The 2012-13 campaign was not as successful for the Colonels, however, as they finished 8-18 and narrowly missed reaching the state playoffs.
With a new season starting tonight at Heritage, Catoosa, Cass and head coach Greg Scott are hoping the team can make a run to the state playoffs.
“I think we have a chance, but it all depends on how some of the young kids blend in. I think from now until Christmas we have to play the football players into shape and see if there’s anyone young who can compete,” Scott said. “All the subregion and region games are in January, so I think that’s when we’re trying to position ourselves with the best seed for the region tournament so we can win just one game to qualify for the state tournament.”
The region tournament will be held in February and Cass will be the host. To take care of business in the region and make a run at the state tournament, the Colonels will need some promising young players to distinguish themselves.
“We’re a little bit young this year, and when I say young, I don’t mean we’re all freshmen. We’re a little bit young in game experience,” Scott said. “ We’re going to have to have some players who were JV players last year move up and be varsity contributors this year. I really like our freshman class. We’re small, but we’ve got a lot of basketball savvy in that group, a lot of competitiveness and a lot of grit.”
Chris Darden is the biggest loss for Cass. The post man averaged 12.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
“The biggest point and rebound contributor would be Chris Darden,” Scott said. “If you look at our point totals, we didn’t have many of those kids last year.”
Senior forward Justin Reed will look to fill the void and is one of three returning starters.
Reed averaged 9 points and 8 rebounds per game last season.
“Justin’s biggest strength is probably his ability to be physical and rebound. He can get us some points from us throwing the ball in there,” Scott said. “Our tallest payer on a varsity is going to be 6 foot 2, maybe 6 foot 3. We’re going to be outmanned some nights and we’re just going to have to be scrappy about the way we play defense.”
Trez Thompson is another starter who graduated and his perimeter defense will be missed by the Colonels.
Two players who will be counted on to fill the void in the backcourt will be returning starters Kelin Wells and Jordan Morning. Wells will play the point guard position for Cass and will draw the other team’s top guard on defense most nights. Morning will likely take over as the squad’s top perimeter shooter and could provide a needed scoring punch for the Colonels.
Another player who will not return is Darius Thrower, who emerged as a shooter and scorer his freshman season. Thrower transfered to Excel. The loss means there will be even more of an emphasis on finding shooting and scoring this season.
“There were several games last year where we would have the lead going into the fourth quarter and we couldn’t hold onto it because we would go through cold spells shooting the ball. We would just have a six-minute stretches where we couldn’t score,” Scott said. “I think our shooting is going to get better. Darius Thrower was our best perimeter shooter. That’s where I think some of those young kids are going to have an opportunity.”
However, Scott believes help is on the way.
“We bought one of the shooting guns this spring and we’ve been using it solid since last spring,” Scott said.
He believes the new piece of equipment will improve his team’s shooting along with some of the younger players who may step up. “We had a kid move in from Albany, Michael Sims, that should be eligible after Christmas that has an opportunity to step in and help. I think we’re pretty solid on our JV team, but there’s probably about six kids on that JV team that are very interchangeable. They are the same size, close to the same quickness and scoring ability.”
Scott hopes some of his young players will develop as the season progresses. In the meantime, Cass has 14 games scheduled before region play starts in January to get roles and a rotation ironed out.