West Holmes boys basketball looking to 'shock some people'

West Holmes boys basketball looking to 'shock some people'

Image Credit: Justin Smith

A lot of excitement is surrounding the West Holmes boys basketball team heading into the 2022-23 season.

The Knights return five letter winners and have a few talented newcomers who will be key players for them this season.

“We have a good combination of strength and size and speed and athleticism,” first-year coach Seth Martin said. “I think we’re going to really shock some people and kind of bring in a new brand of basketball that West Holmes isn’t used to.”

Seniors Zander Shultz, Zevin Proper, Mason Wolfe and Korben Felton and junior Nate Fair are the returning letters winners for West Holmes, which finished last season with a 12-10 overall record and a 7-5 mark in the Ohio Cardinal Conference.

Martin said Shultz has really stepped up over the past few months. The guard averaged 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists last season.

“(Shultz is) a kid that has been with us all fall and has worked hard in the weight room and worked hard with skill work and worked hard with us mentally as well,” Martin said. “I think he’s going to be a good leader for us this year.”

Proper averaged 4.6 points from his guard position last year. Wolfe (8.1 points, 6.1 rebounds), Felton and Fair will all provide some size down low as posts this season.

“The size and strength that Nate Fair and Mason Wolfe bring to the table will help us out,” Martin said.

Martin is excited to see what Kyle Maltarich can do this season. The junior guard/forward would have been a major contributor last year but missed the season because of an injury.

“Kyle Maltarich coming in from football is a kid who is a superb athlete for us,” Martin said. “I think he’s going to be able to do a lot of things offensively and defensively for us.”

Martin said senior Blake Wagers, juniors Collier Cline and Sam Sprang, and freshman Bean Martin will all be contributors this season too.

“I think we’re going to be able to do a lot of different things that people might not expect this year,” coach Martin said.

Martin expects his team to excel at playing sound defense, shooting the basketball and being a united group this season.

“In the past, just watching some film, there were some good individual players last year, but they kind of had a sporadic shot selection at times,” he said. “I think this year we’re going to see a more balanced offense, a little bit more sharing the basketball, and just a lot more communication and togetherness on the offensive and defensive end and just playing a little bit more of a team brand of basketball.”

Martin wasn’t hired as coach until mid-July, so he had limited time during the off-season to work with his players. Because of that, he expects his team to go through some growing pains during the first part of the season.

“Being hired in so late, we really didn’t get a chance to put in a new offense or our defensive philosophy,” he said. “We just had our full team for the first time on (Nov. 15) with the football guys coming in. I will say this — they picked up stuff rather quickly and are working extremely hard. In practice we’re going to be doing a lot of skill work all year long, but we’re also going to be trying to add stuff slowly and surely each and every day to try to ease guys into learning a new system.

“We’re definitely not going to be our best at the beginning of the year. We expect to play hard and play well, but we’re going to be one of those teams that hopefully peaks at the right time at the end of the season heading into tournament time.”

West Holmes is the smallest school in the OCC based on enrollment, but Martin isn’t using that as an excuse for why his team might not win a league championship.

“The OCC is obviously a tough conference,” he said. “The thing and the mindset that we need to look at is we don’t care if a school has kids that are being recruited to play college basketball. We’re just as good as those kids. We work just as hard. We’re just as good skill-wise. We just need to have the mindset that we can win basketball games.

“Our goal is to win the league. We want to go into every game knowing that we’re going to have a chance going into the fourth quarter to win the basketball game. That’s our ultimate goal is to win the conference and then have a chance going into our district to win our district and keep winning basketball games.”

Martin said his football guys who also play basketball mixed with his basketball-only players make for a solid combination.

“The good thing about the football guys we have is they know how to win,” he said. “They know how to compete. And they’re going to bring that to the basketball court for us. We have some younger guys who have played AAU basketball against some great athletes, and they also know how to win. They’ve gone against great athletes. We just have a great mixture of football guys who are all good athletes and all-basketball guys who have played against good athletes and have good experience.

“We just have a good combination of guys who are getting along and like each other. I know as a coaching staff and as a team we’re excited about the things that can happen for us this year.”

The Knights will open the season at home against River View on Nov. 29.