Head coach Kent Caruthers seems confident that his Tolar boys basketball squad has enough talent and depth to overcome somewhat of a late start with several key players still in football into the second round of the playoffs.
The Rattlers’ first game was canceled. They opened their season last night against longtime rival Lipan.
“Football shape and basketball shape are totally different,” said Caruthers, who expects to carry about 10 players on the varsity. “But I think the depth we’re going to have will help with that. I really do feel like we will trust any one of our kids to start.”
Tolar lost only two to graduation from last season’s 14-16 team amd there are seven seniors on the current unit. They include three returning starters – second-team all-district Zack Hasegawa and two honorable mention players, Jacob Phillips and Ty Johnston.
“I feel like we’re going to be a very experienced team and we’ll be a very athletic team,” Caruthers said. “For some it will be their third year on the varsity. All have some varsity experience.”
Caruthers expects rebounding and overall size to be key strengths.
“I feel like we’ll be able to push the ball and have a good transaction game,” he said. “We’re very athletic. We’ve got a couple of really good defenders coming back. Being a year older and a year stronger, I think that will make a big difference. Even my guards are good-sized kids.”
Both Hasegawa, a 6-foot-tall senior point guard, and Phillips, a 6-4 power forward, each will be in their third varsity season. Those two, along with 6-0 senior guard Justin Brown and 5-8 senior guard Ty Johnston, started last season.
“I feel like I’ve got seven or eight kids that could start,” Caruthers said.
Others expected to push for a starting spot include 6-0 senior post/guard Tyler Pruitt, 6-3 senior post Gideon Sanders, 6-0 senior guard Landon Morris, 6-0 junior post Corbin Wood, 6-0 junior guard T.J. Foster and 6-0 junior guard Riley Osterman.
Brown has a torn ACL in one of his knees, but is still playing football. Indications are that he will hold off having knee surgery until after the basketball season is over.
“He can’t hurt it any more,” Caruthers said. “It will be a mind thing.”
Last year’s district champion, Whitney, is picked by some to take the title again, Caruthers said. Keene is picked second and Godley third.
“I feel like we ought to be able to play with any of them,” Caruthers said, noting he doesn’t plan on making major changes in style. “I don’t feel like we’ll be limited. We can do whatever we want to do. We just have to execute.”
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