Do not expect to see West Carter coach Jeremy Webb sporting a flight jacket and aviators as he walks to the floor this season in Cometland.
“We want to play fast,” Webb said.
Just because the 14-year veteran suddenly feels the need for speed does not mean he will be making a cameo appearance dressed like Maverick or Goose from the 1986 hit “Top Gun.” It does, however, mean that opposing teams may find themselves in a nightly dogfight with the Comets’ defense flying around like a sky full of boogies over the Pacific Ocean.
“I like to have flexibility and we will have the personnel that we can get out on the floor and pressure some people,” Webb said. “I can put some quick guards in the game that should be able to ‘D’ some guys up, then if I go zone, add some guys in with length to make it difficult on our opponents.”
Coming off a 16-13 season, West Carter saw as many highs as it did lows with overtime affairs something of the norm. The Comets played in five overtime affairs including a pair of triple OT thrillers at Lewis County on Feb. 8 and East Carter 11 days later. West Carter fell, 75-71, to the Lions but dispatched the Raiders, 62-59, in the opening round of districts in Olive Hill.
Now, the Comets look to build upon the lessons learned last season in hopes of taking that next step forward.
“One of the things we tried to do last year was develop a lot of depth and that just helps with the future,” Webb said. “We planned for this year in a lot of ways simply because we knew we would have so many kids coming back. We do have some guys like Braden (Leadingham) and Tyson (Webb) that have a lot of varsity basketball experience and we will rely heavily on them.”
The good news for the Comets is their top two scorers return this season. The bad news is two of the top four graduated.
“We lost Rodney (Evans) and Ethan (Adkins) and they had been in our program for quite a while and they were both good basketball players,” Webb said. “But we do have a lot of pieces with a lot of experience coming back.”
Evans averaged just north of 10 points a night and Adkins was at 9.5. However, Adkins was a warrior on the boards for the Comets with nearly eight boards a night. Leadingham was the next closest at five but Webb said a trio of forwards will have the job of cleaning up the glass for the Comets.
Dominick Dean, Ben Wilburn and Trevor Callahan all draw the assignment of filling one of the Comets’ biggest voids last season while contributing on the scoreboard as well.
“One of our weaknesses last year was rebounding the basketball and all three of those guys are going to have that ability and they can all step out and shoot the basketball for us,” Webb said.
But it is fathomable to think the Comets do have an Iceman-Maverick duo in Leadingham and Tyson Webb. Both can score in different ways. Both like to go fast, and both love a challenge.
“It’s big for me because I’ve worked really hard and I’ve always dreamed of being a key part of a team,” Leadingham said of the leadership role. “I think me and Tyson are a big part of things, but we have five or six guys who are going to contribute. Dominic Dean has put on muscle this year and Trevor and Trace (Tackett) can shoot the outside ball. I don’t consider us a two-man team at all.”
As for Webb, he brings a wealth of versatility to the court from the guard position and can play from any spot on the floor.
“Tyson has the ability to create his own shot off the dribble,” Webb said of his cousin. “He’s quick and athletic and from the point guard position, that’s really all you can ask.”
But don’t forget about Merlin, Cougar and Hollywood who all served as key support roles, just as Tackett, Dean and Evan Jordan will be called upon to do this year.
“One of the things I’m going to be able to do is put three pretty quick guards in the game,” Webb said. “With Jackson (Bond) coming in from football and Braden and Tyson on the wings and then put two shooters like Evan and Trace Tackett in the corners and allow those three out front to have some offensive creativity.”
Tackett works as a pure shooter from the corner while leading the Comets with 39 made 3s last year.
Leadingham said the trust the team has with each other started in elementary school.
West Carter faces a challenging first month of the season.
“December is going to be a tough month for us, but that’s what we need,” Webb said. “You can play teams that you should beat, and you should be better than they are, but those teams don’t exploit your weaknesses. I think it’s important that time of year that you need to find out your weaknesses, find out where you are at and that is the time of year you can figure that out.”
West Carter opens with Fairview on Dec. 3 then meets Russell four days later in the opening round of the EKC Tournament.
The Comets’ ultimate goal is getting back to Morehead in March for another crack at the 16th Region. They suffered an early exit in the tournament last year against Rowan County.