Pioneers look to keep the good times rolling
By Dave Ongie
An unexpected run to the regional title game last season gave a young David Crockett team a lot of valuable postseason experience.
Now the Pioneers will try to build upon that experience, but Crockett coach John Good is quick to point out that his team is still young and lacks a proven scorer following the graduation of Josh Releford.
“Right now we don’t have a big-time scorer like we’ve had in the past,” Good said. “We’re going to score by committee or we’re not going to score a lot.
“The kids should have a lot of confidence, but then at the end of the day, they’re just sophomores. They still haven’t hit their plateau. It’s good experience, but they’re still young.”
Mchale Bright and Donta Hackler are among the sophomores who blossomed as the season wore on last year. Bright and Hackler both have length and athleticism, which serve them well in the fast-paced style of play Good prefers to play.
Seniors Tee Johnson, Camara Bradley and Paul Arrowood will also be counted upon for leadership and production. Arrowood, a 6-foot-6 forward, will have a size advantage against virtually every team in the league. But that hasn’t been the case in practice as 6-7 senior Austin Lewis has made Arrowood work hard on a daily basis. Lewis, who signed a football scholarship with Liberty, hasn’t played basketball in a couple years, but his size, athleticism and physicality have made him an intriguing addition to Crockett’s basketball team.
“He gets his money’s worth in there,” Good said of Lewis. “Him and Paul are both very competitive in practice, and it’s been good for both of them.”
John Kollie and his younger brother Prince also figure to help the Pioneers, as do Jordan Hensley, Bryan Rodriguez, Ayden Begley and Jake Gaffney. According to Good, the Pioneers will use an all-hands-on-deck approach in search of offensive production.
“We’re going to play a lot of kids,” Good said. “That’s just the way we’re going to have to do things until we can establish a guy who’s a go-to guy.”
Crockett girls looking to turn the corner
By Dave Ongie
The good news for the David Crockett girls basketball team is that four starters off of last year’s team are returning this season.
The better news is that a pair of incoming freshmen were good enough to take two of those starting spots. For Crockett coach Marty Story, that’s a sign his program is heading in the right direction.
“That’s sort of a good problem to have,” Story said. “(The freshmen) come from a winning program in middle school. I know middle school is different from high school, but winning is winning.”
The freshmen – Mackenzie Baldwin and Emma Gouge – will join forces with returning starters Karina Palomino, Kassie Lowe, Keyara Steinmetz and Baileigh Day to give the Lady Pioneers the best nucleus of players they’ve had in recent years.
Day and Lowe – both seniors – are the last two players on the roster who were with the team before Story got the head coaching job. Palomino, a sophomore guard, picked up quite a bit of experience last season and will battle for playing time this year.
Steinmetz, a 5-7 junior guard, is settling in nicely after transferring in from Oakdale prior to last season. Story praised her ability to distribute the ball and play tough defense.
As for the freshmen, Gouge is a 5-10 player who can contribute at multiple positions on the floor.
“She’s going to be a good player,” Story said.
Scott, a 5-5 guard, brings quickness and aggression to the floor along with a smile.
“We gave her the nickname ‘Smiley’ because she’s always smiling, no matter what,” Story said.
Emmaline Hulse, a junior, ran cross country with Scott and will also play a large role for Crockett.
“We’re trying to keep them positive,” Story said of his team. “We’re going to lose some, but we’re going to win some too. What I told them is that we have to win the ones we’re supposed to and get a couple that we’re not.”