Varsity boys basketball team experiencing changes due to seniors graduating

Brooke Ebner

A new chemistry has developed in the boys varsity basketball team due to bonds being formed with a new roster. The team is also experiencing changes to their season because of the large number of seniors who graduated last year.

Nine new players were added to the team which has changed the program’s  dynamic.

“We had seven seniors that [were in] the program last year,” Admission Officer and Boys Basketball Program Director Corey Henderson said. “Those seven seniors did leave a pretty huge hole in terms of experience, basketball savvy [and] kind of an understanding of what’s expected.”

On top of seven seniors leaving, some of this year’s seniors who haven’t played basketball in a few years decided to rejoin the team. Additional players who played on junior varsity last year also have moved up to varsity, and now the team consists of 14 players with only five varsity returners.

“We have six seniors this year,” Henderson said. “Out of the six seniors, three out of the four [new players] played JV last year, and one hasn’t played in like four or five years.”

Even with these changes, Henderson hopes that this new team will be competitive.

“I look at this as a challenge that I really haven’t had in four years,” Henderson said. “It’ll be a slow progression, however, we’ve got to quickly get these guys on board and get them understanding the terminology and understanding concepts and then see where it leads.”

The most veteran player on the team, and one of the varsity captains, senior Christian Rockamore, knows he must step up and that it is his turn to take on that leadership role.

“I’m the only senior who has been on the team for a good amount of time, so [I’m] just learning to step up and take a leadership role,” Rockamore said. “And [encourage] everyone’s willingness to compete and just be open to new things.” 

Although the path to success may take longer than normal, a lot of hope still fills the air. Returning players like Rockamore have noticed changes to practices due to these switches in dynamic.

“I feel like coach Henderson is more lenient, but obviously he still applies a lot of pressure on us and holds us accountable,” Rockamore said. “I feel like he’s a little more lenient with certain things because he knows there’s guys that are new to basketball. So we’re just all working together to teach them the new things, but we’re still putting in the work that we need to be successful.”

A struggle that Coach Henderson faces with his team each year is how the winter season has many interruptions such as Thanksgiving, exams and Christmas. With the new team this year, he thinks these breaks may be more of a challenge than in previous ones.

“I would say that the most things that we struggle with in basketball being in the winter is stopping and starting over four periods of time,” Henderson said. “However, when you have a new team, the continuity and the chemistry in the flow, you want to keep it going as long as possible because it builds momentum.”

Sophomore Kent Lanyon played on JV last year and is one of the four underclassmen on the team. He understands that while the captains are strict, they also take the time to make sure the new players understand the team’s expectations.

“[They yell] out when we run drills, [and] they yell out at new people and tell them what to do,” Lanyon said. “And after we do something, they’ll stop us and talk to us about what we did wrong or what we can do better.”

With having such a small team with nine new players, Lanyon also agrees that it will take some time for the team to get used to playing with each other. Although, Lanyon already feels like he’s connected to many of the other players.

“Once we get our rhythm down, and we [figure] out what we’re doing offensively, we’ll be good,” Lanyon said. “[What] I like about the team [is how] everyone is so close no matter the class [they’re in].”

Junior Logan Lear, another team captain, agrees with Lanyon that the team’s connection is important to their success. Despite there being so many new players, they all have already built a strong bond with one another.

“We’re all becoming like a family, and we do a lot better in practice and communicating in games,” Lear said. “It helps us [having] a strong connection as a team, and when you have a strong connection, like your family, you’re going to, in the long run, do a lot better, and hopefully that helps us win a championship.”

Henderson, who has been with the basketball program at ESD for 20 years, hasn’t encountered this challenge in four years. He thinks it’ll take a lot of teaching, but appreciates the competitiveness that the team carries.

“[In the next] two months, a lot of teaching [will be required], and we may take some losses, but I’m never afraid of competition,” Henderson said. “[The team] is really competitive, but when you’re new, as some of them are to basketball, [or] they’re out of basketball for a while, it’s always a shock factor that they have to get used to again.”

On the weekend of Dec. 2, the team participated in the Houston Christian – Mustang Classic Tournament in Houston.

“We just got back from Houston and the team’s getting better,” Henderson said. “We finished 2-2 and made it to the consolation championship, so the guys are starting to kind of pick it up a little bit and get it.”

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