BOYS' BASKETBALL: Senior-heavy Mitchell rife with experience, leadership


Team returns leaders in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals

  • Boys' basketball

LEDGER – The Mitchell High School boys’ basketball team will look familiar this season, featuring many of the same leaders. 

The Mountaineers graduated just three seniors – Caleb Pritchard, Hunter Johnson and Sawyer Blevins – from a team that finished 12-15 overall and 5-5 in Western Highlands Conference play this past season. 

This year’s Mitchell team features six seniors, including Tyler McKinney, who led the team last season in points per game (12.2), assists per game (3.3) and steals per game (1.4).

Mountaineers Head Coach Chad Dellinger, who enters his fourth season with the team with a 29-49 record, said McKinney is skilled at creating open looks for himself and is also a good leader. 

“Tyler is one that makes us want to compete,” Dellinger said. 

Also, among this year’s returning seniors, is Mitchell McMahan, who Dellinger said could be poised for a breakout season. 

McMahan averaged 7.3 points per game this past season and his 37 percent shooting percentage from 3-point range was second on the team.

“McMahan had his games last year,” Dellinger said. “We expect him to be more of a threat from the outside this year.”

Dellinger said he also expects to see significant contributions from the team’s other seniors, including Noah Pitman and Zeus Ponder.

Pitman averaged 6.7 points per game this past year while Ponder scored 7.1 points per game.

“Noah can really take a scoring role if he wants to,” Dellinger said. “Zeus had some big games for us last year and really blossomed offensively toward the end of the season.”

This year’s Mitchell team also features Cole and Ty Sparks, who Dellinger said should help the team defensively. 

Dellinger said both Cole and Ty, who played varsity football together, bring a physical style to the team.

“Both of them have high motors, which should help us in transition,” Dellinger said. “Those are both definitely defensive guys and Cole can help us out some in post play.”

Mitchell’s roster is heavy on guards, leaving Dellinger open to some smaller lineups at times. Dellinger added there could be times he runs five guards at once. 

“I would like to have some more size, but we have what we have,” Dellinger said. “Some of these kids’ physicality makes up for their height.”

Dellinger said one of the team’s biggest X-factors is junior Caius Peterson. 

Peterson burst onto the scene as a sophomore this season by finishing second on the team in scoring with 11.2 points per game. 

Peterson’s seven rebounds per game led the team.

“Caius can be our centerpiece if he wants to be,” Dellinger said. “He moves the ball and knows the game well. There are times he gets 20 points and you don’t even realize it because he does all the little things so well.”

Dellinger said he expects this past year’s top-two finishers in the Western Highlands Conference – Mountain Heritage (10-0) and Madison (8-2) – to be good again this season. 

“Heritage is going to be the team to beat,” Dellinger said. “Madison will also be a very solid team because they have a lot of returning pieces.”


2019-20 Mountaineers schedule

12/19 4 p.m. vs. Rosman 

12/20 7 p.m. at Ashe County

12/27 TBA N. Henderson Christmas Tournament

12/28 TBA N. Henderson Christmas Tournament

12/31 3:30 p.m. vs. Watauga 

1/4 5:30 p.m. vs. McDowell

1/7 TBA at Charles D. Owen

1/8 4:30 p.m. East Rutherford 

1/10 7 p.m. Mountain Heritage

1/14 8 p.m. at Madison

1/17 TBA vs. Polk County 

1/18 3 p.m. at T. Wingate Andrews

1/21 4 p.m. Avery County 

1/23 7:30 p.m. at Crest 

1/24 TBA vs. Charles D. Owen

1/28 7 p.m. at Mountain Heritage

2/4 TBA at Polk County 

2/7 4 p.m. at Avery County 


2019-20 Mitchell roster

No. Name Grade

0 Jess Ledford Sr.

1 Jeremy Sparks Jr.

2 Mitchell McMahan Sr.

3 Caius Peterson Jr.

4 Adam Gortney Jr.

5 Ty Pitman Jr.

10 Tyler McKinney Sr.

12 Ty Sparks Jr.

13 Noah Pitman Sr.

20 Jacob Ward Sr.

35 Zeus Ponder Sr.

50 Cole Sparks Jr.