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Lions approach upcoming season with optimism

South Boston News
Members of the Halifax County Middle School boys basketball team are, from left, first row, Drew Lester, Javion Featherston, Tyonta Logan, John Wells, Michael Spraggins and Ben Harris. Second row, scorekeeper Ty Cole, Jamal Brandon, Tremaine Chandler, Otis Slayton, Terrell Carden, Brayden Moore and manager Dakari Graves. Back row, are head coach W.J. Long, Cederic Jennings, Dashon Louden, Darius Robertson, Jordan Williams and assistant coach Justin Saunders.
SoVaNow.com / November 13, 2013
The Halifax County Middle School boys basketball team starts the season tonight, and coach W.J. Long has plenty of room for optimism.

“This year we are top heavy with eighth graders because we had some surprises in tryouts. We have quite a bit of height combined with athleticism, so hopefully we can utilize this into a positive season. We measure ourselves against Russell and the Danville teams,” said Long.

“We don’t have any returning starters from last year, but still we have a great nucleus of players to run onto the floor,” said Long.

The Lions hope to get eight or nine players contributing on a regular basis, and perhaps more.

Player thumbnails:

Cederick Jennings is a returner from last year and will be one of the leaders of the team. He can score in the paint as well as outside the paint. Jennings brings size to the lineup.

Javion Featherston is another returner from last year and will handle the point guard position. His job will be to run the offense and distribute the basketball.

Terell Carden is also returning and will be seeing time as a three or four man. Cardell has improved a good bit and is also a strong player.

Jordan Williams is also a returner and has also greatly improved. Williams can run the floor and attacks the rim. He is a tall, lanky player with solid skills. Williams is regarded as one of the leaders of the squad.

Dashon Louden recently moved to the area and is the tallest player on the team. Louden can knock down shots from the elbow and foul line area and score in the paint. He’s showing steady improvement.

Ben Harris is newcomer to the team and will provide solid minutes to the team. Harris is a smart player who plays within himself. He provides solid fundamentals and is a hard worker.

Brayden Moore is another newcomer to the team and is a hustle machine. Moore listens well and is very coachable. Long expects Moore to steadily improve and give the team quality minutes.

Darius Robertson, also a newcomer, brings a soft touch around the basket and the ability to give production in the paint. Robertson is a hard worker, has height and gives his best. Long believes he could see quite a bit of playing time.

Tyonta Logan is new to the team, coming straight off the football field where he played cornerback for Long on defense. Logan is a solid athlete and competitor, a hard worker, and will share time at the point guard position.

Jamal Bradon is also a newcomer to the team and like Logan, arrives from the gridiron. Bradon is very strong and athletic, attacks the rim, can handle the ball, and go to the glass. He’s expected to be one of the leaders and should provide quite a bit of production.

HCMS also several seventh graders who can contribute.

Drew Lester is returning to the team and has greatly improved. Long noted Lester has “grown some, and has good head on his shoulders.”

Lester “doesn’t try to do more than he is capable, takes care of the ball,” Long said.

Otis Slayton is also returning and played linebacker for the Lion defense this fall.

Slayton is athletic, aggressive and has good range. He has improved and will see time at the three spot.

John Wells is new to the team and will be assigned to the point guard position. Wells can get up and down the floor and dish.

Michael Spraggins is new and will see time at the two or three spot as well. Spraggins has a solid understanding of the game and is very coachable.

Tremaine Chandler is another football player coming to HCMS for the first time. Chandler has speed and strength and is steadily learing and improving.

“Overall, we have a solid team. Right now we are keeping things very simple and doing a load of cardio,” Long said.

Long hopes to run and force lots of transition baskets.

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