Coming off of a 30-7 season capped with a District 21-5A title, the Barbers Hill basketball program is flying high as a new season gets ready to tip off.
Yet, every single player with one exception from that 13-man roster has graduated and now the Eagles will have to start essentially from scratch as head coach Chris Pennington’s team undergoes athletic plastic surgery as they get started at 7 tonight at Texas City.
“We are looking forward to another successful season,” Pennington said. “Our kids have worked hard this summer and during our fall camp. We have several guys that you have to guard from behind the three-point arc. Our weakness would have to be experience at the varsity level with only one returning varsity player.”
Only three seniors dot this year’s roster, including Mason Daniels, who got plenty of quality minutes for the Eagles during their run to the Area round of the playoffs. He is joined by classmates Cole Hahn and Zavian Yusafi.
“It was a big deal for me playing with the team and it got me playing at a faster pace,” Daniels said. “So, I can understand how to move the ball and how the game works. I feel like a leader. We have been up and down and have some work to do, but overall, we have been pretty good in five tournaments we played in the Houston area.
“We got to start winning and we play some good teams early. It’s about playing well. If we lose as long as we play well, we can move ahead as a team.”
The juniors include Devin Figueroa, Nick Crump, Ashton Hamby, Nick Marabito, Simon Larranaga, Cole Anderson and Cade Farrabee. Sophomores Gaven Barber and Bryce Pennington will also be in the mix.
The players don’t seem to be deterred by the challenge of stepping into the great unknown.
“We have a lot of young talent,” Anderson said. “We got a lot of experience from practicing with varsity last year and we can build from that. There is a little pressure on trying to build on what they started and keep it going, but we can handle it.
“When we are losing, we have to learn to stay together. We are so competitive, and we all want to win and do whatever it takes to do it.”
They will win behind a strong set of looks on both sides of the floor.
“We run multiple offensive and defensive schemes,” Coach Pennington said. “Our philosophy is to make our opponents have to prepare for the many ways we can play. We want to be able to play fast but under control, and also be able to grind it out in a slow, defensive battle.”
The goal for the program is to become a state championship program, but Pennington says his immediate sights are on another district title and then a longer playoff run.
“We want to play smart, play tough, and play together every day in practice and in games,” Pennington said. “It is very possible that we could set some 3-point attempts record this season.”