This type of relationship-building is something that can help the Purple Eagles rebound from a disappointing 2-12 season in league play last year, and a 2-17 record overall. Last year’s coach, Charlie Croff, has maken way for Meakin to take the reins.
Meakin has been around Albion basketball for awhile, building a strong junior varsity program that had a winning record last season and will move many players up to the varsity level for this coming season. Coupling this fresh varsity talent with a strong core of returning players, Meakin is hoping the Purple Eagles can surprise some teams on the N-O court throughout the winter months.
“We’ve got an influx of young talent, that we were able to coach up for two years at the JV level,” Meakin said. “It’s a high-intensity group, an athletically gifted group, and the success at the JV level should transfer up.”
Last year’s Albion JV squad went 16-2 overall, 12-2 in N-O league play, Meakin said, so the coach’s optimism is certainly justified. Meakin also expressed gratefulness for being able to keep his JV team together for the last two seasons without losing too many players to varsity call-ups, which can tend to happen with the sometimes-thin rosters of small school teams.
Meakin expects big things from a trio of strong returning players in seniors Ryan Fannin, Andrew Burroughs and Connor Barleben. Fannin plays small forward, Burroughs plays power forward, and Barleben — fresh off a strong golf season under coach Bill Dambra — plays small forward.
The coach speculated that the team will miss a trio of departed seniors in center Fred Koester, guard Tre Allport and guard Marquise Riddick.
Seniors Christian Rivers and Chris Rivers round out the 12th-grade portion of the roster, while juniors up from JV include Alex Bison, football star wideout Des Blackmon, Austin Loyd, Gary Moore, Clayton Stanton and Emmanuel Thompson.
Albion begins its season tomorrow evening, in a non-league road contest at Elba. Tip-off is slated for 6:30 p.m.