Stull (6-5), make up the sophomore class.

Plus, 6-4 freshman Austin Newlon is the remaining player on the squad.

Gabbert led the junior varsity’s scoring attack last winter, winding up with a total of 114 points, as the younger Bearcats finished with a 5-10 record.

Meanwhile, Grafton’s freshmen turned in a 7-6 season, with Bush (174) and Rosencrance (135) both topping the 100-point plateau.

Andrew Moore stays on as Grafton’s assistant coach, with Mike Johnson still coaching the Freshmen Bearcats, as well.

Looking at this year’s freshmen team -- guards Seth Wright, Kyle Gerkin, Jeff May, Zach Musgrove and Braden Randall; forwards Matt Dillon and Travis Zannino; centers Aasin Edison and Walker Simmons; and swingmen guard/forward Tyler Croston, forward/center Corey Freeman and forward/center Nick Watton; -- round out coach Johnson’s roster.

“These kids are all working hard, and I have no complaints about their efforts at this time,” coach Johnson said. “We will continue to work and, hopefully, learn more this week, and then see what happens on Friday night.”

The Freshmen Bearcats are scheduled to tip off their season at 7 p.m. this Friday, Dec. 7, in the Philip Barbour High School Gym at Philippi.

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