FBCS fills team with youth

Published 11:09 pm Thursday, November 8, 2012

A young varsity boys’ basketball team at First Baptist Christian is hoping to grow more comfortable on the court and in the win column this season.

With fewer students to pull from, the Crusaders’ varsity squad features would-be junior varsity players that have had to step up. For the 2012-13 season, First Baptist Christian fields only a junior-junior varsity and varsity team.

The Crusaders had only one win last season, which was head coach Ron Carr’s first year with the varsity team. His experience from last year and what he has seen in the current preseason has encouraged him.

The First Baptist Christian varsity boy’s basketball team prays before beginning preseason practice on Thursday evening. The Crusaders’ coaches are aiming to instill confidence in a young squad that has accumulated some good experience from last season.

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“We look promising this year,” he said. “They played hard last year. They had a lot of heart, and that’s what we coach.”

Assistant coach Terry Leiter said the biggest challenge facing the Crusaders will be helping the players who have knowledge and experience to also have a corresponding confidence on the court.

“Sometimes it takes a couple years of playing just to get past the nervous jitters when you get the ball,” Leiter said. “You’re not just panicked, thinking, ‘I need to get rid of it quickly.’”

Carr and Leiter are trying to create an atmosphere in practice in which players are not afraid to hold onto the ball, even if it means they make a mistake. Leiter explains the desired mindset.

“Accept the fact that they’re going to be putting pressure on you, let them get close to you, and then pass,” he said.

Leiter explained that there are expectations of every member of the team, but particularly some of the elder players like senior center/forward Clint Byrd.

“We’re expecting to see a lot of rebounds from him, a lot of put-back points,” Leiter said. “And he’s always been a strong defensive presence. So, we’re looking forward to that for him.”

Junior Noah Nickert is expected to be another big presence down low with Byrd.

“We’ll try not to … play the two of them down low continuously, because we’re going to have to sub-in, because they’re going to get tired,” Leiter said. “So some of the younger guys are going to have to kind of get in there and mix it up, too.”

Leiter plans to use freshman Steven Effler at forward, because he has such great size.

The Crusaders do not lack for expectations at guard.

“Matt Snead, in particular, this being his senior year, I’m really looking forward to him having a good year, to get out there and score some points and handle the ball for us,” Leiter said. “(Senior) Nate VanDorn, same thing.”

First Baptist Christian plays its first game of the season next Tuesday at home against Victory Christian School.