By Randy Gregory
Coming fresh off the heels of an exciting campaign that saw them reach the finals of the state tournament, the impending season will see a vast infusion of new talent for the 2012-13 Rockford basketball team. Chad Carlson is the lone returning starter, though he is as solid as any point guard on this side of the state. Chase Fairchild saw plenty of time and exhibited his penchant for long range marksmanship on multiple occasions last year. And Kyle Short was another frequent sub who has a solid, all around game and will be a key contributor this year as well. Unfortunately, a continuation of the foot issues that plagued Short all season long on the gridiron have carried over into the basketball season and it is a guessing game as to when he will be able to return.
Other than those three there is not a lot of experience in the wings. The Rams played tight low-scoring contests all year long last season and the playing rotation was senior dominated for the most part. Xavier Stewart saw sporadic action and brings excellent athleticism to the table as he looks for a greatly expanded role this time around at forward. Robert Holmes, Nathan Helms and Zach Finkbeiner are another trio of seniors who will look to crack the starting lineup and make vital contributions this year as well.
Casey Watters is a carbon copy of Carlson as a left-handed guard with the ability to fill it up from deep and headlines the junior brigade for the Rams. Christopher Sunday brings some much needed size to the interior with his 6’6” frame and will be one of the primary subs off the bench inside.
There may be some growing pains as the Rams try to incorporate the newcomers with the incumbents. The injury to Short may exaggerate the transition, as well as a difficult front end loaded schedule. But as the season progresses the Rams will look to build on the hallmarks that have established the foundation of this successful program. Defense, depth and a solid perimeter game will hopefully correlate to another successful season of Rockford Ram basketball.