Boys: Annual Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis Basketball Classic today

Others have tried, but Matt Combs will take another stab at trying to improve the Ohio squad’s success rating at tonight’s 12th annual Battle Against Cystic Fibrosis Basketball Classic.

Combs will serve as the head coach for the Ohio boys team for the second time. The West Virginia contingent have dominated the series with 10 wins in 11 games.

“That’s what we will talk to the kids about and try to motivate them with that fact,” said Combs, who just completed his 13th season as the head coach at Vinton County High School where the the Vikings secured their 12th consecutive winning season after finishing 19-5. His assistant will be Alexander coach Blaine Gabriel.

“A lot of kids on our roster I recognize from our conference,” Combs said. “I’m also familiar with kids from the other side of the Tri-Valley Conference.

“I’m looking forward to seeing these guys and seeing what they have. We will try to put the basic stuff in then work with rotations.”

Named captain for the Ohio unit is Division III first-team all-stater Shon Smith of Fort Frye. The senior finished his career as a Cadet with 1,277 points. During the 2012-13 season, he averaged 20 points per game for a ballclub which closed out the campaign at 15-8 and shared the Pioneer Valley Conference title.

His numbers also included 4.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 61 steals while shooting 75.9 percent (88-of-116) from the free-throw line.

“I don’t know a lot about Shon Smith, but I do know Fort Frye has had a great program over the years,” Combs said. “That’s a storied program right there.”

Combs will have the luxury of coaching two of his players one last time in Division II second-team all-stater Jordan Kidd and honorable mention selection L.B. Remy.

Kidd averaged 19 points per game.

“Jordan is really a good 3-point shooter and is an athletic kid,” Combs said. “L.B. was a hard worker and played aggressively on defense. He was a gutsy player who could score a little bit.”

Another impressive member of the Ohio team is Wellston’s Justus Ousley.

“At 6-foot-7, Ousley is just a phenomenal athlete,” Combs continued. “He can jump with the best of them.”

Other members of the Ohio team who received honorable mention all-state recognition in D-III were Belpre’s Dakota Hoffman, Fairland’s Cody Midkiff and Federal Hocking’s Shawn Parsons.

Rounding out the roster are Nelsonville-York’s Jacob Blake, River’s Cody Caldwell, Federal Hocking’s Max Carney, Athens’ Jared Ellmore, Cambridge’s Devon Francis and Ben Standiford, Alexander’s Braden Jones and Logan’s Tristan Myers.

“These kids are the best players on their teams, so they will want to run,” Combs said. “I just need to convince them to play some defense, too.

“In an all-star game, you have to convince them to share the ball also and not just play one-on-one. That’s a tough thing to get across when they have never played together.”

Several years ago when Combs coached his first BACF Basketball Classic, he didn’t realize how popular the games were and what an excellent job Bill Camp and his staff did organizing the one-day affair.

“I’ve coached in district games, and they are more laid back,” Combs said. “But with the BACF, it seems to always get a packed house. It’s for a great cause and a chance to see some really good basketball players.”