Fresh-look Pirates bring confidence

For several seasons the Granbury Pirates have been the fifth-place team in district.

Problem is, only four teams advance to the playoffs.

But that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm around the Pirate basketball camp, according to head coach David Breazeale and assistant Josh Jones.

“We most certainly can make a challenge for a postseason spot,” said Breazeale.

“In order for our team to claim a postseason berth, we will need for the players to continue to buy in to what we’re trying to do. To win, we must avoid mental errors, capitalize on our opponents’ mistakes and not beat ourselves.”

The Pirates graduated all five starters from last season’s team that finished 16-17 and played in the final game with a chance for the first winning record since 2004. They do have three returning lettermen, 6-0 senior guard Jimmy Hodges, 5-10 senior guard Collin McCann and 5-9 sophomore guard Clay Brawner, the latter being named honorable mention all-District 7-4A as a freshman.

Newcomers who could make an impact include 5-8 junior guard Jacob Taylor, 6-4 junior post J.D. Hohnstreiter, 5-10 sophomore guard Will Brawner, 6-3 senior post Kory Rafferty, 6-2 sophomore wing Nick Doughty, 5-11 junior guard Kevin Hennard and 6-2 senior wing Brandon Fichter.

Depth will be one of the Pirates’ strengths this season.

“We’re going to roll ‘em in and out,” said Breazeale. “It also makes for more spirited practices because the players know there will be nine or 10 guys who can play a big role instead of the usual six or seven.”

Along with the aforementioned players, the freshmen Purple team went undefeated in district last season, and several of those players will battle for varsity roster spots.

The Pirates are also in a new district that includes Aledo and Fort Worth schools Trimble Tech (No. 4 in the state by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches), and Arlington Heights (No. 15).

“Any time you have a preseason top-10 team in your district, there’s some toughness there,” said Jones. “And the other teams in our district are certainly not slouches.

“Arlington Heights has been to the regional tournament in each of the last two seasons, including a run to the state tournament two years ago. O.D. Wyatt has some outstanding players, and Southwest is a traditional power.”

The Fort Worth schools are known for their uptempo game. However, Breazeale said he believes the Pirates will be able to keep up.

“We’re going to play different than we have the past couple of seasons,” he said. “We’ll be a lot quicker, more guard-oriented. We’re going to put a little juice in the back court.”

The Pirates are hoping a challenging predistrict schedule will help provide some seasoning for lack of experience. The slate includes trips to rival Stephenville, Boswell, Burkburnett in Glen Rose, and a home game against Waxahachie.

Whatever the outcome, the Pirates will get there as a team, Breazeale said.

“We don’t have any superstars, and we don’t have the big guy in the middle like we had the past three seasons in Connor Adams,” said Breazeale. “We’re changing how we play, and the speed at which we play.

“I’m growing more excited about this team every day.”

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