By TIM BIRNEY
Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — Brian Card has guided Tioga into the postseason in each of his three years on the sidelines, but will field a very young team in 2019-20 and views it as a possible re-building year.
(Tioga opens the 2019-20 campaign tonight at home against Candor.)
“My goal for these guys is to get better every single game, every single week.
“This year is going to be a building year,” said Card. “We have three sophomores and an 8th-grader on varsity, and two of those sophomores and the 8th-grader will probably be starting for me.
“There will be a lot of growing pains and learning,” noted Card. “Hopefully, we can get better by the end of the season, and carry that on into next season because we have a lot of good kids in the 8th-grade and sophomore classes.
“If we’re playing good at the end of the year, maybe we can get around that 8-game win mark, maybe we can get into Sectionals again this year,” he added.
Following another extended football season, Card has had his entire team together for just five practices and two scrimmages. Senior Thomas Cook, who will eventually start at forward will miss the first two games after suffering a knee injury midway through the football season.
“We will run a four-guard offense until we get Thomas Cook back up to speed,” said Card. “Once he is back, we’ll monitor his minutes early in the season.”
Sophomore Casey Stoughton will play the point for the Tigers, with 8th-grader Ethan Perry at the 2-guard, and sophomore Gavin Godfrey at the 3-guard.
Senior Sam Taylor, the lone returning starter, will play forward, but will also help bring the ball up the floor. Senior Caleb Allen will start at forward.
Junior forward Derrick Gage will be the first guy off the bench, while sophomore Isaac Peterson will swing between guard and forward depending who else is on the floor, and junior Jerrick Allen will see time at forward.
Card looks at this team and sees a few strengths.
“Right now, our strength is going to be our athleticism and our speed because we don’t have the size to match-up with most teams.
“This group is also very coachable, said Card. “In year’s past, I’ve had skill players, but they weren’t willing to do the little things like boxing out, and hustling after a loose ball. This team is doing those things, so I’m excited to see what will happen with a team that will do those little things.”
With a lack of size, Card said the Tigers will be looking to create tempo.
“Once we get into game shape, we’ll be able to push the ball on offense, and get after people on defense, tying to create some sort of disruption.
“If we sit back in a 2-3 or in straight-up man, we’re probably going to get burned all season long,” said Card. “Other teams will just find the mismatch with their size, and just pound the ball there.
“Hopefully, we can create disruptions and use our athletes to our advantage,” Card added.
Card also has some concerns about this team.
“My biggest concern right now is our game shape,” he said. “We scrimmaged Owego (Tuesday) and after the first three minutes, we were dragging. We were struggling to get up-and-down the court, much less play offense and defense.
“Once we get into game shape, my concern will be getting rebounding the ball, but if these guys box out, and do the little things they’re suppose to, hopefully that will take care of it,” he added.
ON THE IAC SOUTH SMALL SCHOOL: “I think the team to beat in our division is Newfield,” said Card. “They return every starter from last year, and they made a nice run in the postseason.
“Candor is going to be very good as well,” he noted. “They have a lot of size, and solid guard play. (Coach) Nate Thomas has done an excellent job there. They won the JV championship the last two years, and those kids are now on varsity, along with Nick Thomas, who has been on varsity since 7th-grade.
“If S-VE gets (Noah) Mack back, they will be very good,” added Card. “O-M brings everybody back except for Zach Elliott, and they have a lot more kids on their roster this year. I think they’ll be improved.”
IN PHOTO: Tioga’s Sam Taylor.
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