Young Kavs aim for balance, speed

Published 1:09 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The young Kenston Forest School varsity boys basketball team has started the 2016-17 season 0-3, but it holds promise for improvement and is led by a new coach with a proven track record of producing winners.

Kavaliers Head Coach Bart Bellairs established himself as a standout college men’s basketball coach during his time leading the program at Virginia Military Institute (VMI). From 1994 to 2005, he became the winningest coach in VMI history up until then.

For several years during that stretch, the Keydets led the nation in scoring at the NCAA Division I level.

Prior to his time at VMI, Bellairs served as an assistant coach at the University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts and James Madison University. He worked for prominent coaches like Charles Grice “Lefty” Driesell and John Calipari.

Most recently before coming to Kenston Forest, Bellairs had success coaching at the high school level at Rockbridge County High School in Lexington.

He now holds the reins of a Kavaliers team that went 5-13 last season. Seven players graduated from that team, leaving the Kavs quite young this year.

“We’ve got more underclassmen than we do upperclassmen now, but that’s a good thing,” Bellairs said. “We’re going to build for the future.”

The Kavaliers have been limited by some key injuries. Freshman 6-foot-5-inch center Kenny Underwood tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the summer but should be back next season.

This season, Kenston Forest has lost to Isle of Wight Academy and twice to Halifax Academy, but it showed improvement in the second meeting with Halifax.

Bellairs has adapted his coaching to accommodate the players with limited experience.

“I’ve had to just slow it down just a little bit so we can get some more fundamentals in, but my style of play is definitely ‘run and gun’ and just play extremely hard,” he said.

The captains on the team are senior power forward J.E.B. Buchanan and senior small forward Payden Lawson.

“Tyler White right now is probably our best shooter,” Bellairs said, referring to the sophomore shooting guard. “But the key to this team is going to be balanced scoring and balanced play by eight to 10 people.”

The Kavaliers return to action Wednesday, Dec. 7, when they visit Holy Cross Regional Catholic School, with tipoff set for 6:30 p.m.