2009-12-25 / Sports

Skyhawks’ expectations high

By Cathy Cobbs

Hammond’s Aaron Walters Hammond’s Aaron Walters With only five players returning to Hammond’s basketball team, one would think expectations for the season might be pretty low.

Not so, says head coach Jody Lumpkin, who called his plans for the team “tremendous.”

“We are hoping not only to have a successful year, but to build a foundation for the years to come.”

Lumpkin is counting on his two returning seniors, Mathew McClam and Aaron Walters, first and foremost.

“Both of these guys play forward or guard and provide us with experience, leadership, and all–around toughness,” he said.

Adding to the mix are returning junior players Hunter George, Dave Nidiffer, and Malachi Ware.

“Dave will take the reins of the team from the point guard role and set the tempo for us on offense,” Lumpkin said. “Hunter will set the tone of our defense, which will be the key to our success this year. Malachi will play inside, and we will count on him to control the paint against every team we play this year. “

The team also includes some newcomers, a list that surprisingly contains three seniors: Bryce James, Pat Hutchinson, and Kyle Towles. Two juniors, Jake Ayers and Brannan Hudson, have moved through the ranks to join the varsity squad. Rounding out the team are sophomores Max Hamilton, Andrew McClam, Brandon Picow, and Jackson Vause.

Lumpkin is implementing a motion offense that will “allow room for our perimeter players to create off the drive as well as give our post players room to work inside before a double team arrives.”

The defense is under development but will include “options on defense that will allow us to not only react to situations but also to dictate the tempo of the game and the kind of offense the opposing team plays,” Lumpkin said.

Lumpkin, a former Hammond school standout and graduate of the College of Charleston, said he’s looking for more than just wins from his rather inexperienced cagers.

“While they have great potential as basketball players, their potential as people of character is truly outstanding,” he said. “This is a very special group of students, and I am very happy to be working with them. “

Lumpkin, along with his coaching staff that includes George Simpson, Joe McEachearn, Rocky Hughey, and Jeff Parish, will put his team to the test on December 28, when Hammond participates in the Highlander Holiday Classic at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School.

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