There is a new sheriff in town this year as far as Altoona-Midway High School boys’ basketball is concerned.
But that doesn’t mean the players will be turning over their firearms at the entrance to the gymnasium. On the contrary, new AMHS boys’ head coach Justin Logan wants his Jet players to have their pistols fully loaded and ready to win some shootouts with their opponents this season.
Granted, that may be a difficult role to fulfill – Altoona-Midway was winless in 20 games last season has not made a trip to the state tournament since 1992, and Logan is making his debut as a head coach at the varsity level.
But Logan, who previously served as an assistant coach for Northern Heights High School before accepting the AMHS job, is definitely not lacking in enthusiasm or optimism – and he is expecting that same attitude from his players.
“This is my first season here, so prior to the beginning of practice, my total experience with these young men has been some summer workouts and one week of summer camp,” Logan noted. “What I can tell you from what I’ve seen thus far though is that we have some athleticism here at Altoona-Midway, but a lot of raw, green talent when it comes to overall basketball skill - and a lot of that is simply due to the fact that we are a team flooded with underclassmen.”
Logan said he expects that young, raw talent to improve each week as the season progresses, and he expects them to develop a cohesive, positive team outlook.
“What I expect from this group this season is to see that raw, green talent develop a little more every night out. I am expecting to watch them start becoming the basketball players that their athletic ability gives them the capabilities to be,” Logan said.
The Jets return four starters from last year’s 0-20 squad (0-10 in the Three Rivers League). On an even better note, Logan isn’t projecting all four of them to start this season. That prediction is based on a lot of young talent being added to the roster, as well as the return of 6-2 junior Clement Huffman, who returns after missing last season due to a torn ACL.
The Jets welcome back 5-10 sophomore Dawson Ashmore, the leading scorer a year ago; as well as 5-11 sophomore Caden Carter, the leading rebounder last season.
Other returning starters back are 5-10 sophomore Wyatt Nalley and 5-9 senior Ian Faller, who was voted team captain along with Ashmore.
“When your peers vote on you to be their leader it is not something to be taken lightly and I fully expect Dawson and Ian to do a great job in this role - whether it’s on the court or off the court,” Logan said.
Among the new young talent that has caught the coach’s eye already is 5-9 freshman Josh Meigs, who could slip into the starting lineup. Sophomores Dayton Marsh (6-2) and Jimmy Willard (5-8) will also compete for playing time.
Two other seniors dot the Jets roster, Jesse Bauer and Skylar Roby; as well as underclassmen Corey Dannels, Hunter Sade, Hunter Whittlake, and Kendall Pierce.
“I’m telling you, I think the athleticism this group holds will be extremely fun to watch as the year progresses,” Logan exclaimed. “And another thing - it’s nice to look down the roster and see all this young talent that will be coming back for future seasons as well.
“I expect this group to work hard all season and begin the process of putting our #NEWBRAND out there on display. Some of these kids have been through some struggles in athletics, and I admire their heart and work ethic,” Logan noted. “The first thing I noticed was that these kids are sick of losing, and they’re willing to do whatever it takes to turn this thing around.”
The Jets open the 2017-18 season on Friday, Dec. 1, when they travel to Hartford.