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BENNETT: LKC boys will crown new POY

Everyone in the Mountain State continues to hold out hope a winter sports season indeed will happen.

Staying on the positive side this actually will be the case means roundballs on the hardwood should start bouncing soon.

I for one am more than ready to cover basketball in West Virginia, but it’s definitely been a blessing to at least be able to take in some action in the Buckeye State.

Looking at the Little Kanawha Conference, a new player of the year for boys will be crowned after Braxton County senior Jadyn Stewart earned that accolade a season ago.

After talking with a few LKC coaches about this year’s potential race for the league’s top honor, it seems a clear pecking order is in place.

Expected to lead the charge are Williamstown senior teammates Sam Cremeans and Xavier Caruthers, St. Marys junior Grant Barnhart as well as Roane County senior Brayden Miller.

Cremeans was the runner-up to Stewart in the LKC POY race last season and grabbed a first team Class A all-state nod along with Barnhart.

Meanwhile, Caruthers was a second team all-state honoree as was Miller, whose 21.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and Mid-Ohio Valley best 5.9 assists per game allowed him to make the Class AA all-state second unit.

Of course, those four guys might lead the way on paper, but anything can happen during the course of a season.

The Ritchie County duo of Graden McKinney and Ethan Haught also have to be considered in the mix.

Reigning LKC Coach of the Year Scott Sauro from Williamstown also pointed out Webster County junior Rye Gadd, who was a third team Class A all-state selection after averaging 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3 steals an outing.

“I have seen him. He’s really good. I really like him,” Sauro said of the Highlander.

There are likely several other ballers who should be included and two of them could be Parkersburg Catholic’s Xavier Collie and Clay County’s Colten Pritt.

“The Pritt kid is a pretty big threat on the offensive end, especially if you don’t get a hand in his face. He’ll knock them down,” admitted second-year Calhoun County head coach Marcus Davis of Pritt, who averaged 16 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.3 dimes and better than 2 steals a game.

Coach Sauro admitted he definitely knows players better in the LKC West, but noted “there’s some good players on the East.”

Turning the clock back to last year, Williamstown had a 24-1 record and not only was ranked atop the final Associated Press poll, but also had the No. 1 seed for the state tournament which never was.

“It obviously makes our jobs a little bit easier as coaches,” Sauro quipped of having two of the best players in the LKC. “These are a couple guys who can go hunt points and they’ve really worked on being able to create their own shot.

“In basketball, coaches like to draw up plays, but more often than not a play breaks down and when a play breaks down you better have guys who can go hunt points. Seriously, those guys can both do that, create their own shot and shoot from range.”

The ‘Jacket boss continued “they are good at the foul line. That is what’s really good about those kids. A guy like Grant Barnhart is the same way. He can go create.

“Sometimes it’s really important just because they are creating it doesn’t mean they are going to be the guy with the shots. Sometimes when a play breaks down the help comes and they find the next man and that’s as valuable as anything.”

Which player eventually will emerge as the top dog in the LKC definitely will be something to watch.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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