By Michael Kinney
The Moore American
MOORE — Trip Fuller still has the end of last season fresh in his mind. A six point loss to Sand Springs in the first round of the regional tournament was not how he envisioned the year ending for Westmoore.
Fuller knows the Jaguars missed out on possibly doing something special. He returns this year looking to not let that happen again.
“It was sad to see us lose in the first round,” Fuller said. “But we have done a lot of work in the offseason. Hoping to come back and reconcile that this year.”
However, the Jaguars come into the season having to rebuild in certain areas. They return only two starters back from last year in Trey Ayala and Fuller. Even though they were the team’s leading scorers, coach Scott Hodges knows he will need others to step up.
“We are expecting strong seasons out of returning guys with a ton of experience, Tripp and Trey,” Hodges said. “Dillion Thompson is a very talented guy who broke his wrist last year and missed the majority of the season. He can really score the basketball. Calvin Johnson and Cortland Butler are two seniors we are really counting on to have good seasons. They are both really athletic and talented players and will get to show people what they can do at the varsity level this season.”
Even though Westmoore is replacing three starters and several experienced players, Hodges said this teams has does have strengths that were not present last year.
“We are more athletic and will be able to play a more up-tempo style than the previous years,” Hodges said. “We lost eight seniors that really provided a lot for our program, so replacing them will be a challenge. We are going to have to have some inexperienced guys step up and provide some much needed depth for us off the bench. We expect Zac Vanover and Danny Swanner (both seniors) to really have an impact off the bench. The strength of this squad should be our ability to score the basketball. When we defend with the intensity that we will need too, we are a good team that will cause people some problems.”
One of the problems is the pace of the game. The Jaguars are looking to attack and speed the game up.
“We push it a lot,” Ayala said. “We don’t just stop and do plays. We transition a lot. Fans can expect to see a lot of dunking.”
However, the Jags coaching staff knows depth will be an issue it has to develop.
“Our bench will be a key for us,” Hodges said. “Our starting five will possibly be the best it’s been in a while here. Our bench guys will have to continue to develop, gain experience, and help us win games this season. I like our team though and the variety of line-ups we should be able to play.”
Westmoore kicked off the season Tuesday against No. 1 Edmond Memorial. It now prepares for the Durant Lions Classic tournament Thursday through Saturday.
The Jaguars play their first home game Dec. 11 when they host Southmoore.
“Two things we always do is play hard and play together,” Hodges said. “Over the course of the last four years, we have really improved and turned our program around into a program that will compete and give ourselves a chance to win every night out. I think we have done that by always preaching hard work and togetherness.”