Sports

Can Forester Basketball Shock the NAIA in 2019-2020?

By Ryan Walker, Staff Writer

Just last season, Huntington’s men’s basketball team finished seventh out of ten teams in the tough Crossroads League ⁠— a league that featured five ranked teams, three final four participants, and the national champion, Spring Arbor. For a team with a winning record to finish seventh, that’s rough. 

With the departure of Zac Owens, James Gardner, and Tyler Arens, it seems that Huntington will struggle and naturally be worse than last season. But the team believes that this might not be the case, despite the preseason poll ranking them ninth.

The Foresters added pieces to the puzzle for the 2019-2020 season, including freshman Klajd Kiri, Huntington’s own Hank Pulver, and transfer Lewis Wang from the University of Maine. Sophomore point guard Peyton West shared his thoughts on the freshman, 

“Clyde can block shots, rebound, and dunk,” West said, “He will be one of our more exciting players. Hank is one of the better defenders on the team and is one of the most underrated parts to his game and is an excellent passer.” 

West said that sophomore pair Spencer Ballinger and Andrew Johnson had made significant changes to their game that will have impactful minutes for the Foresters this season. 

Regarding the additions to this year’s team, who could forget the Crossroads League freshman of the year, Caleb Middlesworth, and the talented of Konnor Platt. The elite duo provided the Foresters with a chunk of their points ⁠— good for first and third on the team. Looking at the roster, it seems like Huntington has a lot of talent and depth to compete in the Crossroads League this year

How do they deal with adversity? 

“We got predicted ninth in the Crossroads League,” Kiri said. “We just put that up there in the locker room to use it as motivation to go out to the court and practice hard. We think we’re not number nine.” 

The anger and motivation to get better every day is what the team is taking away from the whole situation rather than accepting the predicted fate. This team seems to have the love for another and a hunger to prove people’s expectations wrong. 

West firmly pushed the element of team chemistry, something the team seemed to struggle with last season. One of the critical factors in sports teams to outperform talent is chemistry, and this team has it this season. Before and after practice, the team will hang out in the locker room, and they spent a month over the summer together practicing and being on campus to build a bond that is stronger this season.     

Huntington should be fun to watch this season with the new additions to the team, the improvements and the returning players that were all-league honors a season ago. They might be the sleeper team in the Crossroads that nobody is watching, and we’re hoping for that flip the script season.

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