by Beau Wicker
Caston’s boys basketball team has won 30 games the last two seasons despite not having a player taller than 6-foot-1 in either season.
The Comets are in the same predicament this season, but they once again have 6-foot, 170-pound center Daniel Scales in the middle to help make up for it.
Caston boys basketball coach Ben Snyder said that Scales has been “Mr. Valuable” to the program and talked about the many reasons why.
“He’s one of those kids that comes along that is just a special, once-in-a-10-, 15- or 20-years type of kid,” Snyder said. “He does all of the little things on the basketball floor, and he’s a leader off the floor by example and vocally. Last year in many of our games he was our most valuable player. You’ve seen it this year that we are a different team when he’s on the floor. He can change an entire game by 25 points without taking a shot, he’s that valuable.
“He’s a competitor who hates to lose. Some kids have that, but he’s at another level. He doesn’t like to lose any drill in any practice. He’s the first guy on the floor, the first guy to take a charge, set a screen, grab an offensive rebound. The things a lot of players don’t want to do that doesn’t get your name in a stat column or newspaper, he does all those things. He’s a rare breed.
“He’s the first person who I want every kid in our program to watch. He exemplifies what Caston basketball is all about.”
While Scales’ defense and rebounding is invaluable to the Comets, his offensive contributions shouldn’t be overlooked, said Snyder.
“Our offense slows down and we’re not near as sharp when he’s not on the floor. He might be our most irreplaceable guy on offense. Our offense goes because of him,” Snyder said
The Comets (0-3) have lost three straight close games to start the season. They didn’t lose their third game last season until Jan. 28.
“We’re improving every game. We’ve got to find a way to finish games,” Scales said. “I think we’ll be all right.”
The Comets opened with a surprising loss at Lakeland Christian Academy.
“We weren’t as good as we thought we were,” Scales said. “We have more room to improve. That’s not a good thing, but it’s not a bad thing either.”
The Comets then lost to arch-rival Pioneer in the county tournament last week. The Comets got within two points with just over two minutes to go before the Panthers pulled away late.
“The Pioneer game I just think we didn’t take advantage of some situations, and turnovers killed us,” Scales said. “We have to find a way to take care of the ball. And if we play defense, our offense will come.”
The Comets let a fourth-quarter lead get away from them in a loss to Cass last Friday.
“At the end of the quarters we had crucial turnovers that led to big point swings,” Scales said. “At the end of every quarter we had a point swing, where we could have been up five and instead were up one or down two. We’ve got to take care of the ball during crucial times with pressure.”
One factor is that Scales has been in foul trouble in each game other than the Cass game to start the season.
“I’ve got to find out the way the refs are calling it and play the way I need to play to stay in the game,” Scales said.
Scales talked about going up against bigger opponents.
“I might be outmatched in talent or size, but I’m never going to be outhustled,” he said.
Scales also credited the Caston system.
“It’s a team defense,” he said. “One of the main focuses in practices is getting hip-ins so they don’t get any second chances.”
As for the tough start to the season, Scales said, “We’re coming along. I think we’ll be fine. I’d rather it be this way now than in February. I think we’ll be fine in the long run.”
The following is a question-and-answer session with Scales.
Q. Of the sports you play, which is your favorite? Why?
A. Basketball. I was just raised to love basketball. My family is a basketball family.
Q. How did you first get started in sports? At what age?
A. I got started in sports at age 6 playing Y league soccer and basketball.
Q. Do you have any family members who played sports?
A. My dad [Barry] played basketball here at Caston, and my mom [Julie] played softball.
Q. Have you ever played a sport that you were not successful at?
A. I tried golfing in junior high. I wasn’t very good, but I’m still working at it.
Q. How do you feel you’ve improved as an athlete since you first started playing?
A. I feel like my mental toughness has improved greatly since freshman year.
Q. What experiences have you had in sports have made you the athlete you are today?
A. I play basketball against my dad down at the barn, and I think that has made me the competitor I am today.
Q. What is something that not everyone knows about you?
A. I was diagnosed with diabetes my sophomore year.
Q. What is your favorite memory of playing sports at your school?
A. Beating Pioneer my junior year with the great atmosphere and environment.
Q. What are your goals for your future? Do you plan on attending college?
A. I plan on attending Purdue University where I’ll study agribusiness.
Each week during the school year the Pharos-Tribune recognizes an athlete from one of five area high schools. The recipients are selected by each school’s athletic department.