BELTON — It’s November.
New coaches are taking the reins, underdogs hope to compete, first-time starters are filling gaps left by graduates, teams are preparing for rule changes and multi-year streaks hang in the balance.
It’s basketball season.
During this year’s games, coaches will be able to use electronics — such as tablets — in the bench area for strategic purposes.
“You cannot use it for a replay,” Temple Basketball Chapter Vice President Gary Ehler told coaches during Thursday’s district basketball media day. “Please don’t take them to show the official a play.”
Coaches gathered at Schoepf’s BBQ to summarize their hopes for the new season.
Belton girls coach Brenda Gomez said she didn’t know if her 7-21 overall record would improve this year, but believes her squad can compete and erase memories akin to last year’s 64-27 defeat at Ellison.
The only returning Lady Tigers starter is senior Emily Hugo, slated to come back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in December.
“When (assistant coach) Bradley Marek and I came to Belton, we really were shocked, disgusted, frustrated, but ... things change,” Gomez said. “Our kids now are learning to work hard. Their work ethic is changed. The culture now is changed.”
Belton boys’ coach Charlie Lewis is one of three district head coaches entering a first full season, and said he was excited to have a full staff.
The Tigers return senior starters Braden Hammond and Andre Ewing and junior starter Coby Potvin.
Central Texas native Marty Garcia is returning to his homeland to coach at Temple after coaching the Lady Rough Riders at Saginaw High School, north of Fort Worth. He also played at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.
“We’re going to go back to our roots,” Garcia said. “We’re going to play fast, we’re going to play quick. We’re going to do it on both ends of the floor. We’ve got a chance to be pretty good. It is Temple. You got to wait on football kids at Temple, and so if you watch us early, we’re not going to be very good. But once we get our footballers, I think the sky’s the limit.”
Eldridge McAdams is debuting as the Lady Bulldawgs head coach, after working as an assistant at A&M Consolidated. Copperas Cove returns seven seniors, after finishing last season with an 11-3 district record that preceded a trip to the bi-district finals.
“We come into a great basketball situation,” he said. “We’re working. Girls are trying to buy in.”
Ellison girls coach Sherry McKinnon hopes to coach her team to its 20th straight playoff appearance.
“This is the first year in probably seven years that I don’t have a 6-footer, so we’re small this year,” she said. “We’re young. I have only two seniors, one who played for me last year, and four sophomores, three juniors and one freshman. ... This district is going to be really hard. I don’t even know who’s going to be frontrunner, but we do know we’re going to have to step up and be ready every night for every team.”
Harker Heights girls coach Shirretha Nelson called her team’s 3-11 district campaign last season a “hiccup,” and hopes that promoting younger kids from JV to varsity last season will translate to success this year.
“We’re working out a couple of kinks,” she said. “We have eight seniors on our roster, so it looks really good.”
UMHB men’s basketball coach Ken DeWeese — who has coached 45 years — told the coaches to maintain a high energy level and “never grow up.”
“I have not grown yet,” he said. “I want to stay young with my guys. I want to be younger than them. I want them to think I’m as energetic as ever.”
“(The players) expect it, they deserve it, and if you do that, you got a heck of a chance to win.”