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hoopspreview HVA boys more seasoned, stronger, wiser

Winless last season in its first-ever trek into high school varsity basketball, Hardin Valley Academy’s boys are “bigger, we’re stronger, we’re faster and we’re more experienced,” second-year head coach Keith Galloway said.

“I can see us being able to compete in a majority of our games, and win some games,” Galloway added. “All of our guys have gotten better on defense.

Also, “We’re going to be pretty deep,” he said, adding many starting positions will depend on “who practices the hardest.”

However, “Two of our bigger guys are injured,” Galloway said. “And we’re not a big team.”

Nathan Garner, 6-foot-3 senior forward and one of the team’s best shooters, broke his right shooting arm in September but “should be back sometime in December.”

Garner said, “I think our team has improved significantly.”

Also out indefinitely is Tevin Gunn, a 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Galloway said is “probably our most athletic big man ... tough to keep off the boards.”

Dominic Ratliff, senior shooting guard and leading Hawks scorer last season, “Has been shooting it really well in pre-season. He attacks the basket well, he’s under control, and he sees the court a lot better this year.”

Ratliff said, “We’ve gotten a lot stronger ... and we have a better IQ about the game.”

Senior starting forward Justin Wakefield “is a good defender,” Galloway said. D.J. Kellogg, a junior point guard and West transfer slated to start, “Is very quick, great defender,” Galloway said. “Handles the ball well, distributes it well.”

Hunter Smoak, 6-foot junior power forward, “Has been solid for us over the summer and preseason,” Galloway said about this returning starter. “He guards well ... he can play any position.”

Smoak said, “We now know what it takes to put a whole game together.”

V.J. Brown, sophomore guard, “Has worked his tail off all summer to get where he’s at.” A. J. Leverett, 6-foot-2 junior starting post, “Can guard the other team’s big man.”

Sherrius Smith, sophomore guard, “Was the leading scorer in a couple of games last year. He can shoot it, and he plays hard.”

Other players are sophomore guard Jonathan Franklin, senior guard Jordan Greenlee, 6-foot-7 sophomore center Daniel Dedrick, senior guard Mike Jones, junior guard Dwayne Tucker and senior forward Devon Burton.


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