Frankfort basketball excited for new look, new year
By Chapin Jewell
SHORT GAP - On Tuesday and then Wednesday, Columbia Blue and Silver clad basketball players, both boys and girls, gathered in the “new look” gym at Frankfort High School for the official start of basketball season in Short Gap.
Like their counterparts at the opposite end of Mineral County, it had been nearly a full year since sanctioned WVSSAC basketball has been played for the Falcons.
As such, there was a tremendous amount of excitement and optimism for those assembled to finally get started after what has been a long winter’s wait. Excitement to get started in general, and some additional added excitement as the change in basketball classifications has given Frankfort a different look in terms of competition than in year’s past.
All in all, for Frankfort girls’ coach Mike Miller and Frankfort boys’ coach Scott Slider, both liked what they saw in terms of energy and enthusiasm on days one and two.
According to Miller, “It went good. A lot of the girls have been playing in the off season, so, it wasn’t too much of a shock to them body wise. So, everybody seemed like they were in pretty good shape coming in, which is always a plus. We didn’t have to focus on drills and conditioning too much, because we don’t have long to prepare for the season. That was a plus.”
“I was very happy and pleased with what I’ve seen yesterday and today with it being our first practices. Some of them have been caged up, so to speak, so they are excited, happy and ready to go,” Miller stated. “Actually, I think in terms of conditioning, they are ahead of things. There are no injuries, I’m pretty tickled with where they are.”
According to Slider, for the boys, “I would say that the first night went exactly like we thought it would. There was a lot of energy from the kids, because they haven’t been on the court, haven’t been active together for a full year basketball wise, now we’re back at it. There’s a lot of energy, there is a lot of enthusiasm, especially knowing the new format with classification and everything. There’s a lot of excitement here.”
“The skills are always a little rough coming in on the first day, but we saw good things. Communication skills were great, we have great leaders, probably some of the best leaders I’ve coached are in this group here,” Slider stated. “It was a good first day, by no means is it going to be the best practice of the season, but it was a great first day.”
There is reason for optimism on both the boys and girls’ squads as both have returning players with experience. There is additional reason for optimism as gone are some traditional opponents like Fairmont Senior and several of the larger schools. With Frankfort remaining in class AA and those schools elevating to class AAA for basketball, competitively things are different, it’s a new look for sure.
According to Slider, “We have three or four of our seniors who played a significant amount of minutes last year on a very good team. So, that is definitely a bonus. But, there are a lot of unknowns. We don’t know who is going to be our scoring leaders. We know who our vocal leaders are, but we’re ready to see who is going to step up on the court and contribute.”
“COVID has put us in a situation where there are no Maryland schools, so our schedule looks completely different anyway. We’re playing Hedgesville twice, Spring Mills twice, so we’re playing teams that we haven’t really played in the past, big AAA, well now AAAA teams, and that’s a big deal for us. But we had to get games to fill our schedule,” Slider explained.
“Now, when it comes to our section and our region, we are excited about that. Last year there were 11 teams, this year there are only six. So, two teams out of 11made it to the state tournament last year, now it’s two teams out of six that will make it,” Slider stated. “So, the odds are definitely up, and that’s for everybody across the board, everything is smaller so your chance of getting there is better.”
According to Slider, “I see us finishing well in our section, I feel like we have the potential to be the number one seed in our section, and I feel like we could win our first round game, and host the regional game here. There’s a lot of optimism.”
Miller echoes those sentiments for the Lady Falcons, both in terms of the team’s outlook and in terms of the new makeup of the competition.
“With the reclassification that went on, it’s no secret that we don’t have Fairmont Senior or North Marion to compete against. They’ve been a competitive thorn in our side, and I would think that for them, we haven’t been an easy out, so having them gone opens the door up for us. There are some new teams that we are unsure about, like Braxton County, that we’ll have to learn, but things will be much different,” Miller stated.
According to Miller, “We like where we are as a team first, and we still think that we’re going to be the team that everyone wants to beat, and we want to continue that tradition here. That means we’re doing the right things, that the girls are being taught the game of basketball the right way, and that we’re always going to compete and be competitive. We’re hoping that these teams will worry about us and not the other way around.”
“Hopefully the weather gets straightened out and the COVID thing lightens up, and people practice their social distancing and doesn’t come in contact with anyone that has it. As long as everybody is honest about washing their hands and doing things the right way, it seems like we are actually headed in the right direction. In fact, we’re in the green now.”
So, there is optimism in Short Gap, not just because both the boys and girls will be fielding quality, competitive teams, but also because the change in classification is more of a benefit than it is a hindrance for the Falcons.
For now, like at Keyser, the folks at Frankfort are just happy to be back on the court and viewing the upcoming season with optimism.