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Panthers to juggle lineup

Persin doesn’t foresee any set starting lineup this season as the Chesapeake Panthers prepare to defend their Ohio Valley Conference championship for the fourth straight season.

Friday, December 03, 1999

Persin doesn’t foresee any set starting lineup this season as the Chesapeake Panthers prepare to defend their Ohio Valley Conference championship for the fourth straight season.

Chesapeake has some depth, but with the loss of All-Ohio forward Chris Lovely and the outside shooting of Chris Lane there is uncertainty concerning a consistent starting lineup.

"Our starting lineup will depend on who we play, how healthy we are, and the right combination. Certain kids will play well one night, and other kids will play well the next night," Persin said.

Actually, the Panthers will have at least two players who should have a starting job each night: senior point guard Adam Pemberton and junior center Anthony Delimpo.

Pemberton is a three-year starter and Delimpo was a starter as a sophomore. Persin expects the two players to be leaders.

"Pemberton is a senior and a three-year player. He’s improved and he’s the guy we have to fuel off," said Persin. "He’s a legit point guard. He has to make our team better. He has to take the points when they come to him. Defensively, he’s one of the better players you’ll see. He’s got to be solid."

The 6-foot-5 Delimpo could be the best big man in the OVC.

"He’s stepped up and improved," Persin said. "Just being a junior, he can be even bigger. He’s gotten strong and his leaping ability has improved. He’s a nice player."

Injuries are playing a key factor in Panthers preseason preparation. Several players have been slowed by injuries which leave Persin looking toward other players to fill in.

One player who is healthy unlike last season is 6-foot senior Andy Clark. Persin is looking to Clark and 6-foot senior Matt White to add some scoring punch.

"Clark will be improved just because he’s healthy. He’s moving better and shooting better," Persin said. "We don’t have anyone as consistent as Lane, but Clark and Matt White can hit the 3s and can do the job. White is a good defensive player."

Two players who have caught Persin’s attention and will get plenty of playing time are 5-9 junior Bobby Barbour and 5-11 senior Justin Saunders.

"Bobby Barbour might be the most improved shooter on the team. He can shoot awfully well when he’s in a grove," Persin said.

"Justin Saunders is a typical Chesapeake senior who has never played, works hard, and comes out of nowhere to play. He might be the kid who makes the fewest mistakes on the floor. He’s the backup point guard and the off guard."

Junior Josh Waugh, a 6-2 forward, figures in the mix. Persin said Waugh "is the best athlete on the team. His shot has improved and he can be one of our best rebounders. He runs the floor extremely well."

Although they may not start, Persin said juniors Matt Miller, 6-3 Zeb Best, and Adam Webb will be key contributors.

"Matt Miller was a good jayvee scorer last year. He’s had a bad back and he is just starting to come around. We’re expecting good things from him because he can score," Persin said.

"Best had a little knee problem, but in another week to 10 days he’ll round into shape. He’s a scorer in side and he’s a banger. He’s a nice compliment to Delimpo."

Persin said Webb has missed the past week with an injury and is expected to be out another week.

"He was playing pretty well," Persin said. "We have a lot of kids who can swing both ways at guard or forward."

Also at Persin’s disposal are juniors Joey Macri, Beckett Gue, and Abe Huff.

"Macri, Gue, and Huff all know their roles and do a good job with what’s expected from them," said Persin.

Regardless of the Panthers talent and past success, Persin said the schedule is demanding.

"Gallipolis has one of their better teams. This is going to be a tough opener," said Persin. "Tolsia is pretty good. John Marshall is one of the bigger schools in West Virginia, and Scott County is the second-ranked team in Kentucky. This is without question one of our toughest schedules we’ve played. Our schedule early is difficult. But our kids know we have a demanding schedule and they usually respond pretty well."

Even though Chesapeake is the favorite in the conference, Persin said the title is far from uncontested.

"South Point has some speed and some shooters. They feel they can contend," said Persin. "But the league is always competitive. You never know on a given night. Fairland has (Jay) Capper and (Aaron ) Swanton and they’re two of the better players in the league."