Basketball season is upon us. Gymnasiums around the state are teeming with cheering fans every Tuesday and Friday night, with the hopes that their team might one of the chosen-few playing through to early March in Austin.
The teams of southern Denton County certainly didn’t disappoint their fans last season, with multiple playoff appearances and some of the best talent in the state.
The Flower Mound boys’ basketball team is primed for another good season, after winning 24 games in its 2015-16 season and reaching the playoffs.
The Jaguars return three of their strongest players from last year, including seniors John Scully (12 ppg), Adam Dworskly (9 ppg) and Bryce Boyd (9 ppg), all of whom shot better than 50 percent from the field last season.
Coach Eric Littleton said that he tries not to worry about “who we play, but rather how we play,” but did add that crosstown rival Marcus looks very good this season.
“Our goal is simply to continue building on the best four-year run in school history,” Littleton said. “Four years ago, we won 26 games (a school record). Three years ago, we won 18 games. Two years ago we won 18 games. And last year we won 24 games. We want to build on this success and make it to the playoffs.”
Littleton said for the Jags to have the kind of success they have enjoyed over the last four seasons in 2016-17, it comes down to the underclassmen.
“Our young kids are the key to our success,” Littleton said. “I know our seniors will play well. They have a lot of experience. If our supporting cast develops, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
Across town, Marcus is looking to rebound after an 11-18 season record in 2015-16 that saw the Marauders finish district with a 1-15 mark.
Coach Shane Rogers said he is confident this year’s team will be much improved from last season and said that he is feeling especially good about some of the younger players moving up.
“We are really excited with the Varsity group that we have put together this year,” Rogers said. “After a strong offseason and good performances during the fall, our expectations are high. We are combining some experienced returners with a JV team that went 28-3 last year.”
Rogers said he expects several of his veteran players to lead the way this season, including Dylan Minor, who Rogers hopes “will provide on court leadership as well as some offensive production for us.”
“LJ Daniel is our leader on and off the court and provides a defensive presence and athleticism,” said Rogers. “Will Goetz, a newcomer to the varsity, but is a ball-hawk we expect to provide toughness and be our utility guy; and, Connor Bleasdell, a returning starter we have high hopes will lead the Marauders in scoring and rebounding.”
Rogers said he expects Flower Mound, Hebron and Southlake Carroll to be the teams to beat in district this season.
“To have a good season and make playoffs, we need to be able to control opponents defensively and win the rebounding game,” Rogers said. “We will also need a variety of people scoring and keeping the pace of the game up.”
Over at Argyle, the Eagles wrapped up a 27-5 season in 2015-16 and finished as district champions with a perfect 10-0 mark in district play.
Argyle lost in the area round to Wilmer Hutchins and is looking to pick up where it left off.
Coach Russell Perkins said he has a lot of returning firepower from last year’s team.
“We have nine seniors back from last year’s team,” Perkins said. “That gives us a great deal of experience. However, a number of juniors and sophomores will provide us with some great depth and could also play critical roles. Guards David Davis and Nathan Priddy were our leading scorers last year as juniors at 15.2 and 13.4 points per game, respectively.”
Perkins said the goal for this season is to be playing in January and February; and, said he has a couple of heavy-hitters in district this season.
“Decatur is new to our district and return a number of impact players from a very successful playoff team last year,” Perkins said. “Bridgeport is also new to our district and won the State Championship in 2014.”
In order to make the postseason and improve on the success the team enjoyed in 2015-16, Perkins said it will take a couple of things.
“Our team strength is going to be in our depth and that could be seen more in our practices than in our games,” Perkins said. “If we can use that depth to improve daily, we will get better and better as a team as the year goes along.”
For the Liberty Christian boys’ basketball team, the 2015-16 campaign was solid, finishing 7-7 in district competition and earning a playoff spot.
The Warriors finished 17-14 overall, and coach Lance Burroughs said he is liking what he has seen from his team so far this year.
“We have three returning starters from a team that finished third in district last season,” Burroughs said. “The biggest challenge we face is getting our younger, less experienced players to gel and mesh with our veterans. With a pretty tough pre-district schedule ahead of us, our team will have to continue working hard with the same kind of effort and intensity we showed during offseason workouts.”
Burroughs said he will need senior Daniel Dye, plus juniors Grant Sawyer and Tyler Baran to immediately step into leadership roles to help fill the void that was lost with last year’s graduating class.
“I expect these guys to be the driving force behind our team this year in the classroom, weight room, and on the court,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs said that Nolan Catholic is probably the top team in Liberty’s district this season and said to make the postseason in 2017, his will have to play as a unit.
“We can’t have a bunch of individuals,” Burroughs said. “We have to be a team. If we can’t get that aspect under control, the season won’t be a success.”
Up the road at 2015-16 District Champion Guyer, the Wildcats finished 13-1 in district competition.
Guyer returns four starters from last year’s team, including three all-district selections: Jake Roberts (12.8 ppg, 6.2 rebounds); Jalen Wilson (15 ppg, 6.8 rebounds); and, Devion Harmon (14.1 ppg, 4.7 rebounds). Coach Grant Long said he is confident his team can accomplish a lot this season.
“We expect to be highly-competitive and make a deep playoff run,” Long said. “We added a student athlete named Grayson Carter who will be a big addition.”
Guyer advanced to the area round last year, before coming up short against South Grand Prairie.
The Wildcats finished 30-3 for the regular season.