The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
The Lincoln Cougar basketball team is off to an impressive start this season as they are one of just two undefeated teams in the county. Head Coach, Jordan Toth and his boys were 5-0 with wins over Buckhannon-Upshur, Petersburg, Keyser, Elkins and Sissonville all coming before Santa Claus came to town. Since then they have claimed wins over Braxton County, Philip Barbour, Liberty, and Notre Dame. This past Saturday’s victory over the Fighting Irish has Toth and company off to a 9-0 start and a ranking inside the Top 10 in Class AA.
What has been the key for this groups success? Toth indicated some of the reasons.
“We are very balanced offensively. We have seven guys that can score at any time. We have been playing really good defense.” The Cougars have been getting the job done on both ends of the floor as they approach the middle of the season. They are averaging 73 points per game while allowing just 50 points per outing. Even though my math skills aren’t that good I can figure out that there is a whopping 23 point per game differential, which is staggering. Sometimes numbers can be skewed to sway opinion but in this case they provide proof of the Cougars domination. Throw in the fact that they have not allowed more than 60 points in any game shows just how consistent their defense has been.
Heading into the season this squad knew that they had a chance to get off to a quick start. “Coming through the summer we felt that we could be pretty good but you never know how the ball bounces in some games,” explained Toth. “These kids don’t want to lose. It sounds real simple but when you have a bunch of kids and coaches that don’t want to lose it’s a pretty powerful thing.”
When you take a peak at the remaining portion of the schedule there are several talented teams lurking and Toth is very aware of what stands in front of his team. “We have a very confident basketball team right now but we also understand that playing the teams that we play in the conference that we are in provides a challenge. I think top to bottom this is the toughest conference in the state.”
The more that I learn about coach Toth the more I like. Every time that we have a conversation I leave it with more of an understanding of his basketball beliefs and I become that much more impressed with what his is building in Shinnston. “I knew that if wee took care of our part at the end we could win each game,” explained Toth. He also understands that growth is essential to keep the wins coming. “We understand that if we don’t get better in practice and continue to work against each other we are going to get beat.”
The most successful coaches on the high school level have the ability to motivate their players to bring out the best in them. Praise for high performance and honest self-evaluation are essential and Toth understands how important these qualities are. “We are proud of where we are right now but we are not satisfied.”
The high level of talent and the proper work ethic that this group possesses could lead them to the path of even bigger accomplishments.