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PRC basketball growing from last year’s experiences

The season is fast approaching for the Blue Devils varsity basketball team with the squad set to play in a jamboree on Oct. 26 in Kiln.

Last season was an up and down year for the young team, but Head Coach Scott Stephens said last year’s experiences were great learning opportunities for his players.

“We understand we can’t do certain things within a ball game and be successful. That knowledge will hopefully propel us into this year, and help us avoid putting ourselves in those situations,” Stephens said.

A big part of the team’s growth will be dependent on how the four seniors on the squad lead the team.

Caden Thompson, Kelton Seal, Connor Tynes and Elway Fitzgerald have been with the program for multiple seasons, and Stephens said those players would be key to the team’s success this year.

“I’m really blessed to have four guys that have been with us throughout their high-school career and understand our expectations,” Stephens said.

Even with the four seniors on the team, Stephens wants his players to work as a unit.

Having a young team means improving team chemistry can be a challenge, but Stephens said progress is being made.

“It’s a work in progress, and we’re getting to a point to where we are starting to figure some things out. We’ve still got a ways to go, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Stephens said. The team’s practices move at a fast pace so the players can work through multiple drills.

This pace has increased as the season has drawn nearer with the added benefit of improving the players’ conditioning while allowing them to work on their fundamentals.

“I think the major change within our practices is the tempo and speed we’re trying to play with. We are jumping from drill to drill very quickly to maximize our time, and I believe that will pay dividends down the road,” Stephens said. 

Another common theme of the practice besides the incredible speed of the drills was the physicality of the players.

Players were expected to execute offensively through contact.

The players even went through a drill in which the players would throw their body in front of an oncoming player to take a charge.

After each collision the athletes would yell their approval, as his teammates would pick up the player who had been knocked down.

It was a rough drill, but Stephens said putting his players in those scenarios would benefit the team come game time.

“We have to be intense and physical to put us in a position to win games. In practice we have to put our kids in certain situations they have to battle out of to win, the same situations they’ll see in a game,” Stephens said.

The team is looking to improve on last year’s showing, and another year in the gym together could see them make that leap. Stephens said an aspect of improvement for the players this season will be their ability to read situations and make the correct play.

  “I think we will make better decisions as a whole. Last year, due to a lot of inexperience, we struggled to make the right decision a lot of the time. So, I’m looking for that area to improve dramatically,” Stephens said.

The team’s goals have been set, and the players know what Stephens expects. “We expect to win every game we play. Otherwise, why play? We want to put a product on the floor that our families, peers and community can be proud to support,” Stephens said.