CCHS boys basketball team: (Seniors)- Austin Brock, Bo Bryson, Briar Jakes, Austin Martin; (Juniors)- Preston Campbell, Anton Knox, Maika Fonoti; (Sophomores)- Austin Duggin, Trey Fann, Cole George, Dale Thompson, Lane Willis; (Freshman)- Alex Clark, Marcus Gannon, Dakota Glenn, Dalton Hillis, Tyler Lance, Brandon Miles, Charlie Parrish, Landon Parton, Jacob Raines, Brady Sissom, Isaac Smith, Ty St. John, Justin Whited. Managers: Bailey Sims and Branden Schwarts. Head Coach: Matt Rigsby; Assistants: Matt Cagle, Colin Jones and Jared Nave
BY DAVID HOOVER
Will this be the season the Lions break through and advance to state for the first time since 1985? The Cannon County boys' basketball team hopes so but it will have to replace over 90 percent of their scoring from last season and also find a replacement for their point guard who suffered a season-ending injury during football season.
"We need kids to get better and grow up faster, and they will do that," Lions head Coach Matt Rigsby said during Media Day on Friday, October 30th.
Last season, CCHS finished 28-6, 14-1, but fell in the sub state game to Chattanooga Brainerd. Now the Lions are using this as motivation to finally end that drought as they opened practice last week.
"It will take teamwork and effort, and everybody needs to play ball," Lions senior Briar Jakes said.
Lions junior Anton Knox added, "I think it is extra pressure, because we got farther the past two years with over 25 wins, and I feel like it is time to go to state."
In order to achieve this goal, the Lions will have to replace District and Region MVP Josh Ruehlen, AJ Daniel, Jacob Nave, and the McReynolds twins: Garrett and Marshall, all who have since graduated, and senior starting point guard Austin Brock who has been lost for the season due to a football injury.
"We are going to need a lot of younger guys to step up to fill the injuries from our point guard," Knox said. "We got to move the ball around and play defense."
The Lions will rely on seniors Jakes, Bo Bryson and Austin Martin along with juniors Knox, Preston Campbell and Maika Fonoti to power the Lions' efforts to repeat the success of last year.
"Each season is a fresh start," Rigsby said. "Basketball is such a team sport. Each team is going to be new, different and fresh. We want to build on our tradition, and it is nice to say that CCHS boys' basketball has it back. I am proud of the guys for getting that back."
Once again, the district is loaded with talent and good teams, according to Rigsby, including a York squad who returned everybody and handed the Lions their only district loss of the regular season last year.
"As usual, District 8AA basketball is going to be really tough," Rigsby said.