Returning players hope to change Central’s losing ways
If there’s a preseason favorite for most improved team, the Central High School boys basketball team could be it.
The Warriors return six seniors on a team that will make defense a priority and thrive on balance and depth.
“Last year we just struggled to stop some guys and we weren’t there yet offensively,” Central’s second-year coach Ryan Hayden said.
Although Central was 0-24 last season, “We improved tremendously last year, so everybody that was involved didn’t have the sense of ‘we’re awful’ — that never was the sense,” Hayden said.
Central lost standout point guard Taylor Sanchez to graduation. Sanchez averaged 12.7 points and used his speed and strength to dish to open teammates.
But Central, which is looking for its first winning season since 2008-09 when it went 20-5 and won a first-round state playoff game, returns several players.
Senior Preston Grandbouche hit 17 3-pointers last season and the guard again will be the Warriors’ main threat from outside.
“He just does everything right,” Hayden said. “And he’s really turned into a great defender. He’s very ‘Yes, sir; no, sir,’ just gets it done. He’s been working on his footwork a lot this summer, and he’s getting a little quicker, a little faster.”
Guard Ed Becoat, at 6-foot, 190 pounds, is an athletic, slashing, guard who can rebound well for his size.
“He’s got a knack for the ball,” Hayden said. “He’s good at getting to the rim.”
Hayden said senior Frank DiThomas, a 6-2 small forward, is the Warriors’ most improved player.
“He’s improved most on defense,” Hayden said. “His defensive intensity I think is going to drive us this year.”
Another forward — 6-3 Clay Squire — is a smooth post player who Hayden said can hit consistent jump shots from 15-18 feet.
But the breakout player could be junior Trey Fair. Cousin of Fruita Monument standout center Spencer Fair, Trey Fair played extensively on junior varsity last season so that he could “learn how to dominate games,” Hayden said.
Fair is 6-2, left-handed and, as Hayden said, “a gym rat. He’s real handy in the post and I think that rivalry with Spencer Fair, and they’re super close, really drives him to become a great player.”
Fair averaged 15 points per game on junior varsity, Hayden said.
“It’s the fact of knowing you can (dominate) and go out being that 20-points-a-night guy,” Hayden said. “I think he still needs to improve on playing against competition in the SWL like Spencer (Fair), like (Grand Junction center) D.J. Wells.”
Hayden compares Trey Fair to Palisade guard Luke McLean.
“They play the same,’ Hayden said. “You really don’t know how, but you look at the boxscore and say, ‘Wow — that’s impressive.’ “
Hayden also mentioned sophomore guard Jeremy Champlin, who as a freshman last season started in baseball as a shortstop.
“He’ll be coming off the bench now as a sophomore,” Hayden said. “From 1 to 12 we’re real good.”