With basketball season set to get underway, a number of local teams are looking to make their marks on the court in 2021-22.
Three of the six southern Denton County programs earned playoff berths last season and a lot of talent is returning.
The Argyle boys under coach Russell Perkins finished up last season with an overall record of 31-1 and won a 4A state championship.
The Eagles have lost 10 players from last year’s squad, but Perkins said he is confident his team will be competitive.
“We have a solid core of players back that have worked hard to be ready to compete,” Perkins said. “It may take a while to develop into a cohesive unit (especially on the defensive end), but our guys are excited about our upcoming journey.”
Players to watch for Argyle this season include Eli Valentino, Trey Utter, Chance Coyle, Canian Galentine, Hutch Burns, Wayne Pritts and Jayson Demcher.
“We have the ability to score the ball in a variety of ways with a number of different players,” Perkins said. “Our guys are very versatile, and they are very good at sharing the ball to create an excellent shot.
“Our returning players have a great deal of experience in big games over our last two years reaching the state tournament. They have a solid understanding of what it takes to be successful and playing your best basketball in January, February, and (hopefully) March.”
Perkins is in his eighth season as Argyle’s head coach.
Over at Liberty Christian, the Warriors wrapped up last season with a 20-12 overall record and earned a postseason berth as well.
Coach Preston Nadolski’s team won their district championship in 2020-21, and while he does believe his team will vie for a playoff spot, there may be some growing pains along the way.
“We lost 11 seniors off of last year’s team and are only returning one player,” Nadoski said. “We are talented, but inexperienced. So we may struggle early, but hope to be ready by district.”
Liberty finished 5-1 in district competition last year.
Players to watch for the Warriors this season include Jimmy House, Kason Simpson, Matthew Oltrogge and Harry Harshfield and one younger player whom Nadolski said could make a big impact.
“Losing 11 seniors is very unique,” Nadolski said. “We will have a talented freshman, Kash Polk (6′, 6″) that has potential to be a great player for Liberty for the next four years.”
Nadolski is in his fourth year at Liberty Christian.
For the Flower Mound basketball team, 2020-21 was a bit of a down year, as the Jags went 12-20 on the season and missed the playoffs.
Coach Eric Littleton said his team will be “really inexperienced” this season, and to compete for a playoff spot, it will need one thing in particular.
“We have to stay healthy,” Littleton said.
Key returners for Flower Mound this season include Luke Stanke (point guard) and Ben Marcovich (forward).
Littleon has coached at FMHS for 11 years.
Across town at Marcus, the Marauders tied for a district championship in 2020-21, going 20-7 overall and finishing with a 12-2 mark in district.
Coach Shane Rogers said he likes the way that things are shaping up for this season.
“We’ve had a great summer S/C program and fall offseason, and have high expectations for the season,” Rogers said.
Players to watch for Marcus this year include returning starters Luke Smith and Zane Hicke, along with Roman Cansino and Dominick Harris.
Rogers said he believes his team could make some noise in 2021-22.
“We will compete for a playoff spot in 6-6A,” Rogers said. “We are more athletic and versatile than we were a year ago, with the ability to play a more up-tempo game for 32 minutes. We have size that can score over people in the paint, and this is one of the best shooting teams from top to bottom that Marcus has had in a while.”
Rogers is in his fourth season as a coach at Marcus.
For the Guyer boys basketball team, 2020-21 was marred by injury and illness, but this season should be much better.
The Wildcats finished 9-15 overall with a 3-9 mark in district competition.
Coach Grant Long said he is optimistic about his team’s chances in 2021-22.
“After a down year missing multiple guys from COVID and a late football start, the Guyer program is back to its winning tradition with multiple Division I players and with shooters all around them,” Long said. “This team has lots of flexibility with its size, talent, guard play, and ability to shoot the basketball. They are also one of the most together teams we have had. They compete hard every day and will be tenacious on the defensive end.
“We have a good mix of youth and experience. We look to get back in the mix of top teams in the state. We are expecting to be battling for a district championship and making a playoff run.”
Players to watch for Guyer this season include KyeRon Lindsay (UNLV), Jeremiah Green, Jordan Lowery, and Conner Newton.
Long, who has coached at Guyer for 16 seasons said his team will compete for a playoff spot this season for three reasons, “talent, toughness, and togetherness.”
Over in Justin, the Northwest basketball team is looking to rebound from a 6-15 season in 2020-21, and first year head coach Xzavier Gaines said he likes the way things are shaping up.
“All players are working extremely hard and learning how to compete on every play,” Gaines said.
The Texans return two starters this year, and players to watch include guards Gavyn Dunlap, Dewayne Waldon, Justin Watts and Carter Donoho.
Gaines said his team has the ability to compete for a playoff spot this season.
“We have a talented team, and players have a desire to win each game,” Gaines said. “Every night will be fun and exciting to see the Texans compete for victories.”
Gaines is familiar with success, as he was a member of Syracuse University’s 2003 NCAA basketball championship team.