Young Vikings working toward return to state

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Last season, the Community Viking basketball team got hot at the right time. The Vikings were giant killers in the postseason, defeating Clarksville Academy and MTCS before narrowly losing to Huntland in the region finals. With five seniors on the squad, the Vikings were one game from the state tournament.

Coach Robbie Davis, now in his sixth season at the helm of the Vikings, hopes that experience, especially from the postseason, will help as his team makes the jump from Class A to AA.

Leaping the hump

“We talked this summer about what extra could we have done,” Davis said. “It’s twice we’ve been this close in five years. We talked about what little things could we do to get over that hump. A lot of our guys that are returning understand the process of what it takes to get to that point. We’ve been working on cutting out those mistakes that we made in those games.”

Community returns a younger team this season.

“We’re having to replace Nathan Smith who was a big presence and Jackson Wisener and Tyler Bushnell and those guys who played a lot of key minutes,” Davis said. “We also lost Austin Bonner to a knee injury in the offseason.

“We’re very young. We only return three seniors. We have a very small junior class. Most of our team are sophomores and freshmen. We’re talented, but very inexperienced in a lot of places,

“These kids have worked hard and like getting in the gym,” Davis said. “We have a lot of basketball-only guys, so this is all they do.”

Building an identity

The Vikings have completed about two weeks of practice as they await their opening game.

“It’s a work-in-progress for sure,” Davis said. “We have more questions than answers. We’re still searching for that identity and trying to put the best players in the right positions to be successful.”

“For us, it’s trying to push kids to play positions they might not be comfortable with right now,” Davis said. “We’re pretty big inside again this year. A couple of them have some guard skills, so we’re trying to run some things where they get out on the perimeter and do some things.”

Seniors’ spark

The Vikings return two seniors who had a lot of playing time last season.

“Thomas Buchanan is our point guard. He is a game changer,” Davis said. “Several times in the postseason last year, he made some big shots and some big plays defensively. We’re going to ask him to score a little more this season.”

“Dillon Whitaker is a big guy who return. He was massive in our game against Clarksville Academy in the postseason. He goes 15-of-15 from the free throw line up there. He’s going to be one of our top scorers. He’s six feet tall, but he plays like he’s 6-4.”

“We’ve just got to fill the pieces around them. There’s probably going to be a lot of young guys in different spots.”

Junior Alex Mitchell, who logged plenty of minutes last season, returns in the backcourt for the Vikings.

Big step

With the new TSSAA classification, the Community enrollment took the Vikings to the Class AA level. Davis talked what that means to his team.

“It’s going to be a struggle,” Davis said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be one where we can’t compete. What’s disheartening is you lose the rivalries that we’ve had. We scheduled a lot of those teams, but it won’t have the same feel.”

Community opens its 2017-18 season at Huntland in a Hall of Champions game Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.