EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 10th and final in a series of articles on the second annual Ohio Valley Hoops Classic Nov. 27-28 at Wilmington College’s Fred Raizk Arena. Twenty teams from around the area will converge on the WC campus to compete in this year’s event.
Paint Valley vs East Clinton, 8 p.m. Saturday
When the East Clinton Astros step on the floor to face Paint Valley in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic, it will mark the varsity head coaching debut of Tony Berlin. Berlin has been a fixture in the Clinton County sports scene for many years, most recently as an assistant coach for Mike Noszka and the highly successful Wilmington Hurricane basketball program.
Berlin hopes to bring that same work ethic and level of intensity to Lees Creek.
“Right now we are just trying to establish the proper work ethic and intensity level that is necessary to win. Everyone has to earn a position by working hard every day,” said the new Astro head man.
Berlin and the Astros will be facing a tall task literally and figuratively when they take on Paint Valley. The Bearcats are led by 6-10 sophomore Dylan Swingle. Swingle already has a scholarship offer from Bob Huggins’ West Virginia Mountaineers and, according to Paint Valley coach Dave Shoemaker, coaches from Ohio State, Dayton and several other D-I programs have been by Bainbridge to check out the big sophomore.
Paint Valley finished last season with a 16-8 record and they won their second consecutive sectional title. But, three starters graduated from that team, and senior Anthony McFadden, who has scored more than 1,000 points in his career, will miss the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic due to a football injury.
Still, Berlin knows his Astros have a tough task. “Paint Valley beat East Clinton by 44 points last season. We know we will have to play well to win,” said Berlin.
Right now, the new Astro boss is more concerned with his team. “For our seniors, I am the third head coach in four years. Right now we are going through some growing pains,” he explained.
But, he knows the tradition of East Clinton basketball and feels he can return the program to that level and beyond. “East Clinton has had some great teams, players, and coaches over the years. We want to get back to that level,” he said.
While Paint Valley lost three starters, the cupboard isn’t exactly bare. In addition to Swingle, the Bearcats return 6-2 Andrew Braunen whom his coach described as a “pure shooter.” And, they picked up a transfer from Indianapolis, 5-8 point guard Christian Gallagher.
Due to having a high-profile player like Swingle on the roster, Paint Valley has been invited to several showcase events. In the Morgantown Classic, Paint Valley will face off against highly regarded Vermont Academy. “Having a kid like Dylan that people want to see play gives us an opportunity to play in several showcase events. It also gives us an opportunity to play some very good teams,” said Shoemaker.
Berlin and his squad are excited to play. “We are looking forward to getting our season going in the Ohio Valley Hoops Classic against a quality opponent. It will let us know where we are early in the season,” he said.
The Astros and Bearcats will close out this year’s OVHC when they meet at 8 p.m. Saturday,