By Steve Keenan
The 2012-13 Fayette County basketball coaching roster is full of fresh faces, as five new coaches will join five holdovers in guiding the county’s high school teams.
Here is a capsule look at the new coaches:
Richie Cantrell, Valley girls
Cantrell replaces veteran Marshall Murray at the helm for the VHS girls.
He coached basketball and baseball in Summers County for several years, in addition to being a Class I WVSSAC official for 14 years, before starting to spend more time with his business, Cantrell Ultimate Rafting in Fayetteville. Cantrell, who teaches special education at Valley, has degrees in physical education and business.
“I thought we had pretty good talent here,” Cantrell said of his desire to seek the Valley job. “I’ve enjoyed it.
“Obviously, my expectations are pretty high. I don’t like to lose. We’ve got a lot of girls that are in tune with winning. We’ve been working them out pretty good. I’m very optimistic.”
He likens sports to the rafting industry and other businesses. “The rafting industry, as with basketball, as with life, you get out of it what you put into it.”
Justin Hough, Oak Hill girls
“I wanted to be more active in the school and get involved,” said Hough, a special education teacher at Oak Hill High who will be in his first year of coaching. “The girls job definitely seemed challenging.”
The Red Devils will have “a really young squad,” said Hough, 27, a Fayetteville High and WVU graduate.
Fourteen of his 20 girls are freshmen, including two who are expected to be in the starting lineup.
“Practice has gone pretty well,” he said. “It’s been real interesting so far.”
Hough replaces Pat Bay.
Todd Mann, Fayetteville boys
Mann will be another first-time high school head coach in the county this winter. He filled in as Larry Spangler’s assistant last year when Jimmy Ballard had to be away from the team due to a family illness. Spangler retired in September.
A player on James Monroe’s semifinal tournament team in 1996, Mann has served as an assistant at his alma mater as well as at Mercer Christian, the latter during a state tournament year. He has also worked with the Concord and Bluefield College programs. At Bluefield, the 2008-09 squad went 27-7, earned a national ranking of No. 7 and advanced to the NAIA Division II national tournament.
“I’m just trying to get our boys to have a positive attitude,” said Mann, in his third year as a special education teacher at FHS, as well as serving as the school’s athletic director. “We’ve got a great bunch of kids.
“We want to get people to come out and watch.”
Mann says the Pirates will make the change from a half-court offense to a “transitional, full-court offense.” “We’re showing progress,” he added.
He also hopes to have Ben Argento Basketball League games at halftime of the boys contests.
“I’m running this program like a business,” Mann said. “You have to do things the right way.
“We have to have pride.”
Curtis Miller, Midland Trail boys
“We’re getting there,” said Miller, a 2003 Midland Trail graduate who served as Greg Crist’s assistant for four years before being elevated upon Crist’s resignation last winter. “We have 26 out, which is the most we’ve had out.”
When he was hired, Miller indicated his teams would likely play a little more free-wheeling style.
The Patriots will be seeking their fourth straight state tournament appearance when they begin the regular season on Dec. 12 at Greenbrier West.
Walt Raines, Oak Hill boys
Raines, a 1979 Kermit High graduate who has spent the majority of his coaching career in Virginia, says his first week of practice with the Red Devils went pretty well.
“The worst thing is cutting kids,” said Raines, who steps in after veteran coach Fred Ferri, who led Oak Hill to back-to-back Class AA state crowns. Of the 43 players who came out, 23 will be kept for varsity and jayvee action.
“I think the kids are enjoying our style of play,” he said. “I’m really happy to be here and with the guys we have.
“It’s all about learning, and they’re working hard.”
Players from the Red Devils’ Class AAA playoff football team have been among those making early contributions. “They had a great season, and they’ve just stepped right in. They’re leaders.”
Holdover varsity coaches in the county include Mark Gladwell (boys) and Steve Taylor (girls) at Meadow Bridge, Cynthia Hedrick (girls) at Midland Trail, John Mark Kincaid (girls) at Fayetteville and Joe McCoy (boys) at Valley.
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