The Burgin Bulldogs boy’s basketball team is ready for a big 2018-2019 season, which is Head Coach Don Irvine’s 18th season at the helm, and 40th season overall.
Burgin returns all their players from last season and added one senior to the squad.
Burgin veterans Ethan Kestler and Cameron Hurst have been varsity starters for a large majority of their high school careers. Matthew Kirkpatrick is also a senior who transferred in last season and is playing his first season for Irvine and the Bulldogs.
“Ethan (Kestler) was a surprise. He had no varsity experience going in to last year, so no we’ve set a bar for what we expect out of him,” said Irvine.
Kestler averaged nearly 10 points per game last season and hopes to build on that.
“I think Cameron (Hurst) is one of the well-hidden secrets in the area. I’m waiting for him to have a really good season. I thought he had a good season last year. The biggest things you want out of your seniors is consistency. An average isn’t bad if you’re going to get it every night.”
Hurst averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds last season. Irvine said Hurst will see time at every position with his versatility and ability to rebound the ball.
Kirkpatrick adds a new dimension to the Bulldogs this season. He is a tough, physical guard who can bring the ball up the floor.
“He hasn’t proven anything under game circumstances, but he is a really good athlete,” said Irvine. “He plays hard and I think he’s going to have a nice season, but you never know until you put him in that spotlight.”
Irvine said he plans to have as many ball handlers on the court as possible.
“We’ll alternate points guards, but if it came down to one set, He (Kirkpatrick) will likely be the first one out there.”
After those three seniors, Burgin has seven underclassmen that will be battling for minutes in the rotation.
Junior Wesley Tyler is a returning starter from last season, who averaged 10 points and seven rebounds as a sophomore, will be called upon to hold down the paint as the power forward or center, while also being able to stretch the floor and shoot from the outside.
“Wesley (Tyler) will likely have a heads up on the four spot, but the five spot will rotate just based on who is playing well and who we are playing,” said Irvine. “He’s going to play a lot because our rebounding suffers when he is not in the game.”
Irvine said Tyler has really improved his post game, something he harped on him about all offseason. Irvine said Tyler’s length and strength will be needed this season in the post.
Sophomore Jackson Qualls, who started at point guard last season, will be a very important piece to the Bulldogs this season because of his ball handling ability and quickness on the floor.
“He plays as tough as a post guy and anybody on our team, he just doesn’t have the size. I got a feeling that when we start the season, that he will have a spot on the court to start the game, but we’ll see how our lineups look.”
Juniors Seth Martin and Cole Mitchell will also be vying for spots on the court for Irvine.
Martin has the ability to step out and shoot the three, while Mitchell can use his length and height (six feet two inches) to block shots and snatch rebounds.
“We feel like court time is not an issue with this group. That’s kind of why we had that two-year building stage. He has really improved his shooting and will get after you defensively,” said Irvine. “It’s one of those things where if you want defense and shooting, you play him.”
Irvine said he is going to play the five guys that are playing the best, not necessarily by position.
Mitchell is still very young, but Irvine is excited to see what he can bring in his junior year.
“He’s got a lot of length. Once he shows signs of being more aggressive and active, he will be a big help to us in the middle,” said Irvine.
John Boursaw may only be a freshman, but has been on the varsity team for two years.
“He got some good minutes last year and he’s another guard we can put out there,” said Irvine.
Junior Hunter Martin is another underclassmen that will look to get minutes. Martin plays hard and is always looking to make an impact when on the floor.
“He plays so hard and when he’s out there, we can always count on him giving us 100-percent,” said Irvine.
Eighth grader Hunter Reed saw a lot of court time last season, and Irvine expects him to build off that and make a big impact. Reed is a physical player who drives to the basket and gets to the free-throw line.
“He had a breakout game last year in the district tournament against Mercer County,” said Irvine. “He’s got a whole year of experience under his belt and he plays very aggressive.”
Sophomores Elijah Cochran, Levi Hale and Evan May, along with freshman Grayson Mitchell and eighth grader Jacob Qualls round out the Burgin Bulldogs squad for the 2018-2019 season.
“There are some guys that are slow developing but I have no doubt in my mind that they will get there,” said Irvine. “Their time will come. They are very young. It’s not that they’re going to be good or better than some of the guys that are playing, it’s just a matter of development.”
Irvine wants all of his players to gain experience on the court, whether that is in a varsity, junior varsity or freshmen game.
“We just try and get as much court time and hopefully that carries over,” said Irvine.
The Bulldogs will be playing their traditional schedule, playing against teams like Portland Christian, Frederick Fraize and KSD.
Burgin will play in a tournament from Friday-Saturday, Dec. 14-15, at Danville Christian Academy.
Dennis Berry is returning to the sidelines as assistant coach to round out Coach Irvine’s staff.
The Bulldogs will have 16 homes games this season, compared to 10 away games.
Last season, the Bulldogs only hosted eight games so Irvine is excited about the opportunity to stay close to home most of the season.
“We’re excited about that because we did the state tour last season,” said Irvine. “A lot of schools we played last year that resembled us in terms of size are schools close to the border.”
One of the biggest story lines heading into basketball season in 2018-2019 is the district tournament.
Burgin will be hosting the 46th district girls and boys basketball tournaments for the first time this season and Irvine talked about the excitement in the area.
“Our kids are excited as well as our community. Anytime you have something new that hasn’t been done, they look at it with a lot of anticipation,” said Irvine.
The Bulldogs will open their season on Tuesday, Nov. 27, when they travel to take on Danville Christian at 6 p.m.
Burgin’s home opener will be on Saturday, Dec. 1, when they host Christian Fellowship at 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 27 – @ Danville Christian
Nov. 29 – @ KSD
Nov. 30 – Home vs. Christian Fellowship
Dec. 1 – Lee County @ Berea
Dec. 4 – @ Walden
Dec. 8 – Home vs. Frederick Fraize
Dec. 14/15 – TBA @ Danville Christian
Dec. 19 – @ Frederick Fraize
Dec. 20 – Home vs. Community Christian
Jan. 5 – Home vs. Rose Hill Christian
Jan. 8 – Home vs. Berea
Jan. 10 – @ Frankfort Christian
Jan. 12 – @ Silver Grove
Jan. 14 – vs. Danville Christian @ Washington County
Jan. 18 – Home vs. Piarist School
Jan. 19 – Home vs. Piarist School
Jan. 22 – @ Evangel Christian
Jan. 25 – Home vs. White Academy (TN)
Jan. 26 – Home vs. Walden
Jan. 29 – Home vs. Frankfort Christian
Jan. 31 – Home vs. Mercer County
Feb. 5 – Home vs. KSD
Feb. 9 – @ Portland Christian
Feb. 11 – Home vs. Evangel Christian
Feb. 12 – Home vs. Danville Christian
Feb. 14 – Home vs. Jackson City
Feb. 16 – Home vs. Lee County