STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – In high school basketball there is constant turnover of players due to graduation, and for Clarion-Limestone and head coach Joe Ferguson in 2021 that is no exception as the Lions lost four players who played key roles in their 21-6 season in 2020. Despite the loss of players Ferguson feels he and assistant coach B.J. Wrhen are up to the challenge for this upcoming season to have his guys ready to compete.
(Article by Steve Smail. Photo of C-L’s Hayden Callen, who was named the KSAC boys’ basketball MVP. Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa’s work here)
The Lions do return two players who will be relied on heavily while the younger guys learn the ropes. Senior Hayden Callen averaged just under 20 points per game with a 19.9 average last season. Sophomore Jordan Hesdon added a 6.2 points per game average.
Besides the four seniors lost, C-L will also be without the services of Bryson Huwar whom head coach Joe Ferguson was going to rely on with his rebounding skills. Huwar had offseason surgery and hasn’t been cleared to play. Bryant Smith will also not play this season and Ferguson was hoping his quickness would help this season.
“Besides losing our seniors it is a big blow to us not having Bryson and Bryant coming into this season,” said Ferguson. “I still think we have a number of quality players, but we just lack that varsity experience. We should be fine at the junior varsity level, but seeing these younger guys going up against upperclassmen of some of these other teams is going to be a challenge.”
Asked about the difficulties dealing with practice starting and stopping Ferguson replied, “It resets everything and everybody. It also catches up a team like Redbank Valley who hadn’t had any practices yet. The frustration is there for everyone. We’ll just take advantage of what we have now and hopefully things will continue without any more interruption. It’s just good for these kids to get back out on the floor and play again.”
Two other seniors who figure to log a lot of playing time are Braden Rankin who scored 47 points in 24 games while Hayden Siegel who chipped in with 11 points in 17 games.
“I don’t have a starting five penciled in yet, but I’d say Hayden Callen and Jordan Hesdon will most likely be two starters,” said Ferguson. “Everyone else is really close as far as what they can bring to the team. In some respects, with mask wearing thing while playing could be an advantage for us. We’ll be able to rotate more guys in without missing too much when different guys are out on the floor. With Braden Rankin and Hayden Siegel being two other seniors, we have, those two will figure in the mix to possibly start. Tommy Smith, a freshman has been looking pretty good as well in practices so far”
With the team being so young and with the mask wearing while playing Ferguson feels that is going to take away from what some of his plans were especially defensively. “We were thinking we were going to have a young and quick lineup which would allow us to do some different things on defense,” said Ferguson. “Now with the kids having to wear masks while playing and not having Bryson and Bryant that is going to probably change some things for us.”
“The expectations might change, but our goals still remain the same regardless,” said Ferguson. “We still want to challenge for the KSAC and a District title. We want to make the PIAA playoffs depending on how they are going to do things this year. We just want the kids to go out and compete as hard as they can and have fun which is the most important thing.”
Seniors: Hayden Callen, Braden Rankin, Hayden Siegel
Juniors: Nate Megnin
Sophomores: Ryan Hummell, Jordan Hesdon, Alex Painter, Christian Sarvey, Riley Klingensmith, John Burke
Freshmen: Jack Callen, Jack Craig, Ty Rankin, Tommy Smith.