BRIDGEPORT - With only five returning lettermen, three of which are seniors, Bridgeport boys' coach Donnie Cash is optimistic about the season.
Two of those returnees are sophomores who saw some action last season.
The seniors include Dallas Fields (5-foot-10), Jonathan Kreiter (5-11) and Aaron Roth (6-0). The sophomores are Bailey McGrath (5-6) and QJ Williams (6-1).
''I like how we are working so far,'' Cash said. ''The kids' attitudes have been great, which is always a plus. However, we have a lot of unknowns coming into this season.''
One of which is who will take over the scoring leadership with the graduation of Cole Smelley (14.2) and Cody Frey (9.3)?
''We definitely need some of the kids to step up their games this year,'' Cash, who is entering his eighth season, said. ''We lost a lot of our scoring last season with the graduation of Cole and Colt, so we're looking for our three seniors to provide us with some of that.''
Fields leads the returnees with 7 points per game, while Roth and Kreiter averaged five.
''Dallas is our leading returning scorer and rebounder,'' Cash said. ''He started last year and is a three-year letterman. He was named captain this year and we're looking for a lot of senior leadership from him.
''We're also looking for him to do a little more for us this season. So far he's been alright.''
Kreiter will be counted on to do more, as well.
''Ryan is a pretty good shooter, but he needs to expand his game more,'' Cash said. ''He needs to more than just a shooter and do other things at both ends of the floor.''
Ditto that for Roth.
''Aaron is a hustler, but like Jonathan, he needs to broaden his game and take on some additional roles,'' Cash said. ''He works hard in practice and is a capable shooter. He is a pretty good defender and does the little things that don't show up in the box score that help make the team better.''
McGrath and Williams will hopefully use the experience they got last year to further their games this winter.
''They both played quite a bit, with QJ getting a little more time, but they will be counted on to do more this year,'' Cash said. "We're going to ask QJ to really step up and help us with scoring and rebounding, while Bailey will continue to get more minutes if he does the little things right.
''Bailey is a pretty good shooter from the perimeter, while QJ has really matured over the year.''
The lone junior on the squad is Bailey Sieber (6-3).
''He will compete for time in the middle,'' Cash said. ''He's a good-sized, hard-nosed kid that is getting better every day. He has improved a lot since his freshman season and will contribute solid minutes for us off the bench.''
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Parker Dyson, Robert Teaman and JC Cash.
''Our bigs are really working hard inside,'' Cash said of the 6-5 Dyson and 6-2 Teaman. ''I'd say Parker would have the edge right now, but that can change any day. He has come a long way over the summer and the work he's put in in the weight room has paid off. He's getting better every day.''
"Robert is a little under-sized in the post, but he's a banger in there," Cash added. "He gives 100 percent and can play on the perimeter if we need him to. He's one of those kids that do whatever you ask him to and, as a coach, you can't ask for more than that.
"JC has a chance to pick up some minutes."
He's looked good in camp
Cash said his philosophy hasn't changed from season to season.
"We want to be 1-0 every day and get better as the season goes on,"
he stressed. "We need to take small steps every day in practice to
get better, and hopefully that will translate into wins.
"We've got a lot of unknowns and probably won't know what some of the
kids are capable of until after the scrimmages."
As far as the schedule goes, the Bulldogs have picked up a second
game with Bellaire and Steubenville Central to complete the 22-game
"It's basically the same schedule that we're been playing for a
couple of seasons now," Cash said. "It's going to be competitive."
Home-and home contests will be played against Shadyside, Barnesville,
Toronto, River, Frontier, Weirton Madonna and Cameron.
The Bulldogs will also help Beallsville unveil its new gymnasium on
"We kind of know what they are going through and thinking," Cash
said. "They were our opponent when we opened our gym (John Havlicek
Gymnasium), so we're approaching it as we're going to make history or
we're going to be history. Hopefully it's the first."
Cash is assisted by Rick Yourkovich, Greg Harkness, Jeff Herink and
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org