GIRARD — Following an undefeated season in which the Girard High School boys’ basketball team won 23 consecutive games en route to becoming CNC champions and taking fourth place in state, the Trojans begin a new campaign with several new faces and high expectations.
The Trojans said goodbye to six seniors who had a big hand in the success a year ago, but they still have strength in the returners as well as a few key underclassmen who will try to get back to the postseason.
“We hope we can build on that success, but it’s a different team obviously,” GHS head coach Rod Westcott said. “We graduated six seniors and we’ve got a good group of new seniors. They’ve been waiting for their opportunity and they’re going to get it this year … Hopefully the work they put in the past will pay off for us, and those kids will step in and have some of that success and build on what we’ve done in the past.”
Although the confidence level is high, the Trojans understand the difficulty of the CNC, and look to persevere through the adversity.
“The goal for us every year is to win the league,” Westcott said. “We have our work cut out for us this year. There’s a lot of good teams coming back. There’s four teams picked pretty high up at the top, with us at number five, but within that group of teams, anybody can beat anybody on any given night. We really got our work cut out for us and we have to work hard to be in that upper tier. Our kids feel like that’s something we can accomplish if we work hard and play well.”
Last season’s Girard team may be remembered by the stellar senior class, but Westcott said the current group of upperclassmen are no slouches either.
“Eric Wilson is coming back, who is the only returning starter we have,” he said. “Isaiah Fisher came in last year and really played some big minutes for us. He did a nice job and played well in the state tournament for us.
“Jordan Hopson has played extremely well for us in the past, and we’ll look for some good things out of him. Dalton Lindbloom is a scrappy point guard who has given us good minutes in the past. Dakota Lopez is my other senior, and he has stepped in and has really done a good job stepping up in practice and showing a little bit of leadership.”
In addition to another solid crop of upperclassmen, there will be a few underclassmen competing for playing time as well.
“We’re doing some good things with our seniors, but then we have some underclassman, who we think can contribute as well,” Westcott said. “Ethan Goff is a junior, Brett Ferguson is a junior and we have some key sophomores as well, like Caleb Muia, Evan Troike and Carter Doherty. We’ve got a good group, a good core and it’s early right now. We have to continue to work and make sure that we’re getting better everyday.”
With the first few weeks of practice under their belt, the Trojans have been reinforcing the basics, while implementing the gameplan.
“Early on it’s all about working the fundamentals and getting the ball back in their hands,” Westcott said. “We try to stress the fundamentals all year long, but especially at the beginning of the season. We just want to make sure that we’ve got a solid base and that we’re doing the little things right. Obviously, we’re implementing all of our schemes as well, because it never seems like there’s enough time before that first game to get your schemes in, but we’re just really stressing the fundamentals right now.”
Jordan Buckamneer is a sports reporter of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on twitter @jbuckamneer.