The Transylvania Times -

2017 Basketball Preview: Tigers Look For Winning Combination Among New Players - Rosman, NC

 

December 11, 2017

Jeremiah Reed

The 2017 Rosman High School boys' basketball team.

In a year where the Rosman Tigers return the conference player of the year for his senior season, the biggest challenge facing head coach Josh Galloway might be figuring out a way to best assemble the pieces around his star player.

Any conversation about Rosman basketball revolves around senior standout Deland Thomas.

Last year, Thomas was the Smoky Mountain Conference Player of the Year, averaging 24.7 points and just shy of seven rebounds per game.

But despite Thomas returning, the Tigers lost four-year starter Harper Reese, who was third on the team in scoring and finished with 84 assists – roughly three times as many as any other player – in 2016.

So the coaching challenge for Galloway becomes how to assemble a lineup that best complements his senior standout.

Thomas is already off to an excellent start to his senior year, averaging 33 points and 10 rebounds per game, including a 42-point explosion in a win against Swain County.

Thomas has proven he can shoot from the outside, but this year, he's looked to get more penetration in the lane and use his 6'4", 195-pound frame to get buckets on the inside.

"Deland is a phenomenal player and puts the time in that allows him to be one of the best players in the conference. He has the ability to shoot the ball outside and has really worked this year on his ability to finish the ball at the rim," Galloway said.

Given the increased focus on driving the ball to the basket and finishing, Galloway said the Tigers were going to adjust their offense slightly more to a traditional half-court set to allow Thomas different looks with the ball.

"This season, we're going to try and provide him with more opportunities outside our traditional fast-breaks to put the ball in his hands. He has shown he can put points on the board and he's really working hard to be a positive team leader this year," he said.

While Thomas is undoubtedly Rosman's go-to player on offense, Galloway said it's not easy finding somebody as adept at the point guard position as Reese has been over the past four years.

Along with Neil Tesnow, Reese's departure means the Tigers enter the year with only four players – outside of Thomas – that saw significant playing time in 2016.

Galloway said he's been working on getting the pieces of the puzzle to fit in the right way, both in terms of who he starts and who comes off the bench down the stretch.

"Filling the void left by (Harper) is difficult and we're still trying to find our best lineup, and that's not just starters. We're trying to see what allows us to go deep into games – whether that's putting the best five players on the floor to start or doing some alternating on the starting lineup," he said.

Despite losing Reese to graduation, Rosman still has several players they can turn to for production.

The biggest will be Deland's younger brother, Hooper, who enters his sophomore season after finishing second in scoring with 14 points per game as a freshman.

Hooper is the Tigers' second-leading scorer again this season, averaging 11.3 points through the first three games.

There are also several role players the Tigers will look to for production.

Wes Whimire has taken over the point guard role in his senior season and is tied for a team-high nine assists on the year, while averaging eight points per game.

Fellow senior Blake Owen has started and come off the bench for relief this year at the guard position.

Marcus Stamey has been a welcome addition to the team, as he is curretnly fourth in scoring with nine points per game, behind Braeden Welyczko, who is averaging 9.7 points per game.

On the 14-player roster, 10 players are averaging more than 10 minutes of court time per night, so Galloway's ability to utilize his personnel will be a key part of the Tigers' success this year.

"Wes has really stepped up in the point guard role through these first three games. We've moved Blake to a bench position because he gives us a lot of depth. I'm very positive about this team's potential. The big thing is just findout out what works, and not just in the first quarter, but in the second quarter, the third quarter and ultimately in the fourth to finish out the game," Galloway said.

Last year, Rosman finished 19-8 for their most wins in a season in 10 years.

They finished third in the Big Smoky Mountain Conference and made it to the second round of the 1A playoffs.

The Tigers got a big early-season win last week with a three-point victory over Swain County, which won the SMC last season.

Galloway said he likes his teams chances looking ahead and expects to be at the top of the standings toward the end of January.

"I think we can compete with anybody in the conference. With the win against Swain, I think we've shown we are a contender for the top spot. Our ability to play more disciplined in the half-court set, both offensively and defensively, is really going to help and we should be able to put ourselves toward the top three spots in the conference," Galloway said.

 
 

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