A schedule that was quite demanding is exactly what Ripley head boys basketball coach Luke Parsons wanted heading into the 2019-20 season.
When Ripley had played out its slate in what was season No. 2 for the former three-sport Ripley Viking standout, it was certainly clear the Vikings had taken on some quality competition.
While all seasons are filled with ups and downs, Ripley finished for a second straight campaign with a winning record.
Parsons’ Vikings produced a 12-10 mark - the second straight year Ripley has owned 12 wins.
While a State Tournament in West Virginia is still “suspended” due to the coronavirus, four teams the Vikings faced this season earned spots to the Big Dance to make up half of the eight-team bracket in Class AAA.
Ripley squared off with the likes of George Washington, Parkersburg South, Cabell Midland and St. Albans.
While Ripley was unable to defeat any of those four, Parsons knows it was a great test for his team and a learning experience.
“We wanted our kids to be challenged,” he said. “And they stepped up to the challenge night after night.”
Parsons was proud of his seniors who came to work and bought in to his system and style of coaching.
“I couldn’t have had a better group,” he said. “They are going to be missed.”
Ty Johnson led Ripley in both scoring and rebounding this season.
“He had a very good career,” said Parsons. “He’s grown so much in four years.”
Parsons says Johnson has aspirations of playing college basketball and someone is going to get themselves an individual whose game will continue to soar.
"He could have been selfish and gotten his points, but he was all about the team. He was willing to do what was best for the team."
Still, his numbers were very impressive.
Johnson averaged 17.7 points per game, grabbed 10.5 rebounds, dished out 2.8 assists, blocked 2.6 shots and had 1.7 steals.
Tobias Scholl ran the point for Ripley. Parsons says his even-keel approach was outstanding for the team. “He’s grown a lot, too. He never got mad. That helped in his two years of handling the ball.”
For the season, Scholl averaged 11.7 points per game. He also grabbed 3.6 rebounds and handed out 2.1 assists.
Carter Casto is a player Parsons labeled the “most improved” on the team.
“He was very athletic. He wants to play college basketball at a small school. He’ll probably walk-on and he’ll get a shot.”
Casto scored 8.4 a game. He corralled 4.8 points each night out while delivering 2.2 assists and coming up with 1.2 steals.
Isaac Robertson averaged 7.1 points a game for the Vikings and 3.7 rebounds. He also dished out 2.1 assists.
“He is also one of those guys to show no emotion,” Parsons said. “He did what we asked. He played defense, got on the boards and could score 12-to-15 points out of nowhere.”
Jacob Fouty scored 3.7 points per game, gathered 2.8 rebounds, was credited with 1.5 assists a game and one steal.
“He was just a competitor. He was our defensive guy. He always did the right thing. He gave it everything he had.”
While playing time was limited for Max Greely-Fay, Parsons says he was a key contributor.
“He was always in good spirits. He made our lives easier. He was a fun guy to have around. He was a tremendous practice player who made our guys better.”
With the loss of so many seniors, Parsons realizes next season will be one in which the Vikings enter with little varsity experience. But he knows that is life at the high school level and says it will be exciting to watch others step up their game.
“We will be a completely new team next season,” Parsons said. “Luke Johnson is the only one back who got significant varsity minutes.”
Johnson, Ty’s younger brother who was a freshman, averaged 3.9 points, 2.8 rebounds and blocked 13 shots along the way.
Others who saw nearly over or nearly half of a season’s action in varsity games were junior Kaeden Profitt (14), junior Sam Bumpus (10) and junior Kadin Hall (10). Tyler Lanham, a sophomore, hit the floor in nine varsity games.
“We look forward to what is next.”
It’s why Luke Parsons loves to coach.