A whirlwind season for the Covenant Middle School boys basketball team has come to a close. The Lions played their final game last week, closing the door on a 4-6 season under coach Ryan Smith.
Fans were marveled by Covenant’s squad this year, with most eyes centered on the team’s center Casper Standefer. The man in the middle is hard to miss as the 6-foot-7 Standefer is usually head and shoulders above teammates and opponents.
Standefer’s growing game, along with the play of his teammates, gives Smith encouragement the Lions will be successful in the future.
“Casper has come a long way in his third year of playing. He and Isaiah (Wilson) provided a lot down low,” said Smith. “By the end of the year, our whole team had learned to play at the pace we need to be successful.”
Standefer and Wilson doing the dirty work down low gave Luke Campbell more room to operate on the perimeter. A gifted shooter, Campbell was able to fire away from deep, keeping defenses off balance by the Covenant attack.
Seventh-grader Garryn Duggin added a splash of variety with his ability to slice through defenses and pass. Graham Edens, Matthew Breedlove and Nicholas O’Hara rounded out a rotation that could be the future of the program.
“They’re learning situational things. Our high school guys are used to logging the game since they were freshmen. They’ve gotten pretty good at it,” said Smith. “I’ll let our high school guys come up with scouting reports. I ask the middle school guys about what they remember about opponents – they’re learning the process.
“It gets faster. They’re going to have to work on developing their skills, but they’re getting there.”
One advantage for the middle school team as they age is hearing the same voice. Smith coaches the elementary, middle school and high school boys teams at Covenant. Having all teams under his command gives Smith a chance to improve as well.
“As a coach, you can see what you mess up with one team and try to fix it with others,” said Smith. “I can learn their strengths and weaknesses. It helps me put them in a position to be successful as they age.”