By: Cooper Hughes
As fall sports are coming to an end, it is time to start looking forward to winter sports. When thinking about the winter sports season, basketball seems to be the first sport that comes to mind, leaving us with a question, how are West Henderson’s varsity basketball teams going to perform this season?
West Henderson’s boys basketball had a strong season last year, finishing 14-12 compared to the prior year’s record of 2-12. The team had a strong start to the year, but then went on to get upset by East Henderson in the first round of the conference playoffs, 48-46 and lose in the first round of the state playoffs 88-59. “Losing to East last year was really rough for us,” Senior, Tyler Druskis said. “You always hate to lose to another Henderson county team, especially in the playoffs. We did not take them as seriously as we should have.” West is losing a big chunk of their scoring talent this year with the departure of Nick Pate, who put up 17.3 points per game in his senior season. Despite this, the Falcons do have 4 of last year’s starters returning, as well as some key players likely to come off the bench. The Falcons’ second leading scorer last year was Junior, Jackson Lyda, and coach Brandon Brooks is looking to Lyda to handle a large amount of the scoring this year. “I’m going to need to push myself and my teammates every day,” Lyda said. “I can’t try to do too much with the ball because that has hurt us in the past. I need to trust myself, my teammates, and our coaching staff.” A big part of West Henderson’s success last year was their improvement on the defensive side of the ball. The Falcons inserted a “press defense” into their game plan last year, and it was proven to be a huge success. The Falcons’ defense forced 10 turnovers per game last season. Despite not having a true “center”, the Falcons made up for it with athleticism in their front court. Truitt Manuel’s ability to guard 1-5, as well as his ability to rebound and handle the ball made him stand out and even earned him all conference honors. Another member of the Falcons’ front court, Tyler Nash, was able to develop a consistent jump shot last year, leaving opposing teams with an additional threat on offense. Coach Brooks will look for Nash to continuously to improve on his paint defense and rebounding. “I’ve been hitting the weights hard,” Nash said. “Hard work in the weight room has helped me become more physical and athletic, which will definitely help improve my defense and rebounding.” The Falcons will look to take last year’s improvement and turn it into a conference championship this year.
Last year, the Lady Falcons varsity basketball team had their best season in over 5 years, finishing 15-12 and making the state playoffs. After a winless season the year before, a successful season was a huge relief for the Lady Falcons basketball program. “It felt really satisfying to win games because it meant that all of our hard work this season and the past couple of years paid off,” Senior, Presley Gonzales said. “It was a really great feeling knowing our program was really starting to grow and change as a whole.” The Lady Falcons are returning their two leading scorers, twins Jaza and Jania Wilson. The twins also led the team in steals, blocks, assists, and rebounding last year in their freshman season. Despite losing two starters, Kera Putnam and Araya Padilla, the Lady Falcons are returning 9 players from last year’s varsity roster. The Falcons come into this year a very young team, made up of mainly Sophomores. Many of the underclassmen did not have a huge offensive role on last year’s team, but Coach Beyer is going to look for that to change this season if the Falcons want to continue to improve. “I’m going to look to push myself and my teammates this season,” Sophomore, Allyson Garcia said. “We all need to step up and improve if we want to win this season.” The Lady Falcons will look to improve offensively this season, as they struggled on that side of the court last year, especially after Jania Wilson suffered a season ending injury. “It is important for me to not live in the past,” Wilson said. “I look forward to coming back with an added passion of determination knowing I am blessed to continue doing what I love, playing basketball.” As the season is getting closer and closer, a fully healthy Lady Falcons roster is looking to make some noise in the Mountain 7 conference this year.