There will be a different look on the sidelines of Perry Central’s boys’ basketball team this season as former Sheldon Clark Coach Kevin Spurlock takes over the Commodore program this year. And with a roster full of depth, he is looking ahead to what could be a promising season.
The Commodores finished with a 23-5 record last season under Coach Allan Hatcher, before dropping out in the postseason with a first round loss to Buckhorn in the 54th District tournament.
Though players like Jaysean Paige and Kyle Huff have moved on, the Commodores will still return a glut of talent to the floor this year, who along with their new coach will have hopes of making a deep run into the postseason.
“I’ve never coached a team with this much depth,” Coach Spurlock said this week during a media day in Hazard. “Right now, I think we’ve got anywhere from 12 to 14 kids that I could put in the game and be comfortable with at different times.”
Freshman Braxton Beverly, who in 2010 as a seventh grader led the Commodores in scoring during an appearance in the Sweet 16 and ran the team from the point last season, will return again this year. And he’ll have plenty to go with him.
Senior center Dalton Cornett will anchor the team on the blocks, and the Commodores are also expected to get a major boost from 6-foot-6-inch junior Justin Johnson, who in his first two years at Sheldon Clark received interest from several Division I college programs. He transferred to Perry Central this summer after Spurlock was hired to coach the Commodores.
Spurlock said he expects Austin Pray and Darryl Beatty, two of the region’s best athletes, to provide some significant production, as well as junior Tyler Fugate and 6-foot-5-inch twins Robert and Thomas McClain.
That kind of depth will also give Perry Central an advantage in practice in terms of simulating in-game situations. “When you’ve got 10 or 12 really solid players, you have some really good, competitive practices,” Spurlock said.
Though their ultimate goal lies with the postseason, for now February is a long way off, and Spurlock is concentrating on getting his team ready to play comfortably within his system. Since he wasn’t hired until just before the school year, he added that it’s almost like he’s dealing with a quick reboot of the Commodores’ program.
“Right now, it’s just a really transitional period,” he said. “We’re trying to do a lot of basic stuff, and we look for our season to be more about just in terms of a month at a time. We’ve got to see a lot of progression every month, and add a little bit here and there as our kids get comfortable.”
And like last year, the Commodores will face able competition in the 14th Region, with young teams like Hazard now maturing, and talent-filled squads like Knott Central and Breathitt County returning a bevy of experienced players.
Spurlock, a former coach at Hazard High School, is no stranger to coaching in the 14th Region. He called this region the best in the mountains with four or five teams each year with the potential to advance to the Sweet 16, and even more still capable of picking up a win any given night.
“I’m excited about being here,” he said. “I look forward to my team getting to compete.”
Perry Central will begin the season with some stiff competition, taking on the always tough Scott County High School at a neutral site in Jackson County. From there, the Commodores will take on Powell County on the road, before playing their first home game against the Australian National Team on Dec. 7.
Regional games to look out for this season include a home matchup against Letcher Central on Dec. 18. Breathitt County will come to town on Jan. 15, while the Knott Central Patriots, the defending region champs, will play in John C. Combs Arena on Feb. 7.
Perry County Central 2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Schedule
Nov. 30 – Scott County, @ Jackson County, 9 p.m.
Dec. 1 – Powell County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 7 – Australian National Team, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 8 – Southwestern, @ Clay County (Bobby Keith Classic)
Dec. 11 – Johnson Central, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14 – Bell County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 18 – Letcher Central, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21 – Central Hardin, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 27-30 – Republic Bank Classic @ Lexington Catholic
Jan. 3 – Owsley County, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9 – Clay County, Home, 8:15 p.m. (WYMT Mountain Classic)
Jan. 11-12 – WYMT Mountain Classic, @ Perry Central High School
Jan. 15 – Breathitt County, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 17 – Lafayette, @ Scott County (Toyota Classic)
Jan. 18-19 – @ Scott County (Toyota Classic)
Jan. 22 – Pineville, Away, 7 p.m.
Jan. 25 – Clay County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26 – Scott, @ Montgomery County (Joe B. Hall Classic)
Jan. 29 – Wolfe County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 2 – Harlan County, Away, 7: 30 p.m.
Feb. 5 – Knox Central, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 7 – Knott Central, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9 – Jackson County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12 – Breathitt County, Away, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 15 – Cordia, Home, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 18-23 — 54th District Tournament @ Perry Central High School