Titans’ boys basketball team ready to bounce back from disappointing 2018-19 season

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 12, 2019

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By Marc Pruitt
For the Clemmons Courier

A fresh perspective and plenty of new faces greeted the West Forsyth boys basketball team to start the 2019-20 season.

Kevin King, an assistant coach for last season’s team that finished 4-20 (2-8 CPC 4A), has taken the helm as the head coach and will put his wrinkles into an offensive and defensive system that likes to get up and down the floor for 32 minutes.

King said he looks forward to the challenge of meshing a team that is largely new and without a lot of varsity playing experience after losing seven seniors from last year’s team and a couple of transfers.

This is King’s fourth head-coaching stint — previous stops were at Wilkes Central, North Davidson and North Surry, his alma mater, where he compiled an 88-47 record, including a runner-up finish in the NCHSAA 2-A state tournament in 2017.

King was also an assistant coach for Howard West for a number of years at Reynolds and Reagan and was with West from 2000-02 when the Demons won three straight 4-A state titles.

King understands the challenges he faces and is eager to take them head-on.

“We are pretty much starting over from last year, but that’s not a reason we can’t compete night in and night out,” King said. “It will probably take this group a while to mesh because, as a whole, this is not a group that has ever player together. Some of them have played on various other teams together here and there, a few JV players have moved up. We’ll need to mold them together and see what we are capable of doing. Our first conference game isn’t until Jan. 10. That’s when I’d expect we’d have all our ducks in a row.”

King will rely on a few returning players to help make the early-season successful.

Tyler “Taco” Beckman, a senior guard, is one of the few returning varsity players with significant playing time and the only one who started some of the games from last season.

“He started in about half of our games and can play either guard position,” King said. “He’s a great shooter with a strong basketball IQ who has to be our leader because he was in the mix so much last year.”

K.J. Crenshaw, another senior and returning post player, gave the Titans some valuable minutes in spurts last season.

“K.J. is very athletic and can score around the rim, get us some rebounds, and play defense,” King said. “He is athletic and as quick as anyone on the team.”

Jerren Scott, another senior, played sparingly last season on the wing and is currently nursing a strained Achilles tendon, which has limited him in practice.

Two sophomores, Bralen Morris and Chris Mickens, will also be expected to step into larger roles this season.

“Bralen played as an undersized post player and his minutes picked up about mid-season,” King said. “He has been working on his perimeter game and will become a very good player. Chris is a fantastic kid who needs to learn that he has plenty of talent and develop a killer instinct. He may be the most talented player we have but needs to learn to be consistent and use his skills all the time.”

Jake Hill and Parker Nelson were two standouts on the JV team that finished 17-4 who King expects to help provide a spark in the backcourt.

“Jake was kind of the glue of that team and does a little bit of everything,” King said. “He could guard four to five positions on the floor last year and that is always helpful. I think Parker was the leading scorer on that team and the key for him will be bringing that same fire to the varsity level and maintaining consistency at the pace that is necessary.”

King is also working in several of the members of the football team, which he feels will give the team another dimension of athleticism.

“I think one of our biggest strengths will be our athleticism,” King said. “Especially when some of the football guys get their basketball legs and hands. Guys like G’mone Wilson, Zy Dillard and Jalen Ferguson should also be able to provide us with some ball handlers that can go all over the floor. Now, some of those guys haven’t played basketball since they were freshman, so it might take some time to get them back up to speed on some things. I definitely feel like they can help us do what we want to do.”

King doesn’t like to talk much about last year since that’s now in the past.

What he is focused on this season are things he know he and his team can control.

“We have been talking about what we can improve on and what we can control, and that’s our attitudes and how hard we work every day,” King said. “The season will come down to how well we take care of the ball, how well we play at our speed, and how quickly we can all come together around that. Last week in a loss to Mount Tabor, we played hard, but we didn’t necessarily play well because we are still getting things sorted out. We’ve got to get to the point where we play hard and we play well.”