Lions look to rebuild in 2020-2021 season (ARCHIVED)

Jacob Bundrick, Sports Reporter

  Over the last couple of years, the boy’s basketball team has been dominant, making it to the playoffs in both 2018 and 2019, competing in the state finals in the former. However, most of the key players from those teams have now graduated, leaving large gaps to fill the lineup. These losses won’t hold the team back as they look to rebuild and return to the powerful performances of teams prior.

  Head coach Robert Shelton has his concerns, but is ultimately optimistic about this upcoming season.

  “Due to the pandemic and circumstances none of us could control, I don’t think any coach in the state knows exactly what to expect. I think there will be tons of challenges this year. The lack of practice time, conditioning and game preparation time will be tough on players and coaches. We will have to be creative and use tools like game film and in game situations to teach more than in the past due to the anticipation of minimal court time in practices,” Shelton said.” 

  This group has a lot of similarities to our last group we recently graduated during their early years. I think we will see a lot of growth as the season progresses. The one advantage this group will have is their physicality. I’m not sure we will face many teams of equal size.” 

  Coach Shelton doesn’t see the “rebuild” of the team as much of a challenge, considering many backup players that were on those powerhouse teams will now be starting. 

  “Sometimes having experienced teams like we had last year overshadow the younger players that are growing and developing everyday. We have a handful of players that got valuable game and practice reps with the varsity team that I’m looking forward to seeing this year on the court. We will need all of those guys to step up and bring the newcomers along especially since we will not have a lot of time to practice and prepare for games this year. We will lean heavily on their experience,” Shelton said.

  Without multiple key players from last year such as Jarett Hunter, Xavien Hunter and Isaac Haywood, many players need to step up and fill in those roles. Coach Shelton is looking to seniors Nate Feagans, Terry Neely and Avanti Hunter, junior Jordan Smith and sophomores Qwenton Spellman and Teyachta Harris to play a larger role this year. All of those mentioned got some varsity reps last year, so they know what to expect and how to elevate their game to compete at a higher level. 

  Feagans and Hunter are looking to fill key roles this season; Feagans at shooting guard and Avanti at center. Both agreed that this year would be one for rebuilding and recognized the challenges the team would face. 

  “We lost a lot of veteran players and now there are a lot of new players that didn’t play much last year that now have a larger role,” Feagans said.

  Hunter agreed with his teammate. “It’s going to be harder since we lost our main players, our core. We’re going to have to fill those spots.” 

  Challenges aside, both players believe this year is going to be an interesting one, and they both look forward to working hard this season to get better and embrace their new, larger roles on the team. 

  At the end of the day, we’re all just happy we will have a basketball season during this hectic year that is 2020.