Filling the silence: men’s basketball hopes to make noise this season


Kylie Bridgeman

SENIOR Maxwell Poynter and Tyler McKinley, ‘24, are both receiving attention from colleges for their performance on the court. They were both dominating scorers last season, averaging 11.3 and 10.7 points per game respectively.

The continous dribbles of the basketball bouncing on the hardwood floor, the voices of players cheering each other on, and the squeak of tennis shoes filled the empty space of the gym throughout the 2020-2021 basketball season. However, there was still a missing energy that can only be filled by packed stands of rowdy fans.

“It just felt really empty in the gym without people there,” SENIOR Kellen Porter said. “It was just boring, the crowd really makes it better.”

The men’s basketball team returns several talented players , including SENIORS Owen Murray, Max Poynter, and Porter. Ricardo Hill, head varsity coach, has high hopes for the success of the team this season following the unfulfilled dreams of last year’s team.

“I have very high expectations for this season. I’m expecting a very deep run in the tournament this year,” Poynter said. “I want to compete for the state title.”

Last season, the Eagle’s tournament run was cut short by a tough loss to Mason High School in round two of the postseason tournament.

“We are just going to come back ready to work harder, we don’t like the feeling of losing,” Murray said. “We’re coming back with a chip on our shoulder.”

The Eagles had a record of 17-4 last season, and were not used to losing. They only suffered two league losses during the regular season.

“I’m hoping we go undefeated [this season],” Porter said.

A lot of the team’s success is owed to their scoring ability; six of the top 50 scorers in the ECC were Eagles last season. Poynter, Murray, Porter, Javion Bostic, ‘23, Tyler Mckinley, ‘24, and Collin Miller, ‘21, all earned their spot on the leaderboard.

Murray, a small forward, put up 214 points in 19 games. “For me personally I’m a 3-point shooter,” Murray said. “Whenever I get the ball I just let it fly.”

However, Murray is not the only successful player on the team.

McKinley is a standout sophomore who is receiving attention and offers from schools across the country, such as The University of Cincinnati, The University of South Carolina and West Virginia University. His talent, coupled with his teammates’ experience and skill, pose a promising future for the basketball program.

With so many promising players on the team, Hill has high expectations for the season as well.

SENIOR Austin Miller is working hard during the preseason on the court and in the weight room.

“It’s tough for me to predict anything but a championship, because that’s my mentality,” Hill said. “That’s our goal and I’m sticking to it.”

The varsity season opener is slated for Nov. 26 against Archbishop Moeller High school, a historical basketball powerhouse who finished 18-5 overall in the 2020-21 season.

“I think we’re going to have an exciting season, the sky’s the limit for us,” Hill said. “I wish we could start tonight. I’m ready.”

Along with the team and coaches, fans will be welcomed back into the gym this year.

“Last year it was so weird playing home games with nobody there,” Poynter said. “The energy in that crowd is something that you don’t see for Walnut. Especially with our team this year the Nuthouse should definitely come out and have some great turnouts for our home and away games.”