‘New look’ Chargers host NHS Friday
|Freshman forward Ryheem Lockley was a standout on last year’s JV team and, at 6’4”, should give Middlesex a strong inside presence. Above, Lockley is about to go strong to the hoop in Monday’s scrimmage against Washington & Lee. (Photo by Tom Hardin)|
|Senior guard Michael Bess has been starting since his freshman year and will be counted on to lead the Chargers. Above, Bess drives through traffic in Monday’s scrimmage against Washington & Lee. (Photo by Tom Hardin)|
New head coach Patrick Weller, a former longtime assistant coach at Bridgewater College, brings a new system to the Chargers’ basketball program and he has been impressed with his team’s intensity and effort.
“We have a very athletic and quick team,” said Weller. “The competition has been intense in practice and playing time is up for grabs. Whoever performs well in practice and follows that up in the games will play.
“We are deep in talent but we don’t have a lot of size,” said Weller. “I would expect us to improve as the season progresses and the players get used to a new coach and a new system. I’ve been pleased with the team’s work ethic. They’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do.”
Among the returnees from last year’s 5-16 squad is senior guard Michael Bess (5’11”), who has started since his freshman year and made second team All-Tidewater District the past two seasons.
“I’m counting on Michael to be a leader on and off the court,” said Weller.
“I like Coach Weller’s system a lot,” said Bess. “All the guys are picking up on what he wants us to do and I’m excited to see how it works in games.”
Junior Cody Hunter (6’3”) returns at forward. Last year Hunter showed improvement throughout the season. “Cody’s been playing very well,” said Weller.
Forward Markus Hammond (6’0”) and guard Sean Sutherlin (5’7”) were top reserves last year and return for their senior season. “Markus has good athletic ability and Sean is a good leader on the court,” said Weller.
Seniors Scott Payne (6’2”) and Tayvon Mourning (6’7”) return and should see playing time in the front court.
Davonne Bryant (5’7”), a top reserve last year, is battling fellow juniors Kris Baylor (5’10”) and Jasper Smith (5’10”) for playing time in the back court.
Freshman forward Ryheem Lockley (6’4”) was the top scorer on last year’s JV team and has been impressive in the pre-season. “Ryheem could be a great player if he continues to work hard,” said Weller.
Sophomore forward Jeremiah Morris (6’3”) also has been impressive in practice.
Junior forwards Donovan Jones (6’0”), Jeremy Rich (5’11”) and Stanley Redmon (5’10”) also are battling for playing time.
“The reason I kept 14 players on the varsity roster is that they were all so even in tryouts,” said Weller. “They are excited and their attitude has been great.”
Weller said he hopes “to get out and push the ball” on offense, “but if we don’t have anything we have to be able to set up a half-court offense.”
Weller played basketball at Bridgewater College for three seasons and graduated in 1999. He was the assistant coach at Bridgewater for 10 years before looking for an opportunity to be in charge of his own program.
“I spent a couple of days in Middlesex before I accepted the position,” said Weller. “I liked the community and felt comfortable with the school administration.”
Weller also teaches special education at Middlesex High. His wife Heather works in human resources at the University of Virginia. The couple have a 20-month-old son, Jackson.
Weller is living in Urbanna while his wife and son are living at the family home in Staunton. “We are trying to sell our home, but in the meantime I’m down here during the week and travel back to Staunton on weekends when I can.”
The Chargers open their season this Friday, December 4, at home against Northumberland. They visit Essex on Monday, December 7. JV games begin at 6 p.m. and are followed be varsity games at 7:30 p.m.
MHS assistant coaches include Chris DiFulvio, Jason Daniel and Trey Johnson.